But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, 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, Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.
At that time Jesus said, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 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.
I happened to pass the living room and saw his face on the television screen. He wore the robes of a monk and looked ever so serene. (The bald head helped) He was being interviewed on a chat show. (South Africa’s own Oprah wannabe, Noelene) Being interested in all things spiritual I stopped long enough to hear this dialogue…
Noelene: Are you telling me that you never get angry?
Monk: No I experience anger but I choose not to act on it.
Nolene(Incredulous): So if you are on the freeway and someone cuts in front of you, you won’t hoot or yell at them?
Monk: I might think of doing those things but I will ask myself this question before acting, “What will this change?”
“What will this change?”
A skilful question to be sure. As a preacher I sometimes ask myself the same question before and after preaching! Counting conservatively I realise that I have preached upwards of fourteen hundred sermons. What did they change?
As I read the gospel this Sunday, I find a deep resonance with Jesus who is remonstrating far more vociferously with his congregation than I have had to courage to do with mine. It is difficult to pin down the exact emotions Jesus is expressing, but they are incarnationally and beautifully human feelings to be sure! I can follow and serve a God who can experience these emotions that are so much part of my daily life. Jesus not only confronts, he also condemns. “Woe to you…” Wow! He is ticked off!
And then suddenly he changes direction. Matthew marks the change with a time check, “At that time Jesus said,…”
I would love to ask Jesus what triggered the change?
Did he notice a facial expression, did he experience a change of feeling tone, or did he simply remember his own parable? The one about the reckless sower who doesn’t care where the seed falls or what it produces,leaving the outcome to God. I will never know.
What I do know is that Jesus, having vented his spleen at the hard of heart, non-responders then turns to a prayer of thanks to God for those who are able, because of their innocence and of their liminal lives full of pain, to hear and receive what is being offered.
The proud and arrogant, those who have all the answers, those who think they are “self-made” will never see and receive what the burdened and heavily laden ones will see and receive.
There is something about the pain of human suffering, that tills the soil for the fertile seed of Jesus’ words.
If Jesus had an advertising bill board it could have read, “Troubled? Make the change to Yoke Light”
What did these words change?
If you ask the burdened heavily laden ones who have come to Jesus down through the ages, they will probably testify, that those words changed everything!
Maybe these words will do that for someone too?