Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 23), (Isaiah 63), (Matthew 11)

Our chapter in Matthew (11) makes it clear that the teaching of Jesus was a tremendous challenge as he continued his ministry.  “Jesus went on from there to teach and preach in their cities” [v.1]  It is not difficult to imagine the great discussions and debate that took place; the condemnation of the religious leaders adding to the confusion. Jesus challenges them; “concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” [v.7] and describes John as “more than a prophet.” [v.9]
We are intrigued by his questions (from v.16) “ … to what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children sitting in the market place and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”
This is parallel to the complaints we read some weeks ago in Isaiah (see 5 v.11,12) where people lived in this way, “but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD.”  Many do not ‘mourn’ today as they used to – instead they focus on ‘celebrating’ a life, but they have no hope beyond that ‘life.’
Jesus then challenges those who are belittling John the Baptist, some saying “He has a demon” [v.18] and the slander about himself, that he is “a glutton and a drunkard” [v.19] And so it has been ever since; what people refuse to accept because it does not fit in with their view on life, leads them to make all kinds of disparaging statements.  This same tactic is seen in statements made today about the Bible, such people, if they read it at all, only do so to look for things they think they are justified in scoffing at.
From v.25 to 27 we have a special prayer of Jesus to his Father. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding (see 1 Cor. 1 v.19-21) and revealed them to little children; yes, Father for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
When Jesus says, “no one knows the Father except …” he means – has a relationship with him, founded on having a meaningful prayer life that is further fed by daily reading and meditation on his word. Do you think you are the sort of person to whom Jesus chooses to reveal the Father?  If so, read the last 3 verses of this chapter.  These start, “Come unto me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you …”

 

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