A father and son were walking along in a field one day when the son reached down and seethed in pain through his teeth as shrubbery had brushed across his knee. His father looked down quizzically as the boy looked up and said, “That bush hit my knee that I scraped yesterday when I was playing.” The fa-ther looked astonished! “How could that be?!”, the father said with his eyes wide open and his voice speaking as though he was shocked. The boy looked back with a guilty grin as the father continued, “That’s simply impossible! There is no possible way you scraped your knee yesterday. I know that, be-cause I specifically told you to put on long pants before you went out to play. I remember it… like it was yesterday, that you protested ‘Why?!?!?!’, and that I told you, ‘So that you won’t fall down and scrape your knee.’” The boy chuck-led sheepishly as his father continued to dramatically present the exchange of why to put on the pants. When the father had finished his exaggerated exhortation, the boy simply replied, “I’d still rather have a scraped knee than play in pants instead of shorts.”
The point of the parable is to show our attitude to not listening to the voice of our Father, sometimes. How many times have we known better, because we’ve heard the words straight from our Father as we read His holy instruction to us, and yet, we choose sin anyway. Why?
I wonder when we sin, how God must feel; knowing that He has provided us the instruction, for our good (Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:13; Jeremiah 23:29), knowing that we know it, and yet willfully disregard it. Though the Lord is certainly saddened when we’d make such a choice, I can’t help but have the ringing of Proverbs 1:24-27 echoing through my mind as an answer:
As wisdom speaks she says, “Because I called and you refused... And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.” (Proverbs 1:24-27)
In the parable, it’s easy to relate to the boy who heard what his father told him to do, for his own good, and yet willfully disregarded it. He did want he wanted to do. First, thinking he simply would not fall victim to what his father warned against - scraping his knee. What arrogance to think he knows better than his father! “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12)
But even still, afterwards, after he had fallen and scraped his knee, he still looked back and preferred to do it “his way”. There’s a famous Frank Sinatra song that gives the same sentiment. Unfortunately, the height and breadth and depth of hell will be boundless with the numbers who knew God’s way, and yet decided to do it their own way anyway. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) “...for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.” (Matthew 7:13)
Sometimes, this is why people don’t respond to the gospel. When they count the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:27-33), they’d rather put their faith in God not existing (and therefore they get to do whatever they want), rather than having faith in the Lord and His way. Unfortunately, the cost will be much greater eternally than a scraped knee.
But consider one more aspect of the parable. Many times, people think they can’t have “fun” if they are a Christian, but that’s also usually connected to the fact that they have a very fool-ish/immature concept of fun. The truth is, all good things have come from God (James 1:17), and He teaches us how to enjoy this life in heeding His instruction. Just like the Father in the parable. He didn’t tell his kid to not play/to not have fun; he merely provided protective instruction in how to do so. (Ecclesiastes 7:29) Again, it comes back to trust. In our lives, do we trust the Lord with all of our heart, or do we lean on our own understanding? (Proverbs 3:5) How we answer that question may well determine where we will end up… for all of eternity.
May the story of our lives end happier than the parable, by us being penitent of not heeding our Holy Father. By us trusting Him. By us obeying Him, and gaining the reward thereof.