In our Gospel today we see 2 things all at once...
1) the deep relationship between John's ministry and Jesus' ministry.
2) the rejection, by many, of both John's ministry and Jesus' ministry.
The story started back in Matthew 11: 2 when Jesus was visited by some of John's followers. They came for John, who was imprisoned, to see who Jesus was and what he was about. Jesus sent them back to John with these words,
4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepersc are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”Matthew 11:4-7 (NRSV)John came to earth in preparing the way for the coming Messiah. Now he wanted to know if Jesus was the one. Jesus responded asking John and his friends to look at what he was doing. John and Jesus were visible figures in Palestine. Their followers and other shared stories about these two. As the stories spread people looked at John and Jesus and their ministries with suspicion.
We believers look at John and Jesus with hope and find renewal for our souls. We hear John's call to repent and see our own need to let go and prepare to meet the savior. We believers listen to the Good News about Jesus and rejoice. And yet people rejected both their ministries,
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, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Matthew 11:18-19 NRSVJesus words in Matthew 11 speak of cities who heard and didn't listen. He speaks council to his friends who faced rejection when the proclaimed the Good News. He speaks council to us when the road is marked with suffering; he offers us a promise in the middle of our labors. The early church knew this kind of experience. Matthew choice to include these teachings of Jesus would have surely brought comfort to a church that faced persecution. I believe these words are good for a church that's facing irrelevance today.
Following Jesus isn't simple; not everyone will believe. Not everyone will find hope. Still we find the promise of eternal life in leaving our yolks behind and picking his up.“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew11:28-30 NRSV