What does Matthew 11:19 mean?
ESV: 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.”
NIV: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.'
NASB: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a heavy drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ And yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.'
CSB: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! ' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
NLT: The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.'
KJV: The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
NKJV: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is showing how the current generation of Israelites is like children who are disappointed because their friends won't participate in their games. The Israelites, as a whole, complained that neither John nor Jesus met their expectations for how a prophet or the Messiah should act. The two complaints presented are mirror images of each other. The point, overall, is that the people are simply looking for excuses not to believe.

In the previous verse, Jesus pointed out that many accused John of being demon-possessed (Matthew 11:18). In part, this was because of his strange and restrictive lifestyle. He didn't drink alcohol or go to dinner parties. Instead, he lived in a strange place, wearing strange clothes, eating strange food, and calling people to repent of sin. It was easier to declare a man like that demonized than to reckon with his warnings about God's judgment.

On the other hand, Jesus did attend dinner parties and drink wine. That's what He means when He says that He came eating and drinking. The people who did not want to hear Jesus' message made false accusations—exactly the opposite of those they might have applied to John the Baptist—that because Jesus did not fast as other religious people did and because He did not abstain from wine, He must be a glutton and drunkard. Neither of those things was true.

Another problem for Jesus' critics, especially religious leaders, was the people with whom He associated. Jesus ate dinner with tax collectors and other known "sinners:" those who didn't strictly follow the law. This is Matthew's gospel, and Matthew once again points out what it cost Jesus' reputation to call him, a former tax collector (Matthew 9:9), as one of the twelve disciples.

Jewish religious leaders staunchly refused to have any association with tax collectors or others of low reputation. They wrongly believed this increased their religious worth above those like Jesus, who spent time with such people. In one instance, Jesus condemned them for failing to show mercy to the spiritually "sick," the ones who most needed a doctor (Matthew 9:12–13).

Jesus' point was that the Israelites of this generation, as a whole, rejected John the Baptist and Jesus. But they did so for contradictory reasons. The truth was they refused to accept the teachings of either. Neither John nor Jesus met the people's own, skewed ideas for what a prophet or religious teacher should be like.

Christ concludes by stating a simple proverb: Wisdom is justified by her deeds. Some ancient manuscripts, including Luke's version of this statement, put it slightly differently: "Wisdom is justified by all her children" (Luke 7:35). Both make the same case. The wisdom of Jesus and John the Baptist is demonstrated by the results which come from those actions. It's not their eating and drinking and dinner companions that matter, it's the content of their message and what comes from their actions that will prove them to be genuine or not. Both would be fully vindicated by the fulfillment of Jesus' mission.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:1–19 deals with John the Baptist, who is in prison at this point (Matthew 4:12). John sends his own disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them an answer and then upholds John to the crowds. He reminds them of John's strength and affirms that John was the prophet who fulfilled the prophecy about the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This generation, though, rejected John's message of repentance, saying that John had a demon and that Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus insists He and John will be proved right in the end.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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