Year A – Proper 9 – Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30: “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 11:17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 11:19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.” . . . 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Summary – The first pericope (section/story) of this text is a warning, not unlike OT prophetic texts. This warning culminates in the sobering declaration: “But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.” The body of this section addresses the two preparatory phases of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the ministry of John and then the ministry of Jesus before He was glorified. Jesus draws the contrast that “this generation” (led by the Pharisees and Saducees) were unable to join in the fasting of John (from the celebratory with foods and wine) and neither were they able to join into the feasting/“eating and drinking” of Jesus. Jesus feasted because, most basically, the kingdom is like a great feast. Wishing to starve without fasting, they accused Him of being a glutton and drunkard, since He “partied” so often.

Insight – Jesus draws out the two contrasts in ministry to make the point that the Jewish leaders were like discontent children. In the end all they wanted to do was have control. But he who loses his life will find it and he who “keeps/controls” his life will lose it. The latter portion of the text shows Jesus thanking the Father for His sovereign control even unto the damnation of those who heard. But more pastorally, He then emphasizes that His yoke is light and if only all would believe. This is the marvelous mystery of freedom in the span of a few verses. God is in control and men may freely choose to “come to me.” If you are weary, if you are heavy laden, please cast away the yoke of the Pharisees of your heart; loosen up those chains of Saduceism, let go of fears, take the leap of light into the Light and Taste and see the Lord is good. Jesus is a most worthy master of ceremonies. Why not, “loosen up those chains and dance.”

Question – What kinds of activities marked Jesus’s ministry (v19)? What gave cause for them to accuse Jesus of gluttony and drunkenness? Should feasting be an ordinary part of our lives? What day(s) has God set aside for this? How does this apply the theme of Pentecost and play a part in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Prayer – O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to your with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.