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Matthew 11:11-1911 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
16 "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 17 " 'We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19 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.' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
The world conditions were ready for something different to catch their attention and turn their hearts toward God. There was much religiosity and secularism thriving at that time, but "authenticity" was woefully lacking. John's attractiveness was that he was authentic-the real deal. He took on a pose in announcing the Kingdom that was almost the opposite of the religious setting of the day and people were hungry for it. He didn't wear the flowing robes of the priestly or religious class, didn't operate in or around the beautiful Temple, didn't have a religious air to him, and was not playing games any longer. This authentic message of turning back to God (repentance) and looking for the Messiah was most refreshing, even if they had to travel out into the country to hear it. It was a Kingdom message.
NOTE that John came with a serious tone like singing a dirge at a funeral to catch the attention of those who were playing games with their faith. Jesus, on the other hand, came with more of a tone of a wedding party where music was being played for dancing. Yet, Jesus says that this generation responded negatively to both! To John they claimed he had a demon and to Jesus they were critical of His partying, calling Him a drunkard, gluttonous and a friend of sinners. "Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds" means that the actions of those who respond will speak most clearly and loudly.
It seems we live in a very similar context today in our world-filled with religiosity, spiritualism and secularism. We are in need of a breath of authenticity like never before. In a day when the mega-church is easily made into a distant show to watch and enjoy without personal engagement and where the small church can easily be so boring with the predictable program and needs, where personal engagement leads to certain burnout. We desperately need authenticity! I believe that authenticity is to be found among those who are interested in walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting for Jesus to lead out. In other words, authenticity today must come from many Elijah-like followers of Jesus who are preparing the way for the Messiah to show up. John showed up with great authenticity and then Jesus continues to show up as promised-"where two or three gather in My name, there I will be in their midst."
Also, in addition to this authenticity introduced by John and Jesus, Jesus offers Himself as the answer to all of the inauthentic religious approaches on the planet.
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Jesus now offers the most simple explanation of what it means to believe in Jesus' way versus the ways of the religious. Remember the call of Matthew that illustrated how it works? The whole world is out to try to make themselves right before God by jumping through all sorts of hoops. That's religion-trying to avoid going to hell-conduct life in such a way so as to be accepted by God. Jesus only requires a personal relationship with Him-"Come to Me." It's a relationship-been to hell and don't want to go back. Much of the hell we experience in life is trying to conduct our lives in such a way so as to be accepted before God.
Jesus invites all who are sick and tired and weighed down by all of the do's and don'ts of trying to be acceptable to God, to simply come to Him. Just come to Jesus and He will give you rest. He gives you rest in two ways-salvation rest (you are accepted by God just the way you are) and rest for your soul (stop the treadmill of stress). This is the most amazing thing ever! Jesus is the only one who can make you acceptable, simply by coming to Him. He'll do the rest!
You see, when you are called to be a disciple, you are called to rest. I am just now understanding this. Although I have known the grace of God, I have been frantically "doing" everything I could do to prove that I am acceptable. I have acted more like a human "doing" rather than a human "being." Jesus wants me to simply come to Him, take on His yoke and learn from Him, so that I will find REST for my soul. This blows my mind! How about you?