In the 1977 hit movie Star Wars, the hero Luke Skywalker leaves home to enter a fantastic struggle against Darth Vader and the evil Empire, ultimately destroying the Death Star. (I hope I didn’t just spoil the movie for you) But before accomplishing all that epic stuff, Luke was a simple farm boy back on wasteland planet of Tatooine.
Told by his uncle to attend to his chores, Luke peevishly declares that he wants “to go into Toshi Station to get some power converters.” Apparently, that would pass for an exciting day on Tatooine. Yet for all the adolescent attitude, Luke actually stays home and attends to his chores.
This seems to be a defining character trait. Later, Luke meets the wise old Jedi knight, Obi-One Kenobi. Informed by the old man that he is destined for greatness in the stars, Luke balks and declares that he has too much to do. But eventually he changes his mind and leaves with Alec Guinness and the rest, as they say, is cinematic history. Hooray for Luke!
Let’s contrast Luke with another pop icon, Eddie Haskell. You remember him from Leave it to Beaver? ( I just lost my target audience) This was a late 50s – early 60s TV show that I watched in reruns (I’m not quite that old. Yet.) about a perfect family named the Cleavers living in a perfect neighborhood. Beaver, the youngest son, had an older brother named Wally. Wally’s best friend was the next door neighbor, the aforementioned Eddie Haskell.
Eddie was a piece of work. He looked squicky clean, but there was always something amiss. He was overly deferential in his dealings with authority figures such as Mrs. Cleaver. He would complement her on how wonderful she looked in a manner that everyone recognized as insincere, especially Mrs. Cleaver. As soon as her back was turned, Eddie would hatch some scheme that would not conclude until he had gotten the Cleaver boys in trouble.
If you were to corner Eddie and ask him if he were up to no good, he would act shocked that you could possibly think such a thing. But as soon as your back was turned, his true colors were out. Boo Eddie!
Luke Skywalker or Eddie Haskell. Whom would you trust with the defense of the galaxy or the care your sons? Remarkably, Jesus asked the chief priests and elders in Jerusalem that exact question – Who would you prefer, Luke or Eddie?
In Matthew 21:28-31 Jesus tells the Parable of the Two Sons. In this simple story, a father has two sons. Dad tells Son #1 to go out and work in the vineyard, but he refuses. Later, he changes his mind and goes to work. Sounds like Luke Skywalker.
The father tells Son #2 the same thing, “Go work the vines!”
And Son #2 replies:”Yes, of course, Father. There is nothing that would give me greater pleasure than to serve you, my father, whom I owe all respect and homage.”
Those aren’t his exact words, but you get the idea. This guy is Eddie Haskell. He says, “Of course,” but then goes out and does exactly what he wants.
(On a related note, I’m thinking of applying for a patent. I envision a plastic bracelet that reads WWED, or What Would Eddie Do. The marketing possibilities are endless. I would start with TV Land.)
Jesus asks, “Which one did what his father wanted?” When faced with this question, the chief priests said what we would say, “Luke Skywalker. We don’t trust that Eddie guy.”
In truth, neither son did exactly what his father wanted. Both were asking for punishment. Yet mercy is offered from a wise Father. After calming down, the first son was willing to swallow his pride and do what was required.
This is the message we hear from God each and every day. We may be “religious,” but in a way, so was Eddie. He looked good, he just didn’t live good. Jesus pointed out that no one would consider tax collectors and prostitutes “religious.” They didn’t look good. But upon reflection, they turned toward God and repented. Just like Son #1. Just like Luke Skywalker.
So who are you – a Luke or an Eddie? Just like the two sons in Jesus’ story, we have all messed up already. Who among us will repent this day and follow the Lord?