Wednesday, August 6, 2008

a glutton and a drunkard

I find it fascinating that Jesus was accused, of all things, of being “a glutton and a drunkard” by the super-religious law-keepers of his day (Matt 11:19). Now, on the one hand, this makes a lot of sense. After all, Jesus would sit at table with all sorts of people – women and men, Gentile and Jew, tax collectors and priests, prostitutes and lepers. In doing so, he was creating a new society, a new family, a new Israel. And the super-religious law-keepers of his day didn’t appreciate the society, the family, the Israel that Jesus was creating. After all, for the law-keepers, the Lord’s Table required purity. But for Jesus, God’s Table created purity. Big difference. For the law-keepers, one came to God’s Table only if one was pure. But Jesus’ table worked differently. People came to Jesus’ table to find healing. And people in need of healing don’t pretend that they’re pure.

But not so for the law-keepers. There was something truly scandalous about the people Jesus chose to dine with. So scandalous that they called Jesus a “glutton and a drunkard.” Now, it would be a mistake to think that the law-keepers were just being mean-spirited. To call someone a “glutton and drunkard” in antiquity was not a childish put-down, the first-century equivalent of calling someone a “putz” or an “idiot.” No, to call Jesus “a glutton and a drunkard” is to make a legal charge against Jesus. For the law-keepers, calling someone a “glutton and a drunkard” is code for calling someone a disobedient son (see Deut 21:19-21). And a disobedient son, according to the Torah, deserved death.

Do you see the irony? Jesus welcomed the impure to his table in order to make them pure. He did so because he was God’s obedient son, and yet in doing so was accused of being disobedient. For the law-makers, Jesus’ death was just – after all, he acted like a disobedient son. And yet in dying as God’s Son, Jesus manifested the fullness of his obedience.

FOR TODAY: Jesus’ table is a future and eschatological reality. Like Jesus said, I want you to “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk 22:29). And so for today, do something to prepare for Jesus’ table. More specifically, be intentional about spending time with people that would cause the “super-religious law-makers” of our world to grumble. Jesus invited them to his table. Today you might consider inviting them to yours.


KAM said...

I'm inviting Mark and Sheena. But I'm not even sure Jesus would approve. Here's to weeping and gnashing of teeth.

John Newton said...


Tucker said...

I was at table once with Newton and was attacked by a third party. Newton's table is a bit rougher than Jesus'

Karen said...

I wish John Newton was still at our table . . . we miss you!

Bookmarking the blog, of course. Keep going.