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Week 2 July 2023, Devotion Part 2

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, and calling to their playmates, “We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” Matthew 11:16-17

So, should the church serve as ongoing battleground between soberness and merriment, or should it retreat to the safe middle ground where neither innovators nor dissenters dance to a specific tune? Are we offended at the suggestion that Jesus “partied?” Could we tolerate a leader with wild hair, weird clothes, and a weakness for tofu? Paul rightly reminds us that “the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The whole chapter stresses “mutual upbuilding.”

In the private sphere we please ourselves as free men and women in Christ. In the public domain we please Him above all. God actually demands a holy people, not a strictly happy one. Jesus is still the “stone of offense” who trips up the church intent on pleasing crowds. (Part 2 of 2)

Comment: To recap the events recorded by Matthew, although playful kids and peevish people come to mind, the story is starting to tug painfully at our hearts because it really centers on John the Baptist. He and Jesus were cousins and may have played together as carefree boys. Soon enough both would be in hot water – and then some – because of their public ministries. Jesus is still being baited by condescending bastards posing as Israel’s religious elite, while a dancing damsel named Salome has just landed John in prison. I’ve never before called anyone a bastard, but Henry VIII’s illegitimate children were stuck with the name. He had a knack for marital infidelity and making heads roll. Anyway, John is locked up and the gravity of his situation has sunk in. The devil has a knack for kicking a believer when he is down. At its worst, he makes him question his core belief in God. The fact that John had trustworthy disciples confirms his integrity and I’m thankful that Jesus sent uplifting words back to him. His concluding ones were, “And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” Ironically, His disciples were often taken aback when He offended the religious leaders. When they boasted that Abraham was their father, He said matter-of-factly, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44).

The only begotten Son of the Father has made you and me legitimate children of God and fellow heirs with Christ. When our fragile humanity makes us doubt such truth, and depression darkens our perceptions, we can rest assured that our Lord is not offended. On the contrary, He makes sure that we experience the tender ministry of presence by the Holy Spirit. He promised that we would know Him as Helper, Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate with the Father. He smiles on His kids in fun and carefree times, and befriends us so deeply in Christ always, that we remain firmly anchored in the precincts of His protection, provision, and praise – no matter what! Matthew 11


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