We ended yesterday’s Catch with a quote from this passage; today we start with it because it shows us the Jesus no one was expecting.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 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, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:16-19
Ever been around people you just can’t please? No matter what you do, they’ll find something wrong with it. Well that was the Pharisees, as it is with anyone who lives by the law. The law makes you sour. It makes everyone else your business. It always makes you the judge, because if you are going to live by the law, you must show that you are following it, and that is most easily done by pointing out those who are not. Enter the judge.
Sad to say, but being judgmental is one of the most common identifying marks of a Christian in today’s culture. Look at how Christians are portrayed in film and TV. If you want to cast a person who will obviously be a Christian, cast them as judgmental and someone definitely not having fun.
Jesus, on the other hand, was criticized by the Pharisees for being the opposite — as being a drunkard and a glutton because He ran around with tax collectors and sinners, and He seemed perfectly happy with the accusation. On other occasions He would point out that a celebration was appropriate while He was here, because, after all, He was the bridegroom, and that meant His disciples were attending the reception.
Jesus, in this passage, paints Pharisees as those who cannot enter into the fundamental joys and sorrows of being human, and this Pharisaical behavior has been for some time a detriment to Christianity. Christians are emotionally monosyllabic. Who wants to be like that?
In contrast, Jesus gave divine sanction to the unabridged human experience. He not only experienced the joys and sorrows of human existence, He experienced temptation in every way that we have and will be tempted, yet without sin. And lest you think that made Him somehow less human, you might be forgetting that on the cross He became sin for us. So even that is out on the table.
Jesus danced with the flute; He mourned with the dirge; He died with the sinners; but He rose with no one else, but all of us behind Him, fully human, fully alive, fully forever.