Matthew 11: 12 (Jesus said) From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force…18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 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.”
In this passage Jesus sounds exasperated. He continues to experience opposition (“violence” in v.12) from fellow Jews, especially those in positions of authority and power. In v.18-19 he offers an example. John the Baptist was particularly pious, barely eating anything, continually fasting, and drinking only water. Yet it was said of him, “He has a demon”. Jesus was something of an opposite, eating and drinking – but was called a “glutton and a drunkard”. Sometimes you can’t win for losing.
Then there is “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds”. What does he mean by this? Well, sounds to me like the wise leaders weren’t very wise after all, or they would have received Jesus and his message of the Kingdom. However, many who were considered simple and unlearned did receive him and follow him – making them wise.
Over many years I’ve had opportunity to share my faith with all kinds of people. What I’ve learned is that you can’t make someone ready to receive Jesus. Either the Spirit of the Lord has gone ahead and prepared someone to be open to faith – or not. It’s really a grace thing. It cannot be forced. This was certainly true of me.
I can think of a number of times in my late teens to early 20s when people tried to interest me in Jesus but I was closed to faith. Not interested. Too busy having a good time. Then I got married to a lifelong Christian woman. My relationship with her is what opened me to engage faith in a new way. It’s not that others who’d reached out to me before Jana did anything wrong. I just wasn’t ready yet.
Some of you are frustrated that people you know and love are closed to Jesus. I understand. I wish I could tell you the fool-proof method of Christian invitation but there is no such thing. Those we love will be ready when the Lord makes them ready. Not a minute sooner.
Lord give us grace to trust your timing in the lives of those we love. We lift them to you in prayer today. Do a work in them only you can do. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.