In this play about a parable that might have been very bad news to Jesus’ current disciples but which is good news for his present-day ones, I decided to emphasize the unconventional nature of the ending by telling it first with a more conventional ending, and by using it to make what seems to be a reasonable and important point. Then, of course, the real parable comes in and demonstrates once again the radical nature of the kingdom.
This might be a useful exercise to go through with every parable. For example, how about a version of the Prodigal Son in which the prodigal is accepted back just like in the original, but with sternness and suspicion, and lives a life of reduced prestige and privilege under the watchful eye of his family from that point forward? Or a version of the Wheat and the Tares in which it’s not two kinds of seed from the start, but all wheat seeds, only different seeds receive differing levels of care so that some of them prosper while others wilt? Or a version of the master with the unforgiving servant in which the master doesn’t revoke his forgiveness of the servant because the servant turned around and refused to forgive his peers, but instead initiates a separate punitive action – or perhaps even forgives the servant for this additional transgression as well?