A Rebellious Son
I was listening to Deuteronomy this morning when a phrase caught my ear.
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Now look at what Jesus has to say about his accusers.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.
Jesus was not merely being insulted. He was being called a rebellious son of Israel, worthy of death! Now what about that reference to wisdom? Interestingly, the only other place the phrase “glutton and drunkard” is found (other than the parallel passage in Luke 7) is in Proverbs.
Hear, my son, and be wise,
and direct your heart in the way.
Be not among drunkards
or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and slumber will clothe them with rags.
So what deeds of Wisdom is Jesus referring to? Let’s back up in Proverbs a bit.
Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
It seems to me Jesus is accusing his accusers of chasing folly rather than embracing wisdom by mistaking the feasting and mirth of the kingdom for gluttony and drunkenness. I’m guessing we have a similar problem in the culture of the American church today.