Wednesday 12 June 2013

Bible Book:

Matthew 11:16-19 Wednesday 12 June 2013


John the Baptist features very strongly in this passage. In theprevious verses (Matthew 11:1-15) John has sent messengers fromprison asking if Jesus is the one who is to come. Jesus answers bytalking about his actions and then goes on to say that John is"Elijah who is to come" (v. 14). He then says "Let anyone with earslisten!" (v. 15). The verses (Matthew 11:20-24) after this parable then speakabout the cities in which Jesus has ministered and how they did notrepent despite the miracles that were performed there. So thecontext of this passage is all about seeing what God is doing, andhearing what God is saying in and through the ministries of Johnthe Baptist and Jesus.

The passage itself describes a flute being played and therefusal of people to dance and then describes wailing and therefusal of people to mourn. The flute symbolises a wedding, whilstthe wailing symbolises a funeral. Jesus then gets more specific bycontrasting the ministries of John the Baptist and himself bydescribing the austerity of John and his own willingness to eat,drink and presumably be happy (verses 18-19). However, the reactionof the people on each occasion is to criticise and judge. The pointbeing made is that the people, who Jesus is addressing, arerefusing to respond to the work of God in whatever form it comes,and in whatever way it is dressed up. You can sense the frustrationin Jesus voice.

At the end of this parable there is the intriguing phrase "Yetwisdom is vindicated by her deeds". Proverbs 1:20 reads "Wisdom cries out in thestreet"; which of course immediately reminds us of John theBaptist. The reference to the deeds of wisdom reminds us of Jesus'reply to John the Baptist about his actions when asked if he is theone who is to come (Matthew 11:4).

To Ponder

  • Does this passage mean we should always see the positive inpeople and not judge? What do you think?
  • The refusal to be satisfied with John the Baptist or Jesusreminds us of the frequently negative media response to publicindividuals. Whose fault is this?

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