Jesus used many parables to explain things to his hearers since appropriate stories make it easier to understand abstract things. Obviously no story can track reality exactly so it is also with the one that I am now going to tell you now.
There was a powerful highly talented King who lived in a glorious place with His only Son. The King loved music and was able to write the most magnificent scores for a very large symphony orchestra where each player had his own unique instrument and each had its own score. The King was also an expert conductor who would be able to conduct an extremely large orchestra. However, He had one problem. He had no musicians. He knew that if He could have the musicians and they could actually make music it bring much glory to Him and to His musicians and everyone would have a joyful time together.
He then made an agreement with His Son that His Son would create the musicians and provide them with instruments for this orchestra. The King would write the score.
So, as per their agreement, the Son created this magnificent orchestra and He made two levels of creatures, the musicians and the helpers who would assist the musicians and help them in all their needs. He made one as the lead helper and adorned him more than any of the other.
Each musician was given the perfect instrument for him or her. The instruments fitted their personality and abilities perfectly. Not only that, each musician received a score that was unique to him or her. No two musicians had the same score.
The King knew that for the musicians to really enjoy their participation in the orchestra they would have to willingly be part of it. Anyone who was there against his or her will or even reluctantly it would detract from the overall beauty of it all. The same would apply to the helpers.
However, for the orchestra to produce perfect music everyone in it would have to obey the conductor’s instructions perfectly. The musicians would have to submit their own wills to that of the conductor. No deviation could be permitted since that would break the perfect harmony of the music.
The King started to assemble His orchestra. However, the leader of the helpers began to realise that he was also an expert musician and felt that if he could entice the musicians to rather join his orchestra he could bring glory to himself which might even rival that of the King.
So, the Lead Helper thought out a cunning scheme. He would entice the musicians to join his orchestra and leave the King’s one. He promised them different instruments and a relaxation from the strict observance of the King’s musical score. They would be given new, but different instruments because he would be producing different sounding orchestra and they would have the freedom to play as they liked. This sounded like much more fun than playing within the rules in the King’s orchestra. So they all, en mass, trashed their beautiful instruments the King gave them and went and joined the Lead Helper. The King then banished them from His kingdom.
Things did not turn out the way the musicians had hoped. The freedom they experienced led to all sorts of problems. The music was terrible and there was fighting and arguing to the extent that some even killed others.
The King saw all this and wanted the musicians to return to Him, but He had to lay down some conditions. The very first condition was that the musicians had to repent of their rebellion to the King and had to ask His Son for a new instrument. This would be given freely to anyone who asked, but those who did not ask would not get. The second condition was that they leave their unruly behaviour behind them and willingly submit to the Conductor’s instructions and guidance and the musical score. Anyone who made a habit of not submitting would be permanently expelled from the orchestra.
Unfortunately only the minority of the musicians decided to make use of the King’s offer. Some went to His Son and got new instruments, but then could not submit to the Conductor’s instructions since they still had rebellion in their hearts. They had developed such bad habits in the other orchestra that they just could not fit and were again expelled from the King’s one.
Those who were willing and able to submit to the King’s guidance and direction joined the King’s orchestra and played the most beautiful music and had great happiness and joy in being a part of such a great ensemble.
As said, no story can fully track reality, but in this story the King is God. His Son is Jesus. The musicians are mankind. The helpers are the angels. The Chief Helper is Satan.
The point of the story is that we, from our post-modern western mindset, cannot think that submission to anyone or anything is good; the symphony orchestra is the perfect example of people who willingly submit their own wills and skills to that of the conductor. It does not make them mindless puppets, but willing participants of something bigger and more beautiful than what they by themselves could attain. In fact the more perfectly they submit to the conductor, but better the music will be.
This is the purpose of God with His creation. His requirement of perfect submission and obedience will give one beautiful “orchestra” playing in perfect harmony under His direction to the enjoyment and happiness of all. This will bring Him glory and the “musicians” will be adding to His glory and they themselves at the same time will share in that glory.
The musicians destroying their instruments symbolises their destruction of their relationship with God. Jesus giving them new instruments symbolise Jesus reconciling them with His father by paying the penalty for their sin on the cross. However, this is not the end of the story. They now have new instruments, but they will have to go back to the orchestra and submit to the conductor and learn to play His music. This is symbolic of the redeemed who submit to God and who do His will. The new instruments mean nothing if they don’t use them for the purpose for which they were given and the music will be awful if they don’t submit to the score, which is God’s will for them.
If the musicians after receiving their new instruments refuse to go back to the orchestra and submit to the conductor their new instruments will be of no value to them – they could just as well not have received them. In the same way we, if we receive forgiveness for our sins we will not benefit from this act of grace unless we don’t also submit to the will of God – we will still be in rebellion.