The appointed gospel text for this coming weekend will be our devotional focus.
May your time on this holiday weekend be blessed. May be you be surrounded by family and friends. May your celebrations of freedom include gratitude for the freedom that has been won for us by Christ.
16 "But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17 "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon'; 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."
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; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 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. 28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The keen observer will notice that our assigned text steps around vv. 20-24. Those are verses where Jesus proclaims judgment on some towns that did not repent. Interesting to ponder why that is excised from the reading. Is it because we aren’t so familiar with the Biblical cities and their circumstances? Perhaps. Is it because a judging Jesus makes us squirm? That’s certainly a possibility. Is it because we, like Thomas Jefferson, like to take scissors to the scriptures and keep what we like and discard that which seems off to us? Most assuredly. (The Jesus Seminar book The Five Gospels is in part dedicated to “Thomas Jefferson who took scissors and paste to the gospels”). It might do us well to spend some time lingering with Matthew 11:20-24.
There are two threads to this assigned text. The first portion talks about how this generation (which I would certainly count us among) never seems to be satisfied with the way that God comes into the world. We are like kids who are never satisfied with the other kids who won’t play as we want. If we want to dance, they want to mourn. If we cry, they play celebratory music. We are out of synch with one another. We are out of synch with God’s ways in the world. When John came prophetically and ascetically people dismissed him as demon-possessed. People wrote him off, locked him up and eventually dispatched him as a party favor. When Jesus came into the world incarnationally and relationally people dismissed him as a drunkard and a glutton. He was judged by the company he kept, the religious authorities and the civil authorities. People wrote up charges and accusatory signs, hung him up and eventually dispatched him as a nuisance. Yet both John and Jesus were faithfully living out their callings. Jesus would not stay dead. Neither will John. Neither will we. People will say what they will, do as they do and attempt to write off the truth of the gospel. Yet wisdom will be vindicated by her resurrection deeds.
In the second thread, Jesus prays for his childlike followers. They, and we, have been welcomed into the community between the Father and the Son. We have been adopted into the family. We are comforted from the burdens that weigh us down. There is gentleness and humility in our brother Jesus. In that divine family there is rest to be had for our souls. Jesus takes our heavy burdens and shares the yoke with us. There is kingdom work to be done and Jesus shoulders the burdens with us. Thanks be to God.
God, we thank you that you come into the world on your own terms. Draw us up into the good news proclaimed by John and by Jesus. Help us give our burdens to you and to serve you faithfully. We thank you for the many freedoms we have in this day and in this age and in this country. Help us lay them at the foot of the cross in profound and lingering adoration. Amen.