November 20, 2010

Nameless But Notable XVIII: Out of The Mouths of Babes

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, "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, "Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matthew 11:15-19

How often have we seen kids (perhaps our own) say something in mixed company or public that absolutely mortifies us. Immediately after they say it, an intense sense of shame comes over us as parents as we realize that our children are only repeating something that they have already heard...from us, the parents. What is even worse is they my not just make a derogatory or questionable comment, they may actually act out or behave as the parent behaves. Behaviors that we thought were only behind closed doors. It teaches us a lesson on the spot. If we are embarrassed with their behavior and it is only a imitation of us...perhaps we should stop the behavior they are emulating?

Jesus gave us this tale of a children at play in the marketplace mimicking the elders. First they pretended to play flute and then play funeral or a dirge but no one would mourn within their group of playmates. Finally they give up in disgust and and basically we get the impression that they just sat their and said, "What the...?", "What's a matter with you bumps on a log?" In effect, what Christ is saying is that these analogous children are not acting like the adults and mimicking them but instead these adults were acting like the children!

Jesus had been reminding them of the coming of John the Baptist and how John had to prepare the way for Jesus and they did not believe but instead acted as these children He had just described who refused to respond. Now that Jesus had actually made His appearance and many signs and miracles could be observed they still ignored or denied the obvious. So Jesus levels the painful truth at them. They accused John of being a whack job and they accused him of being in league with the Devil. Jesus comes eating and drinking and He is automatically a glutton and a drunk. He was not saying they were being childlike but rather they were being childish. Fickle, peevish and quarrelsome. Never satisfied. The Pharisees and the other followers at least used to be filled with enthusiasm about John but now they are just they say he is/was too harsh and his message too severe...he must be possessed. They reject the Asceticism of John and the way of freedom offered by Jesus.

In the end Jesus tells them that these bitter and backbiting criticisms will get them nowhere. It is the wisdom of God that is vindicated by the actions it produces. It is in Christ's works that it is conclusively demonstrated that the Kingdom has arrived.

How often do we do this in the Christian faith? This spirit of petulance and disharmony remains in our faith today and it is the work of Satan within our own ranks. We attack others for things we ourselves do or are guilty of. It has always been peculiar to me to see Christians essentially "killing their own wounded". Instead of going out to lend a hand to those of the brethren that have fallen on the field of evangelism or spreading the Gospel we stick a gun to their head and pull the trigger. Whatever happened to Jesus' very clear statement in the Gospel of John:

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35

Brothers don't shoot brothers in the back or defame someone. This is a murder of a fellow Christian's character and that is a no-no. Not to mention it is just plain ignorant and I have seen even non-believers behave in a more dignified and honorable manner. Tisk-tisk!

Unlike the children in the Lord's story, Jesus wasn't playing games. What does He end up saying? It will have been more tolerant for Tyre, Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for those who were listening to John and then Jesus yet did not respond. The ones that were behaving like the children in Jesus' story. In actuality, they were doing worse, they were trying to figure out a way to do away with Jesus.

Why did they not listen and respond? Why do people today not listen and respond to the story of the Gospel?

I do not believe it was an irony that the story contains an episode where the children are performing a funeral dirge. Did it occur those listening then or now that those children performing that dirge may very well have been doing so for a funeral?

A funeral for those back in Jesus' time or those now that do not listen and respond?

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...