This will be brief.
Both John and Jesus wanted people to repent – to turn their lives around, to live by God’s Kingdom-rules.
John got their attention by being ascetic – they found that suspicious.
Jesus got their attention by being “one of the lads”, a real party guy – they found that unrespectable.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time – and sometimes you simply can’t please some people at all.
However, the core problem wasn’t the respective lifestyles of John and Jesus.
It was – and is – a core unwillingness to allow one’s life to be shaken up to the extent that one’s core values change. That’s repentance.
Meet hate with love.
Meet hurt with forgiveness.
Meet rejection with acceptance
and so on…
One thing bothers me – Wright’s question at the end of the commentary:
“What are the excuses people use today to avoid the issue of the kingdom? How can you help them to see that they need to repent and change direction?”
Not an invalid question – but one fraught with danger.
Because, you see, it puts me at risk of attempting to take a tiny speck of sawdust out of someone else’s eye whilst having a ruddy great railway sleeper stuck in my own.
For me, the question is “What are my excuses for avoiding the issue of the kingdom?”
Because, to be honest, my commitment only feels absolute – I know that time will show just how shallow it is. Over and over, Jesus touches my idolatries (old-fashioned word for addictions, attachment to something which becomes the most important thing in my life) and although each time I swear to God I’ll never fight him again (once I finally give in), over and over I fight, with each new call to go deeper, to repent more fully from self-will to God-will.