Jesus was enjoying time with His friends at a house party. Some Pharisee folks were monitoring Jesus, and they were upset with Him for attending this party. Why you ask? That’s a good question. It seems like, if Jesus attends a party, then there is absolutely no way to condemn Him, because He’s perfect. But just for giggles, I’ll give you 3 reasons why these uptight folks were agitated: (1) the party was being hosted by a tax collector (which most likely meant that the house, food, drinks, and entertainment were financed with stolen money); (2) the clientele was probably shady; and (3) the sins of drunkenness and gluttony were almost certainly being committed. …So, the self-appointed monitors confronted Jesus’ disciples, asking them, “Why does your teacher party with shady people?” Jesus overheard the question and replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
THEN the disciples of John chimed in, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered this question by saying, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”
I’m not surprised that the Pharisees chastised Jesus for attending a party at a tax collector’s house. But perhaps I should be more intrigued with the chronic discontentment and self-righteous judgmentalism of the Pharisees because as it turns out …it appears to be a window into MY heart. In other words, I think the main reason I roll-my-eyes at the scrutinizing, critical, offended, and endless botheredness of the Pharisees is because I assume that I’m not a Pharisee. But then God forces me to reckon with the reality that I am absolutely a self-righteous, crotchety, cranky, always-aggrieved, pout-junkie …because while I disassociate with the Pharisees, I sort feel like I’m supposed to identify with the disciples of John. I mean, John is the zealous advocate of Jesus, and he’s super pro-repentance, so it seems like associating with John’s crew is okay. But then, right next to a story about the villainous Pharisees, I find a not-too-flattering story about the disciples of John.
John’s disciples seem to be asking Jesus, “Why are we (and the Pharisees) doing life right; and You are being irresponsible? Why are we (and the Pharisees) disciplining ourselves and suffering for the Kingdom of God, while You and Your crew are partying and having a great time? Why are we (and the Pharisees) dutifully observing the chore and drudgery of fasting, while You don’t!?” It has the same flavor as Martha’s joyless preoccupation with household duties and chores, mingled with her palpable disdain and irritation toward her sister Mary for sitting like a lazy loafer at the feet of Jesus; and eventually she spews the question/accusation, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
This self-appointed prosecutor, this rampant tendency toward being offended and annoyed, this grumbling spirit, this self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-obsessed arrogant caterwauling lives inside me!
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?