The Book of Luke, Jesusí Support of John the Baptist, Part II Ė Lesson 91
Luke 7:29- 34, And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. 31And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. 33For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35But wisdom is justified of all her children.
Before we look into this passage let us consider the setting we find here.
Jesus had just received and answered the question from John, Art thou He that should come? Or look we for another?
It is obvious from his address to the crowd that He knew of a turning against John and so he addressed the people accordingly.
For he asked specific questions of them which made them think back on their reasons for following John and in so doing gave his full backing of John as the greatest of all prophets.
Jesus was clearly righteously angry in his address to the people about John and I believe he continues that righteous indignation in this passage as he brings to their mind a story about the play habits of children.
In this story Jesus likens the men of this generation to children sitting in the market place and calling one to another.
It is clear that by means of this story Jesus is accusing these critics of being childish. Not being childlike but being childish.
There is a difference between being childlike and being childish.
Jesus Christ preached the need to be childlike but he never endorsed childishness for grown up men and women.
Paul wrote of this in: I Cor. 13:11, When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
It is natural for a child to do childish things but when growing up takes place there is no allowance for childish things.
They are to be put away.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus told us that ďExcept ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heavenĒ
This was not meant as a license to be childish because Jesus further described this as one who therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
So there is never permission for an adult to be childish but Jesus compared the men of the generation he was talking to, to children with childish ways.
The picture the Lord Jesus Christ paints for us to see is that of children gathering in the market place to play games.
Games are made for children.
Remember the games some of used to play way back when.
Marbles and Tops, Hide and Seek, Tag Ė it, Kick the Can, Red rover.
The girls used to play Jacks with a small rubber ball, Hopscotch on the sidewalk, and Jump rope.
We are told that the children of Jesusí day were playing games in the market.
Most likely it was not a market day and the empty market square was a good spacious place to play.
All the booths were put up, the area was swept for the next market day.
It does seem natural that children flock to an area that has just been cleaned and straightened up and in good shape.
Children cannot abide an orderly place and it is their duty to get it into a disorderly state whether it be a place or their face or their clothes for that is part of being childish.
Your job is to train them out of it as they grow to adulthood.
But in an empty marketplace there was ample room to play just about any game a child could come up with and it is here reported that two games were being considered.
We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
The first game is described by piping and by dancing, things that are done at a wedding.
The second game is described by mourning and by weeping things that are done at a funeral.
So the children were opting for the games of wedding and the of funeral.
I have never heard nor played the game of funeral but in those days funerals were much more connected to the community of children than that of our day.
We in our culture are careful to hide that which may be distressing to our children thinking that it is for their own good but in reality that kind of sheltering is probably to their harm.
But in those days funerals were most likely performed on the day of death, there being no hospitals nor funeral homes so things were done closer to the day to day lives of the children than we find today.
So it was natural for them to mimic the wedding and the funeral processions in their games.
Children love to mimic our adult practices if they have the freedom to use their imagination.
Children should have such freedom and not always provided with pre-finished and adult made up games with adult made up rules.
Some of my fondest memories as a child were of the play times all the children of the neighborhood partook in with their own made up rules of game etiquette.
But one thing that happens with children in their made up games is that children conduct themselves in childish ways.
And it is in this story that Jesus so demonstrates.
It is one of those days that things do not go so right in the marketplace as far as game playing is concerned.
Some children begin to play the flute pretending to mimic the wedding music, a music of celebration and happiness.
Now when this is done the other children are expected to join in the game and begin to dance as would be appropriate for a wedding.
The scripture says to rejoice with them that do rejoice.
So those that piped the wedding music were looking for cooperation, they were looking for participation to make the game a success.
Weddings are times of rejoicing and they wanted the other children to dance as an expression of rejoicing.
But there is no appropriate response to the piping. There was no dancing.
There was no cooperation.
Other children have their own ideas and do not go along with that proposal so they do not dance to the music.
So the players put their flutes away and begin to howl in pitiful mournful dirges, mimicking their elders and the funeral processions so common to their community.
If not a wedding how about a funeral, they say?
If not happiness how about sadness.
The scripture says to weep with them that weep.
Surely that compromise will satisfy. If not dancing how about weeping.
But no way does that satisfy.
So the children who turned from wedding play to funeral dirges scold their playmates for being so uncooperative.
But does that end the argument?
No, it does not because we are seeing what it means to be childish.
The first complaint is met by a louder return complaint.
This kind of thing happens every day with children.
Letís play wedding says one child.
Let Nicole be the bride, let Rachel be the maid of honor, Iíll be the groom says James, Paul can be the best man, Gregory can be the father of the bride.
Ryan can be the preacher.
So some of the children start singing the wedding march.
This is a time of happiness, a time of rejoicing.
But instead of that bringing happiness to the other children it brings voices of opposition.
Letís not do that silly stuff.
Thatís for the girls.
Then letís do a funeral. Yeah, thatís it, letís do a funeral!
Iíll be the funeral director.
The pallbearers are James, Paul, Kyle and Bryan
Who wants to be the corpse?
Now is this suggestion of funeral play welcomed?
No, for loud protests are heard after this suggestion.
Quarrels develop. Words fly. Nothing satisfies.
Not the happiness of a wedding, not the sadness of a funeral.
All the children are disgruntled, unhappy and cannot be pleased.
For each of the children want their own way but even when they get their own way they become dissatisfied.
This is the picture that Jesus paints of the men of this generation for he says:
Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
The way the children are behaving is the way you are behaving.
You are being childish. You are fickle and nothing satisfies.
John came to you neither eating bread nor drinking wine and because of that you are critical of him and say that He hath a devil.
I come to you eating and drinking and you declare me a gluttonous man and a winebibber; a friend of publicans and sinners.
I am like the wedding game and John was like the funeral game and both are condemned as unfit to play.
One extreme to the other and all in the middle will not satisfy.
The point of this story that the Lord relates is that there were people who had already made up their minds not to co-operate regardless of who came with the truth.
There are people who are always looking for what is wrong with a thing, some fine point that is missed, that they miss the blessing.
Perhaps a spelling error is in a Projector article and they rejoice because they found it but miss the truth of what is written for their learning.
Cob web finders they are.
Come into a well kept room, the room that has been cleaned and scrubbed from top to bottom, from ceiling to floor and look and look and look to find the cobweb that was missed.
Nothing satisfies. They go to a concert and canít wait to hear the first error from the piano or the violin so they can gloat.
Whether the preacher laughed or cried, preached long sermons or short sermons, spoke of the happiness of the blessed or the sorrow of the damned - he would never be able to please his listeners for his listeners were still children acting the part of children, the part that is called childish.
Their prejudice and preconceived ideas had already closed the door of their hearts.
Nothing that God did would satisfy them for they intended to remain as they were Ė foolish, arrogant and evil for the fool says in his heart there will be no God for me.
So Jesus declares the men of Israel to be as children, childish, stubborn, wanting their own way, not satisfied with Godís provision.
He intimates that the people used to be filled with enthusiasm about John, that they were even in awe of him and did not find fault with his austere ways and his call to repentance.
But now there is talk that he is too harsh, and unsociable; his message is too severe.
He may even be possessed by a devil.
And Jesus intimates that the people are also turning against Him, the Son of man.
The people point their finger at him and say he demands self denial in others but he himself is a glutton and a drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
31And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32They are like unto children
And as children operate by emotion and total self interest so do the men of this generation.
But the Lord Jesus Christ points out in the end such thoroughly unfair and bitter criticism and intolerance will get nowhere for he says in Verse 35
But wisdom is justified of all her children.
The Amplified Bible says it this way: Yet wisdom is vindicated (shown to be true and divine) by all her children [by their life, character, and deeds].
This statement is a challenge to the people to look at the results of what wisdom accomplishes in those who let it operate in them.
Look at what the wisdom of John the Baptist accomplished, when he insisted on repentance and conversion.
The wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ when he held out the hope of salvation was shown to be fully justified or vindicated, shown to be true and divine in the hearts and lives of all her children.
These were the children who allowed themselves to be guided by that wisdom.
John and Jesus each were called by God for a particular mission.
Each had his distinct mission to perform and each carried out his assignment.
Jesus who is wisdom personified carried out his mission perfectly; without fault.
Both John and Jesus were right and true and their words were to be honored by the people.
They are not to be compared against each other and sides chosen or both rejected.
John proclaimed the good news.
Jesus proclaimed the good news but not only that he came into this world that their might be good news to proclaim.
Wisdomís children, then are all those who were wise enough to take to heart the message of both John and of Jesus.
Wisdom is vindicated (shown to be true and divine) by what it does to people who by grace possess and exercise it.
The demonstration of true wisdom in the lives of men and women is peace and joy in their hearts.
They are a blessing to others and they will glorify God.