Jesus recognised that many people are contrary and will see what they want to see.
It hardly mattered what Jesus and John the Baptist were saying - the former was dismissed as a glutton and a drunkard because he loved life and parties and the latter was dismissed as demon possessed because he was an ascetic.
Jesus described them like children squabbling in a playground because they can’t agree whether to play “funerals” with John and mourn over their sins or “weddings” with Jesus and celebrate the dawning kingdom of God.
But Jesus said “Yet Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”. Spiritually both mourning and a wedding are needed. Mourning our separation from God and acknowledging our need of him gives us humility and knowing that gap between ourselves and God has been bridged by Jesus (because God was in him reaching out to touch us) gives us joy. Both are necessary and complement each other. Both John the baptist and Jesus have been vindicated by their deeds not just their words.
After criticising childish behaviour in one respect Jesus then commends other positive virtues attributed to children like sincerity and honesty and innocence, contrasting those with the too clever by half so called “wise and intelligent” who imagine they can undermine anything and everything with their cleverly constructed arguments and cynicism.
Last week I was involved in a very deep and honest discussion about death, grief and love with people who like me had all lost someone very close to them. It wasn’t a debate using lots of clever clever arguments – it was a disclosure of true experience of love and loss. It became clear to me that Loving Relationship is at the heart of life. It is fundamental and necessary. It is what makes us fully functioning persons and it is then that it dawned on me why Christianity is true and will never die.
It is because Christianity is fundamentally at its heart a relationship; a relationship with God who is revealed in the person Jesus Christ. Loving relationship lies at the centre of creation, between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When all is said and done, when all pretence and image and vanity are shed, when all our defences are lowered that is all that is left – the love – a lovethat binds us.
Loving relationship stands at the centre of our lives and so two things are needed to experience fullness of life; Close personal relationship with God and each other. The Father is revealed in the Son so we can enter in to that most primal of relationships – that spiritual relationship between ourselves and our creator that you can call salvation or eternal life. But human beings, because we are enfleshed and not just disembodied spirits need more. We also crave and need deep personal relationships with each other if we are to flourish.
For Matthew the gospel of the healing relationship with God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus cannot be separated from patient learning, and obedience to the “wisdom” of God revealed through Jesus Christ.
Jesus invites us to turn our lives towards God by following him on the way. It is a personal invitation with everlasting validity. This invitation is current and addressed to every single one of us.;
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”