Criticism Of John And Jesus

“‘But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” 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, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds’” (Matthew 11:16–19).

Contemporary people love to criticize whatever the church does, which is really just a convenient excuse to reject the gospel. Such was also true in Jesus’ day, and here He uses two illustrations of criticism to make that point.

First, He applies the children’s game “Funeral” to the criticism of John the Baptist. John lived in the funeral mode, and people became so resentful of his constant stress on repentance and judgment that they claimed he had a demon. He would not let his audience be neutral—he called for commitment to truth and righteousness. But instead of accepting that call, they generally rebuked John’s righteousness.

Second, Jesus applies the game of “Wedding” to Himself. In contrast to John’s austere living, Jesus participated in society’s usual activities. His ministry brought Him into contact with hundreds of ordinary people. This difference from John had not escaped his disciples (Matt. 9:14–15), but the critics exaggerated Jesus’ activities and said His appetites were out of control. It was true that Jesus befriended tax collectors and sinners, but only to offer deliverance from their sins, not to be involved with them in sin (cf. 9:12–13).

Their opponents criticized John and Jesus differently, but the lesson is the same. Like today, the enemies of truth found it easy to criticize but difficult to explain how so many lives were transformed from despair to hope, from anger to love, from enmity to Christ to fellowship with Him.

Ask Yourself

What are some of the most common criticisms against Christianity? Which ones hold water, and which are just rebellious bluster?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.