Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jesus' Enemies Accuse Him

"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’ ” (Matthew 11:18–19).

In this passage, Jesus accuses His enemies of perversion and that there is no way to please them. John the Baptist was very strict and ascetic in his lifestyle, and that offended them, so they said John was demon possessed. Jesus, on the other hand, was relaxed and joyous in His lifestyle, and they charged Him with being a glutton and a drunkard.

Was Jesus a glutton? No. Was He a drunkard? Of course not. Then why did people accuse Him of this? Because Jesus scandalized those people who had reduced the things of God to superficial matters. Sadly we see this very thing all too often today. For too many Christians, religion is a matter of a list of dos and don’ts that are not found in the Bible.

Why did they call Jesus a glutton? Because He went to the feasts and ate. Why did they call Him a drunkard? Because He went to weddings, and even provided wine for one marriage feast (John 2:1–11). Imagine today if a minister went to a wedding and drank champagne. He would probably get into trouble. But what if he brought several cases of champagne to the wedding feast? He’d probably be crucified!

They were offended with Jesus because He went to taverns. He ate dinner with tax collectors, crooks, and prostitutes. If ever guilt by association could have destroyed a man. it would have been Jesus of Nazareth. We need to face this if we are going to have a biblical understanding of Jesus.

This does not mean Jesus wants us to go out and embrace worldliness and participate in sin. Not at all. Jesus was sinless, but He went to sinners and dealt with them where they were. He came to seek and to save the lost.

Jesus ran the risk of being seriously misunderstood in order to minister to people. Sometimes being faithful to Christ means risking our reputation, but Jesus tells us, “Blessed are you when people … falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11). Let us make sure, however, that if they are speaking evil of us, they are indeed doing so falsely. Be prepared for opposition, even from within the church.