Reading: Matthew 11: 16-19
Verse 19: The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were sent by God – one to proclaim the coming of the good news and the other to bring the good news. Both men showed signs of God’s presence within them and were feared by the religious authorities for their connection to God. As Jesus speaks today, He questions the current people’s ability to recognize what or who is before them. In the end He says, “wisdom is proved right by her actions”. Today we would maybe say “the proof is in the pudding”. The question for us as followers of Jesus is: do we walk the walk?
In Jesus’ time, the tradition of becoming a Rabbi was a long and arduous process. All young boys aspired to be a Rabbi. The Rabbi was well respected and looked up to. All young boys would study the Torah, memorizing each word of what we know as Genesis through Deuteronomy (180 pages in my Bible). Those who showed exceptional promise would go on the further study. Those who excelled here would ask to follow a Rabbi. From this group a Rabbi would select three to five to follow him. This small group would literally follow the Rabbi everywhere and would emulate all he did. It was quite an involved process to get to train so that one day you might become the new Rabbi. As others surpassed you, at whatever step, you would return home, most likely taking up the family business.
This was how one would become a religious authority. It was how it was done. John and Jesus simply responded to the call of God and went into ministry. The authority that both men carried did gain respect from some, but not from all. As our verses say, many called John ‘crazy’ or demon-possessed. Jesus was looked down upon for the company He kept. Verse 19 reads, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. In the end both men served the God they loved. Each man filled the exact role that God had planned for each. John pointed to Jesus as the one to follow. Jesus gave us the example to follow. As we live out this day, may we clearly follow Jesus, looking to be His witness and His hands and feet in our world.