Friday 22nd March – Luke 7:31-35 ‘Spoilt children’

Luke 7:31-35

When I was seven years old, my nan sent me 10p in the post as a gift – oh for the days when you could still post coins!  I opened the envelope, saw the coin and note from my nan, and said, to my enduring shame: ‘Is that all?’  My mum, usually the gentlest and most gracious of people, gave me such a telling off for ingratitude that I never forgot the lesson.

Jesus recognised a similar trait in his generation, too.   More than a thousand years of being God’s chosen people had created among many a sense of entitlement, and a cynicism about true spiritual renewal. For all that Jesus was welcomed by thousands, many others looked down their noses at him and found fault.  As Jesus observes wryly, they are behaving like spoilt children, for whom nothing is good enough (v32).

Such people criticised John for being too ascetic and Jesus for being too lax (vv33-34)!  The issue, of course, is not with Jesus or John, but their determination to reject the way of God, which Jesus and John both came to bring them.  For all that they resented the Romans, their lives were OK as they were – just religious enough to feel entitled, but not so much to feel harassed by it. 

As an aside, in the gospels Jesus only uses the phrase ‘the Son of Man came…’ three times.  ‘The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost…’ ‘The Son of Man came not be served but to serve…’ – these two are rightly celebrated.  The third is much less noted, and we find it here: ‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking…’  Hospitality and welcome were central to Jesus’ ministry.  There’s nothing wrong with John’s rigorous self-discipline; but, Jesus’ willingness to socialise with those on the margins is perhaps just as central to his theology of the kingdom as the other two.  It calls us to reflect on how we practise this today.

Either way, Jesus concludes with another reference to judging things only by their fruit.  ‘Wisdom is proved right by her children’ (v35): in other words, look at the outcomes.  Jesus calls us, not to be spoilt children, but those who receive the kingdom like a child: open-hearted, trusting, ‘all-in’.  And as we do that, our hearts overflow with gratitude, and energise us to share this welcoming love wholeheartedly with those around us.  Who could you offer that to this week, or even today?