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Matthew 11:16-19; 25-30                                 


Comparisons – This passage and what immediately precedes, contains a chiastic comparison: John the Baptist / Jesus vis--vis the crowd who taunt and jeer as children would treat strangers in the marketplace. Jesus is the "expected coming one," and John is the final prophetic word to introduce God’s promised one. But "this generation" lacks discernment and recognizes neither one. [1]

  • The Quandary – John and Jesus are like persons treated poorly by children in the marketplace who refuse to celebrate and participate in their games. "John insists on leading the aesthetic life and calling for repentance, so the people declare him possessed of a demon. Jesus, the Son of Man, feasts in inappropriate ways with inappropriate people, so the people declare him a drunk and glutton. [2]
  • Who Gets It?

The perceptive reader is stunned by this section of Matthew, in which all those who should recognize the definitive revelation of God taking place in their midst instead fail to "get it." John the Baptist, who had baptized Jesus, knew his own unworthiness, and had heard the heavenly voice (11:2-14) did not get it. Those who had their own games to play and found that neither John nor Jesus met the predetermined criteria of their own values (11:16-19) did not get it. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, in whose presence Jesus had lived out the mighty acts of the dawning kingdom of God (11:20-24) did not get it . . . Those who did get it were the "babies," the unpretentious "little ones" who made no claims but could be given the gift of revelation, which comes from God alone (11:25b-27) . . . Who gets it? The passage closes with an invitation . . . to all who know themselves to be burdened and in need of salvation, an invitation to learn and become Jesus’ disciple—they get it. [3]


What charge is Jesus really indicting "this generation" with? Non-participation? Non-support? Speaking out of both sides of the mouth? Non-committal? Sloth?

  • What actions does Jesus refer to that corroborates wisdom?
  • What is the common denominator between all of the characters and communities that Jesus names—and rebukes—in this chapter?


Journey motif—Block #1: Independence Day / Statue of Liberty saying—Give me your tired, your poor—as recalling Jesus’ similar words—Come unto me you who labor and are heavy laden.

  • Block #2: So we are invited to come and find strength for the journey alongside of Jesus; but the journey is not easy as the characters in this chapter indicate.
    1. John the Baptist
    2. the crowds
    3. the cities
  • Block #3: yet we are all invited to travel and learn and find strength with Jesus;

God gives us rest by offering the wisdom of Christ and the companionship of Christ. Jesus shoulders the yoke with us; the journey is difficult, but the God who loves us and walks with us every day chooses to journey with us—and that makes all the difference. [4]


[1] The New Interpreter’s Bible VIII (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), page 269.
[2] Diane Jacobson, New Proclamation 2002 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), page 124.
[3] NIB, page 275.
[4] Adapted from The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2002 Edition (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), page 247.