“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” (verses 16-19)
If you’re not going to believe, you won’t believe. If you don’t open your eyes, you’ll remain blind. If you won’t listen, you can’t receive truth. If you don’t let music touch your heart, your feet won’t start dancing.
Many in the crowds that attended both John and Jesus completely missed their heart-stopping message. God was calling, but they couldn’t hear it. They should have responded, but having by-passed the message, they didn’t enter in. They simply missed the melody.
Both John and Jesus had the same core message – a message that can only be characterized as “Good News,” in every sense of the phrase. Yes, their styles were different, but their central focus was identical. John began his preaching ministry with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus began his own ministry with exactly the same words (Matthew 4:17).
This announcement may not cause hearts today to skip a beat, somersaulting with electrified amazement, setting us to dancing, but it certainly should have back then. This is the very message the people had been waiting for. The kingdom of God had been their expectant yearning, all down the years. Shouldn’t this announcement, coming from these two separate sources, have rivetted their attention, propelling them forward to engage in whatever way they could?
But it didn’t. They didn’t have eyes to see and ears to hear. They didn’t dance.
Instead, they critiqued the messengers. John is so uncouth, they thought, living in the desert, eating locusts, and shunning civilized existence – he must be demon-possessed! And Jesus? Look at him eating and drinking with the best of them. Look at the people he chooses to associate with. He’s a glutton, a drunkard, a friend of sinners!
They seized hold of inconsequential differences in style, painted them black, and then completely missed the central message. The kingdom is here! Enter in! Such good news. But they missed it.
People, of course, react similarly today. The good news of Jesus so often elicits the same response – namely, no response at all. It’s tragic.
And what about those of us who have already entered into the music of the kingdom? We’ve responded to the good news. Is there a lesson here for us?
Yes, indeed. For the Lord of the kingdom has more work to do in our lives, and so he continues to speak. Through the scriptures. By his Spirit. Through his people. Sometimes whispering, sometimes loudly calling, sometimes with joyful dance, sometimes with somber melody. He calls us to enter in.
Do we? Are we ready to hear? Are we ready to respond? Or do we react to the style of the messenger (however that message may come) and simply miss the Lord’s new song?
Lord, give me ears to hear your ongoing message in my life. I want to be quick to hear and faithful to respond. Strengthen my ears for listening and my feet for dancing. To Jesus’ glory.
Reflect: If the Lord wants to speak to you today, are you ready? How can you be more attentive? What if he speaks through someone who is not “your style”? Is he speaking already?