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John and Jesus (20 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
The passage from which the two sentences of my text are taken has for its subject the obstinate and unreasoning perversity of the Jews as illustrated in their treatment of John and Jesus. They were like sulky children, Jesus says, who peevishly refused to join in when their little companions suggested they should play at weddings, and who, with equal peevishness, refused again when, to please them, their companions offered to change weddings for funerals. John and Jesus represented contrasted types of teaching and preaching. The natural expectation would be that if one type of teaching did not suit the Jews, the other would. But neither John nor Jesus pleased them. They criticized and rejected both alike. They objected to John because he held himself so completely aloof from the common life of men; they objected to Jesus because He condescended to share in it. They criticized John for his asceticism, they criticized Jesus for His geniality. 'John the Baptist is come eating no bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!' All of which, of course, shows that the Jews' rejection of John and Jesus was not due to any honest difficulty or doubt, but was due to the perversity of their own hardened and evil hearts.
It is not, however, about the perversity of the Jews that I desire to speak. It is the difference between John and Jesus, as our Lord here describes it, that has attracted my attention, and it is upon some thoughts suggested by that difference that I wish to speak. John and Jesus, we may say, were absolutely one in aim. They were both God's servants. They were both intent upon winning the people back into holy ways. They were both eager to bring in the kingdom of God. Indeed, so identical in spirit and aim were John and Jesus, that ...
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