03 July 2011

"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." (vv. 18-19)


It was the contrariness of the people of Jesus' time that so frustrated him. They were behaving so childishly; finding fault in anything, refusing to do what they were told!

John the Baptist lived an aesthetic life in the desert, and the people complained that he must be mad to shut himself off from society and deny himself the pleasures of life. Jesus mixed with all levels of society, enjoyed the occasional party and dined with tax collectors, so they complained that no decent person could possibly act like that.

"Yet," says Jesus, "wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

John might have seemed a strange prophet and his lifestyle choice unconventional, but he disturbed the status quo like no one had for centuries. Jews flocked to the desert to hear his words and receive the baptism of repentance. Jesus did not fit the job description of a Messiah in the eyes of many, but wherever he went and whoever his presence touched, the effects were life changing.

The people's attitude might seem a familiar one to us, echoed as it is in the way that many view Christianity today. Their sin was that of indifference, of doing nothing. They ignored the words of John the Baptist and turned their backs on Jesus. Sometimes a defence of 'I never did anything!' can also be self-condemnation. The people who Jesus castigated for their childishness (verses 16-17) had the opportunity to accept what God was graciously offering, and they had refused the gift.

Our passage ends with encouragement for those who are prepared to have their eyes opened to the truth that lies before them. No one becomes a Christian purely through intellectual understanding, but rather through a developing relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. The simple call of salvation is Jesus saying in verse 28, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest".

To Ponder

How do your prejudices affect the effectiveness of your church? Are you ever guilty of saying, 'We don't do things that way here'?

We talk of God moving in mysterious ways, but might God also use the most unlikely people? Look out for the mysterious ways in which God is moving.

How easy is it for us to fall into the trap of sidestepping issues and 'doing nothing'? And how might we resist this?

Bible notes author: John Birch

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