Read: Matthew 11:7-19
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” (Matthew 11:16, 17 ESV)
The Pharisees were major critics of John and Jesus, neither of whom avoided offending their ridiculous religious pride on a regular basis. Jesus compared to them to children playing wedding and funeral games. They were fake and phony. Less than the real thing, poor replacements. The Pharisees fell short of what God had called them to in a lot of ways. They had traded authentic communion with God for shallow and ridiculous purity rituals.
It would be kind of like if you were supposed to have dinner with your family or close friends, but all you did was stay in the bathroom and wash your hands all night instead of ever taking your place at the table. What’s worse is that they kept calling everyone else into the bathroom too. Their message to everyone was something like, “the only way to really worship God is if you stay here and wash your hands.”
They were fake. It was tragically sad because I’m sure there were many among their number who legitamately believed they were doing the right things. It kind of makes you want to step back and examine your own life when you think about it like that. Is there any area in my life where I am accepting less than the real thing? Am I trading authenticity and communion for shallow ritual or stubborn tradition? God helps us to find these areas of our loves that we might be blind to if we’re serious about coming to terms with them.