In Harmony with Jesus

Matthew 11:16-19
Isa 48:17-19 / Psa 1

We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we sang a dirge, but you did not mourn.
(Matthew 11:17)

Help me, Lord be firm in my resolve
Not be lukewarm, neither hot nor cold;
Only for Your kingdom be involved,
Only for Your Word may I be bold.

(Jesus said to the crowds,) “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we sang a dirge, but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they said, ‘Look, He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11: 16-19)

Reflection

The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were never “in tune” with what Jesus was teaching or doing. That was because they were always quick to find fault with Him, discarding with disdain what did not conform to their antiquated ways of thinking. In their obsession with external forms of worship and tradition, they could not see beyond the superficial. They did not believe the teachings of John the Baptist because of his ascetic way of life, even though many believed he was God’s prophet. Neither did they accept the teachings of Jesus, even though they were awed by His words and wondrous deeds, just because He shared His table with tax collectors and sinners. In reality, their ears and hearts were stuffed with the wax of pride and envy, and fault finding provided a convenient excuse for their unbelief.

Jesus used the image of children in the marketplace to describe the Jews of His time for their lack of discipline and cooperation, as it were, squabbling with one another. They refused to play with each other’s games, and were skeptical about everything outside their traditional ways. The criticized John the Baptist for being too austere in his fasting, saying he was driven by a demon; and yet they branded Jesus as a glutton and drunkard because He did not fast (like the Pharisees and John’s disciples). It was a case of “damn if you do, and damn if you don’t.”

“Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Like a prophecy, all the things that Jesus said and did were proved righteous and wise in the events of history, because nothing contradicted the will of God. Most of the time, skeptics do not appreciate the wisdom of an action, or God’s hand behind an event even if the positive consequences are already staring them in the face. Their stubborn hearts refuse to believe, even if time and again in biblical history, God has shown them that faith is more powerful than knowledge.

Jesus exhorts us to be proactive and creative, and not to be mere fence-sitters who spend their time criticizing others. We have to be positive, and look beyond our normal routine, be more dynamic in our outlook in life. People who are creative and willing to face challenges everyday – like dancing to lively music and shedding tears to funeral dirges– live longer and fuller lives than those who prefer to remain in the background of events. In our breakfast fellowships, we are uplifted by the melodious praise songs of our music ministry; and the same group moves us to tears when we render prayer service for a member or his loved one who has moved on. In both cases we sing in harmony, whether in joy or in tears.

Lord, You are a God of harmony and a God of peace. Take away all kinds of discordance in our family and community, so that only Your grace of love and understanding be the bond of unity in our relationships. Help us to grow in Your wisdom, so that we may be more patient and forgiving of each other’s faults, according to Your will. Amen.

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