Too Extreme

“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,

‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’

For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’

Matthew 11:16-19 New Living Translation

The people of Jesus’ day seemed fickle in what they expected of a Messiah. John the Baptist had come as the fulfillment of words spoken by the prophets of old that Elijah would someday return to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus came as the fulfillment of their messianic hopes. Still, the majority of the people in their day didn’t recognize them as such and Jesus was about to call them out about this.

This section of Matthew begins with John experiencing his own doubts about Jesus as the Messiah. He was in prison (a place he remained until he was beheaded). He sent messengers to Jesus to verify that Jesus was, in fact, the one they were supposed to be waiting for. Jesus was understanding of the doubts John was facing and sent reassurances to John by pointing out the ways He was fulfilling the call of establishing God’s Kingdom among the poor and tormented. After the messengers leave, Jesus addresses the crowd around Him, affirming John’s role as the long-promised return of Elijah.

The respectable people of Jesus’ day had trouble with both John the Baptist and Jesus. They were two opposite extremes of the spectrum and people rejected them for apparently opposite reasons. John was too radical and ascetic, so they accused him of being demon-possessed. Jesus hung out with and enjoyed life with the wrong kind of people, so they called Him a drunkard. Jesus compared these people to children playing a game in the market place and complaining that their friends would not respond properly to whatever mood they expressed with their music. The majority of the crowd had specific expectations of how the Prophet and Messiah would act and Jesus and John didn’t fulfill these in their minds.

We can be the same way in the expectations we place on the work of God in our culture today. In times of distress, we may look for a Messiah that stands up to the people we have determined are bad and miraculously brings them down. We may find it difficult to believe that God would send someone to enter their world and bring the presence of Christ with them. In times of prosperity when we are in a mood to celebrate, God’s call to humility, simplicity, and generosity may seem too severe for us. God calls us to live in such a way that we can recognize His work and His presence even when it comes in ways that we wouldn’t expect it.

Jesus, forgive us for the times when we have placed expectations on you that make it hard for us to recognize the work of Your Spirit. Place Your Spirit in us to open our eyes to the things You are doing that may not meet our expectations.

Published by llongard

I grew up in northeast Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend North Central University and graduated 1992 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. I spent most of the next fifteen years in the Twin Cities area until my family and I moved to Indiana in 2007. For most of the first seventeen years after college, I was involved in university ministry either as a volunteer, bi-vocational, or full-time campus minister. Through those years, I also worked in the main street marketplace as a retail manager/trainer and as a service representative in the insurance industry. I've also worked in various education roles. Most recently, I have been working on various projects addressing homelessness in Indianapolis and as team lead for Diakonos Community, a Communitas International missional initiative. Through this ministry, we seek to build missional communities in Indianapolis that serve and bring the life of Christ to those on the margins of society. Our strategy is to collaborate with community agencies that serve those in need and share Christ through meaningful relationships. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, three amazing daughters, and two cats (can't forget the cats, LOL). As a family, we enjoy camping, hiking, gardening, and going to the YMCA together. I also enjoy fishing, riding bicycle, and being involved in whatever my daughters are doing. Though I have not lived in the Green Bay area for over 20 years, I am still a major Packer fan.

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