Authenticity is appreciated. Hypocrisy is condemned. That is nothing new.
What is more, the issue than even whether something is called authentic or hypocritical is when something is declared such (either way). Both Jesus’ and John’s ministries could have been declared authentic. With both men, you got what you got.
By Jesus’ own words we see how each of them approached their ministry was quite different. Jesus wasn’t making a comparison. It was an observation.
John followed a historic precedent by wearing a hair shirt and eating cakes of locust and honey. This certainly wasn’t a requirement, but a number of respected Jewish sects (the Essenes, for example) followed this sort of practice.
Other than preaching and miracles, Jesus acted more like one of the guys. He went to parties. He hung out with people.
Two very different takes.
The religious leaders had problems with both and attacked both for their practices. In the case of John, it does seem somewhat risky as the practices were followed by respected people. Jesus’ practices were pretty normal, and yet they were challenged, too.
Both men were accused, basically, of being false, and different measures were used to condemn or disregard them.
We see the real intent (as if we didn’t know) with the exorcisms that Jesus performed. The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being in league (if not in the house of) the devil. He was doing the same thing they were, but because it was Jesus, it must be the devil.
We can reasonably infer that there was nothing John or Jesus could do while remaining faithful to their calling, that would satisfy the religious leaders. That is a sad indictment. When religious practice and traditions find nothing of value in faithfully filled callings, it puts practice, tradition, and even religion in question.
Holy Spirit, help us to be faithful to your call on our lives. Help us to set aside practices and traditions that inhibit faithfully fulfilling our call. Guide us also into wisdom and truth, especially through others, so that we do not deceive ourselves. Amen.
1) Have you ever experienced a tension between something you were taught was “right”, but seemed to go against your calling? How did you resolve it?