15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Will the Tribulation be 7 years or 3-1/2? Are you sure? Are you so sure you are willing to risk your salvation on it? Will Jesus return on Pentecost some year or the Feast of Trumpets? How sure are you? Are others who disagree with you lost, corrupt and/or going to get what they deserve in the Great Tribulation?
The Pharisees were sure about many things. They were very sure.
Like many things, I’m sure it probably started with good intentions. When the Jews returned from Babylon, they still had to fight many things, including their own carnal nature. Nehemiah was a very zealous man, and he was instrumental in ensuring they got on the right track and stayed there.
The Jews were not ignorant that it was their disobedience that landed them in captivity. In particular, the Sabbath and the land sabbaths were disregarded prior to their evacuation from the land, and so they set their minds on keeping the Law meticulously. It seemed reasonable to them that if the Law was strict, then they would make even stricter rules to ensure a fence or barrier was set around the boundaries of the Law so it would not be violated.
By all human reasoning, it probably sounded like a good thing. Of course, the problem is that it was exactly that: human reasoning. When your righteousness comes from yourself, then by definition you are practicing self-righteousness. That type of righteousness will not and cannot please God.
So, the Pharisees became puffed up. They had lots of knowledge, but their practical application was missing the mark. Their knowledge and their assurance of their righteousness became a dangerous form of pride to them.
Jesus did not fit their view of what the Messiah should look like. Jesus broke the rules — their rules. They were shocked at His behavior, and they did not view Him as righteous — by their standards.
They criticized John because he lived differently than they did. John did not live in a luxurious home. He subsisted most of the time on a dish of locusts and wild honey, although he might have actually been eating cakes made from a flower from the locust tree (carob) rather than the insects (would he have had time to catch them year-round?) and “date honey” which would have held the flour together. If that were true, then it makes more sense why Jesus would say John did not eat or drink. This would have been a reference to eating “lower classed” fare, and locusts and bee honey would have been more of a delicacy that required more work to gather and make.
The Pharisees criticized Jesus for just the opposite, however. He did eat and even drank wine, and He was called a glutton and a lush. Basically, the Pharisees were criticizing no matter what if one fell outside of their narrow expectations. They had expectations of what the Messiah would be like and what He would do.
And, they were sure that Jesus was not the Messiah. They were so sure that they arranged for His death.
Are we so sure about things that are not explicitly stated in Scripture? Could we actually not recognize the Christ if He visited our congregation one Sabbath because He did not fit our expectations?