John vs. the Pharisees

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)

“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Luke 7:18-35

There is a lot going on in this story. It’s hard to even know where to begin… I think I hit most of the basics in Matthew, but I think the major theme here is the contrast between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. John lived in the wilderness and worse rough clothing, the Pharisees live in palaces and where silks. John looked at Jesus’s works and thought He was the Messiah, the Pharisees looked at Jesus’s works and thought He had a demon. John was the greatest prophet of all time, the Pharisees rejected God’s purpose for them.

And so Jesus offers the people a choice. They can continue  on the path they started with baptism and follow Jesus. If they do then even the lowest of them will be greater than John in Heaven. Or they can follow the path of the Pharisees and be content with life the way it’s always been. They can doubt every sign, find something wrong with every person, and refuse to be moved by the Spirit. If they do… Well,  Jesus doesn’t really say. But that sounds like a pretty miserable way to live, doesn’t it?

I think we’ve all known someone like this, someone who is impossible to please. When you’re joyful they point out how terrible the world is and chastise you for not caring, but when you are sad they complain that you are a downer. Often, in my experience, these people will complain that as a Christian you are judgmental, but then will proceed to judge you based on your faith. But in the end, Jesus says, that doesn’t really matter. We know that we are doing the right thing, He says, when we see the fruits of our labor in the growing church. Basically, haters gonna hate. Get over it and get on with being a disciple.

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