To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.' For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' (Luke 7:31-34, ESV, emphasis added)In other words, "You find fault with whoever is aligned with God's purposes. You simply can't be pleased."
This accusation against Jesus, however, may have been saying more. It may have been intended to communicate more than Jesus' lack of commitment (in their eyes) to the holiness codes regarding food and drink and table fellowship. The phrase "glutton and drunkard" (in that order) is only used one other time outside of the two uses in the Gospels (Matthew 11:19 is a parallel passage). It's found in Deuteronomy 21:18-21:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (emphasis added)The religious leaders knew the Pentateuch like the back of their hand. Were they not saying that Jesus deserved to be put to death? They viewed him as a rebellious son. And they wanted him dead.
But, oh, the irony! They were the rebellious sons! They deserved to be put to death. And that's exactly why this faithful Son came to live the life they and we could not live. And then he died the death we should have died.
Look where Deuteronomy 21 goes just after this "rebellious son" account:
And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.Jesus became a curse for us, so that we might receive the blessing - the blessing of faithful, (New) covenant sonship.
Galatians 3:13-14, 26, 29:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. ... And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.The irony, then, in the accusation of Luke 7:34, is thick. And it is glorious! Though Jesus was not literally a glutton or a drunkard, he did most certainly "become" a glutton and a drunkard. And a whole lot more. On the Cross. All for us. All in our place.
2 Corinthians 5:21:
For our sake he (The Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin (like gluttony and drunkenness and every other known sin) who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.Jesus willingly took on flesh and blood. He endured the shame of being called a glutton and a drunkard. Then he "became" a rebellious son and died in our place. He despised the shame of "becoming" a glutton and a drunkard...and every other evil thing we've ever thought or desired or done or become. And he did it all so that his faithful sonship could become ours, so that rebellious sons like us could be reconciled and call God, "Abba, Father!"
Savor the glorious irony of this shameful accusation! In Christ, the "glutton and drunkard," we rebellious, death-deserving, cursed sons are now repentant, believing, faithful, blessed sons!