How does it change your life to live knowing you are accepted by God?
31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
Many ordinary people recognised that God was speaking through John the Baptist. But the religious leaders (the Pharisees and teachers of the law) would not listen to John. Jesus shows that the religious leaders have already decided to reject God’s message, spoken through John and then through Jesus. The religious leaders are like children rejecting potential playmates with fake reasons: they reject John’s demands as too strict and they reject Jesus’ welcome of sinners as too lax. In the next story, Simon the Pharisee finds a reason to reject Jesus: if Jesus was a man of God he would know that the woman kissing his feet was a prostitute and would not allow it. Jesus tells a story that shows that all Simon has is religion, but what Jesus offers is God’s grace. Jesus applies his point by saying to the prostitute: “Your sins are forgiven.” Those present show their spiritual blindness by asking, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” They are religious people who will not respond to the evidence before their eyes.
Timothy Keller puts it this way in Center Church (p.63): “Religion (‘I obey; therefore I am accepted’) is so different from the gospel (‘I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey’) but it is such an effective counterfeit.” The truth of God expressed in John’s preaching goes hand-in-hand with the grace of God emphasised by Jesus. The gospel of God’s grace in Jesus enables us to say, “I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey.”
Head: How do I think about my behaviour? Religion (‘I obey; therefore I am accepted’) or gospel (‘I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore I obey’)?
Heart: Ponder in your heart the truth that you are accepted by God because of Jesus.
Hands: What good thing can you do for someone today, not to be accepted, but because you are accepted by God in Jesus?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess I sometimes try to obey to be accepted. Please forgive me for that. Thank you for your amazing love and forgiveness in Jesus. Thank you that you accept me in Jesus. Please enable my good actions to be motivated by the truth that I am already accepted by you in Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: This is Amazing Grace