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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Why Follow a Glutton, Drunk, and Friend of Sinners?

Please read Luke 7:28-35 in your Bible.

Preparing and giving messages from God’s word is a great privilege, one I take seriously. Every week I learn new things about the Bible. Some weeks I learn new things about our human world too.

For example, this week’s passage is about reputation. Jesus and John the Baptist, as public figures, had reputations. Their reputation differed according to whom you were listening. As is my custom, I about to search for illustrations that help illuminate the week’s core teaching. What I learned this week is that reputation is big business.

Believe it or not, there are profession reputation builders in man’s world. You can buy their books and/or utilize their services. For a fee, they can create a new reputation or rehabilitate a bad reputation.

It appears much of this business is founded on social media, the new gossip and legal spots on the “information superhighway.” When your reputation takes a hit on social media, these professional reputation rehabilitation specialists know just how to go to bat for you and restore what internet trolls have taken.

Wow. It has come to this. A person’s reputation is no longer based on what they’ve said or done but on the way they’ve been portrayed by anonymous strangers on social media. This is incredible, that an industry has arisen around recreating a person’s image in the fake digital world.

1. We are NOT who others say we are.

Just as John the Baptist was not who they said he was. They said John was possessed by a DEMON because he lived an ascetic lifestyle (33). I suppose the logic was, “You’d have be possessed to be crazy enough to live on locusts and wild honey.” More damning was his refusal to preach the “party platform” (31-32), another reason they accused him of having a DEMON. They would accuse Jesus of the same thing in Luke 11:15. I speculate a third reason they didn’t like John because of his confrontational approach: he called them a BROOD OF VIPERS (Matthew 3:7) and they probably didn’t think highly of that. Come to think of it, Jesus levelled the same accusation at them (Matthew 12:34; 23:33).

Just as Jesus was not who they said He was. Jesus did not have an ascetic lifestyle, so they accused Him of being a GLUTTON, DRUNKARD and FRIEND to folks they deemed outcasts (34). Here are three examples of Scriptures that seem to support their exclusionary attitude.

On the subject of gluttony, Ezekiel 16:49 pairs gluttony with societal injustice and identifies them as two of the sins of which Sodom was guilty. Regarding drunkards, Proverbs 23:20 says the wise person will not JOIN people WHO DRINK TOO MUCH WINE. One might say Psalm 1:1 directs the faithful to avoid being a FRIEND OF TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS as it offers a blessing for those who do not keep company with the WICKED, SINNERS or MOCKERS.

While you could argue these passages command us to not join people in their sin, the Pharisees took verses like these to mean avoiding all association with “sinners.” Or they were implying Jesus was just like the people He spent time with, condemned by sharing in their sins.

Jesus refused the standards set forth by His pious-sounding critics. He appealed to true WISDOM which is proven to be true by the outcome of its exercise. He was content to be PROVED RIGHT by the fruit of His life (35). For example, John’s followers affirmed true wisdom by saying GOD’S WAY WAS RIGHT (29-30). True wisdom also stands in contrast to the hypocrites’ immaturity as illustrated by the pouting MARKETPLACE CHILDREN of vs. 31-32.

2. We are whomever God says we are.

For example, Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest of the human race but least in the KINGDOM OF GOD (28). How are we to understand this difficult verse, which seems to demote John the Baptist?

We must see Jesus did not denigrate John’s contribution to the Divine Plan. Go back to verses 26+27 to see John’s two roles. He was a PROPHET; the last of the Old Testament-style prophets. Historically, John was a bridge between the Old Testament and New Testament. The quote from Malachi 3:1 points to John’s unique role; the MESSENGER proclaiming the Messiah. The word MESSENGER here is normally translated “angel” and means “envoy.”

Verse 28 is meant to be one of the great affirmations of the status of believers. As important as John was to the plan of God, even the least-known saint takes on a greater importance. This is really a comparison of the Old Covenant to the New. John is offered by Jesus as the pinnacle of the Old Covenant, but he is eclipsed by the least-known New Covenant saint. We shouldn’t take this to mean that John was not a participant in the Kingdom of God, as in Luke 13:28 Jesus said ALL THE PROPHETS are included. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah and in so doing, saw the truth that the Old Testament prophets and angels longed to see (1 Peter 1:9-10-12) but his life ended before he could see Jesus raised from the dead, fulfilling prophecy.

Verses 29-30 reveal the love-hate reactions John inspired in others. The PEOPLE loved John and agreed with Jesus’ assessment of John because they had been baptized by him. They ACKNOWLEDGED GOD’S WAY WAS RIGHT. The religious leaders hated John and rejected his message and refused his baptism. In so doing, they REJECTED GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THEMSELVES.

This is a reversal of what one might’ve expected. The “religious rejects” were the ones who recognized God speaking through John while the “most religious” people missed it entirely.

Jesus rejected their hypocrisy. In verses 31-32 He compared them to a bunch of complaining kids. They rejected John because he didn’t dance according to their tune. They didn’t acknowledge their need to repent and thereby rejected John’s baptism for repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 19:4). They rejected Jesus for the same reason - He refused to conform to their erroneous expectations of how the Messiah would act.

It didn’t matter what kind of tune they played - a DANCE tune or a DIRGE - he refused to play along with them and they were in a huff about it! The FLUTE is a reference to John’s austere lifestyle and aggressive message. He refused to DANCE to their immature demands. The DIRGE is a reference to Jesus’ joyous message and loving lifestyle. He refused to CRY just because they wanted Him to.

Live the life to which God is calling you. Don’t let others choose your life for you.

This may be the only time you hear me quote a rapper; Christian hip-hop singer LaCrae has made a sage observation about reputation. "Some of us are more concerned with our reputation than our character. The latter takes care of the former."

In this passage Jesus rejected and refuted the slanders made against John the Baptist and Himself. Religious hypocrites, possibly jealous or wary of their popularity among the common people, tried to ruin the reputations of each man. Jesus’ teaching was that godly wisdom will manifest in one’s character which will, in turn, be substantiated by one’s words and deeds. He didn’t allow His detractors to define Him but instead remained faithful to the mission God set before Him to do.

This is appropriate for Church Vocations Sunday as we must expect and assist our church leaders in following Jesus’ example. When we make demands of church leaders to suit our selfish interests, we’re behaving like the CHILDREN in the MARKETPLACE. We must support leadership in the church by encouraging and assisting our leaders in doing what God wills.


The NIV Application Commentary, Luke, Darrell L. Bock

The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study, The Gospels, Darrell L. Bock

One Perfect Life, John MacArthur

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Luke, Walter L. Liefield

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