The king’s son was angry. He was speaking to people who were supposed to be doing what the king wanted but they weren’t. They were doing what they thought was right because they were frightened at he consequences of making mistakes.
The reason why they were not doing what the king wanted
Many years before in the history of their community some people had not done what was right. Although the king was merciful and reminded them of a better way of doing things they did not listen.
Eventually that community suffered a huge disaster. It was attacked by enemies of the king who killed some of the community and most of the rest were taken prisoner. These prisoners were taken away into exile to a country far far away. They had made the king so angry that although he could have protected them he didn’t
It was not the first time this had happened to a community. Other communities had just disappeared without trace. They never went back to where they called home and stopped being a distinct community.
This time though it was different. Even as he was allowing them to be carried away the king sent a messenger to them called Jeremiah. Jeremiah told them that they had a hope and a future because the king had plans for them.
This new future did become reality. A few decades later many of the descendants of these people came back to their land. They were encouraged by Nehemiah to rebuild their homes and Ezekiel to rebuild their worship centre. They were back in the land and were able to make a fresh start.
What they were doing instead
Look at it that way and you can understand why some people now looked at the king’s instructions and became extremely zealous in their attempts to make sure that they were followed. Their fear of not doing what the king wanted led to them doing extra things so it became harder to do things that they knew the king did not want them to do.
You know the sort of thing. You have to make sure that something gets done by 7 pm so you aim to do it by 6 pm. That way even if you have a few problems and you don’t get it done by your deadline you can still meet the real deadline.
The problem according to Matthew was that the king’s son was annoyed with them as they had all these extra rules. Keeping all these extra rules was really hard work so the community split into two groups, the goody2shoes group and the ordinary group.
Some of the ordinary group were quite hurt by this goody2shoes group. After all they kept being told that they were not good enough and had to do better so that the same bad things didn’t happen to the community.
This did not please the king at all. He loved these ordinary people. He did not like the way they were told that they were not good enough. He loved them and he wanted them to do things for him, special things.
What did the king’s son do
The king’s son did not just have arguments with the goody2shoes people and tell them how wrong they were he actually did something to change the situation. That something was to gather some of the ordinary people together who wanted to hear what he said and teach them to do special things for the king. They learnt how to do things in the name of the king that changed the lives of people for the better.
It was a long time a go when the king’s son came to do this. The king’s son did something even more special as he made it possible for everyone to be seen as the king’s child. (That’s another story for another time). Suffice to say that a child has a special relationship with their father. They are cared for, given all that they need and enabled to do special things for their father.
What could this mean to us today?
That is where I started thinking about all of this. You see Matthew says that one one of the mistakes the goody2shoes people made was that they did not do what the king wanted them to do because they were frightened of doing the wrong thing. They had developed so many traditions and ways of doing things that it stopped them doing what the king wanted.
Ouch. The rules passed down through the generations of goody2shoes people had stopped them doing what the king wanted them to do. How many times do we hear things like the king wants me to do this but my family or my teacher or other people in the community say that it is wrong therefore I won’t do it. In other words the rules, the traditions and the expectations of others stop us doing what the king wants us to do.
That is radical. That is seriously uncomfortable for everyone. Personally my most recent challenge has been standing up to those who uphold tradition to say that this is the new way that I believe that the king wants to see this done.
This means getting on and doing what the king wants done no matter what others say, even those who are the king’s children. Of course that does not mean being obnoxious or unnecessary difficult. That to be honest just upsets the king as he sees the pain of the arguing and fighting.
It does mean being in a close relationship with the king in order to hear his commands clearly and to get his back up and support. You see it is only when we move forwards in the name of the king doing the things that he wants us to do in the way that he wants us to do that that we will succeed.
What was the fate of the goody2shoes people?
They had lost the plot. They were written out of the king’s story. You see their plan did not keep them safe. They still managed to upset the king. In fact in some ways their attitude made them into enemies of the king. leading them to do what they could to silence the king’s son. However, that plan did not work for them. In fact you could even say that it backfired on them. This is because it only made it possible for the king’s son to do all that the king had asked him to do.
The king stopped seeing them as the main ones who told his story and spread his message. He gave that responsibility to the ordinary people trained by his son.
The community sort of split into two camps. Those who followed the king’s son those who did not. The king did not forget those who didn’t follow his son.
The goody2shoes people lost the plot in a different way as well. They were kicked off that plot of land that their forefathers had been promised that they would live for ever.
Today their descendants have gone back to the promised land but life is not easy for them. Amazingly their main supporters are the descendants of the ordinary people trained by the king’s son.
More about what this means for us
The king does not forget his chosen people, even if they do wander from him. That is why despite listening to what others have said rather than doing what the king has commanded I have survived. If I had done what he commanded though, I could have thrived and things would have been very different today.
The thing is that we cannot change the consequences of past actions. We can change what we do today so that we don’t have to face such dire consequences tomorrow.