Matthew 11:7-18 Man-Made Religion

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’[c]

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

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, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Man-Made Religion

It is a popular accusation to say that mankind invented religion to give him something to do on a Sunday morning.  Seriously, though, mankind looked at the cosmos, it is said, and invented a religion to explain its enormity.  Primitive man didn’t have the science to understand earthquakes, so mankind developed religion to explain it was a god snoring, shrugging, or with indigestion.  As science has expanded, so such religion has been discarded.  However true some of these anthropological studies may be, Christianity does not fall into that category.  The religious people of Jesus’ time were petulant because they wanted to create Jesus in their image.  They wanted to call the shots and neither John the Baptist with his prophetic ministry or Jesus as the Messiah impressed those who were authorities on religion very much.  Jesus says here that, like spoiled brats, they wanted to dictate the game to John and Jesus, but John and Jesus wouldn’t play along.

Many people with doctorates have reasons to dismiss Jesus’ perspective on how life should be lived.  However, is the quality of life really getting better.  I know that we don’t drink polluted water and we are able to drive great distances thanks to technological advancements, but aren’t we somehow becoming more distant from each other, more consumer-driven, more selfish?  This selfishness is leading to existential angst, but will not turn to God on God’s terms.  People invent a religion drawing the pieces they think they want and discarding whatever doesn’t make them feel good in the short run.  They whine about church rather than contributing to church; they whine about their spouse rather than serving their spouse; they whine about things in a world where their religion must worship them and they are entitled to whatever they desire.  Where are the prophets like John who would call us out, and point out that our narcissism is ruining the planet and destroying society?

Questions

  1. How does Jesus describe John?
  2. How does Jesus describe the generation to whom he ministered?
  3. How is Jesus’ message proved correct?
  4. How would you describe the western world’s spiritual health in 2012?
  5. How might God make sure that you do not dictate your own religion, but bend the knee to His plan?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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6 Responses to Matthew 11:7-18 Man-Made Religion

  1. hannawarren says:

    Hey Mr. Worrall, if you have the time, please, share with me what you believe verses 16 & 17 mean. I have never understood them, so it is time I look them up. Your input would be appreciated, too.

    • Plymothian says:

      16 & 17 refers to spoiled children running around and insisting that because they choose to play a certain tune they get annoyed when others won’t play along. It is the spoiled attitude of the scribes who thought Jesus was too much fun and John should have lightened up. Really, they think Jesus and John should have played their legalistic tune.

    • Plymothian says:

      Hope Nottingham is treating you well.

  2. Jonna Leshock says:

    5. How might God make sure that you do not dictate your own religion, but bend the knee to His plan?

    I think it’s so important to remember that God is the one in control – always. We will ALL bend our knee to him at some point, whether we choose to or not. So often I fall into the trap of believing “I” can handle daily life on my own – that I am in charge, I am in control. In my head I know this isnt’ true, but I don’t always live by the truth that “Apart from God, I can do nothing.” God might make sure that I remember this truth by allowing me to live by these lies – to take on life by myself. And for awhile, I may even find success in my ways, but always, the world and these lies will catch up with me. I may burn out, grow bitter, fail, or be hit with a tragic circumstance – all of which will bring me to my knees and back to God. God uses these times to teach me, grow me, and ultimately lead me back to following his plan instead of my own.

  3. hannawarren says:

    Thank you for your response; I understand the passage now. Nottingham is treating me well. God has provided everything I need here. That does not mean everything is easy, but I know it is an important piece of my journey. hope you and your family are well.

    • Plymothian says:

      I am grateful for the family I have. Glad Nottingham is treating you okay. The British have a habit of using the same words and meaning something different. I hope you get out of the town and see the countryside. It is, in my opinion, what makes Britain Great.

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