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Reformation Day (Matthew 11:12-19): Martin Franzmann on The Evil Root of Man’s Contradiction to the Christ

by pastorjuhl ~ October 23rd, 2012

What is the evil root of man’s contradiction to the Christ? Two indictments made by Jesus, one of the people in general and one of their Pharisaic leadership, make it particularly plain. The indictment of the people takes the form of a little parable (Matthew 11:16-19). Jesus compares the men of “this generation” to petulant children sitting in the market place and calling to their playmates:

“We piped to you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.” (11:17)
The men of Israel were under the huge and arrogant delusion that they were entitled to call the tunes to which God’s messengers must dance. They had their frame ready, into which the picture of the returning Elijah, the messenger and harbinger of the Messiah, had to fit; if he failed to fit it, the worse for him. They found his uncompromising and insistent call to repentance hard on the nerves, abnormal and irritating, and so they dismissed him with the verdict: “He has a demon” (11:18). They had their frame ready for the Messiah, and God’s Messiah did not fit it – the worse for Him. His unconditional grace, the all-too-human and humane Messianic Demeanor, the Messianic ministry which took the hopeless cases which Israel’s practitioners had abandoned, the Messianic mercy which sought to make the bruised reed grow straight and strong again and to make the smoldering wick burn bright and clear once more – “this generation” had a word for it: “Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (11:19). They let His human mercy and His blithe and boundless condescension hide His divine glory from their eyes.

That is the evil root of man’s contradiction to the Christ; man seeks to master God. he seeks to dictate to God the ways which god in His grace must go. Man in his own wisdom will not trust the wisdom of God and let it in due time be “justified by her deeds” (11:19). Man will not remember, when he faces God’s mysterious ways, that

God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
The pipers will not admit that thought that the event may vindicate the dancers and not the pipers. The tune-callers cannot conceive of the thought that they may be calling for a mad music which will drown out the large and sober sanity of the peace of God. Man builds highroads for God to travel, and charts a course across the high seas for Him, ways suitable, proper, and right for Him; and man feels himself mightily abused when God comes by some obscure lane in His own unpredictable way of fulfilling His promises of mercy. That attitude is the extreme opposite of the beggary to which the Kingdom is given (5:3), or the meekness which shall inherit the earth (5:5). It is the antithesis of the repentance for which the kingdom of heaven calls (4:17).

Follow Me: Discipleship According to Matthew, pages 99-100

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