A Moment with the Bible

Matthew 11:16-19

After explaining to the multitudes the mission and purpose of the coming of John the Baptist, Jesus goes on to challenge the unbelief of the Jewish leaders and their followers. They were like two groups of children, one calling to the other to join them in a game. When asked if they would like to play a game simulating a “party,” the obstinate group refuses. But when asked to do the opposite and “play funeral,” they also refuse. In other words, nothing that is offered pleases them. In the same way, John and Jesus took opposite approaches in trying to turn people to repentance. John was an ascetic, living an austere life in the deserts, and they accused him of having a demon. Jesus joined in the social activities of the day, and they called Him a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Each of their approaches was with “wisdom” and fulfilled the purpose intended. The wisdom in their approaches was justified by the results they received from those who had an honest heart. But the Jews in general were obstinate, rejecting any approach that did not fit their own preconceived notions.

This text offers a strong warning for all of us. We have a tendency to want “our church” or “our religion” to fit perfectly into our own desires. But worshiping God is not about what we want and it is not about pleasing us, it is about pleasing the One who saved us. The very reason the Jews were rejected is because they could not give up their own religious institutions. If we desire to sincerely come to God, it must be from the pure desire to read His word and obey Him regardless of whether it fits into our whims or not.

Notice also that Jesus was accused of being a “friend of sinners.” This may be the only accusation made of Jesus that was true. He was a friend of sinners. He came to seek and save those who were lost. If we are truly His disciples, we will follow His example in this regard. In order to save a lost world, we must break away from our habit of only being a friend to those who are like us. If we are going to reach the lost, we also must be a friend of sinners.