Jesus spoke about the work of John the Baptist to the people, and they “justified God,” for they had received his baptism. However, Luke says that the Pharisees
…rejected the will of God for themselves, not
having been baptized by him. (Luke 7:30)
That is the backdrop for a parable Jesus used to describe the scribes and Pharisees. He said:
To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and
what are they like? They are like children sitting in the
marketplace and calling to one another, saying, ‘We
played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we
mourned to you, and you did not weep. (Luke 7:31-32)
There are times when the Lord used the image of a child to characterize the faithful (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). This is not one of those. It is not the humility or a child or their trusting nature that He focuses on, but as sometimes appears, fickleness and selfishness.
John, likely a Nazirite (Luke 1:15; 7:33), was sent by God as the forerunner of the Christ. The common people received him, but the religious elite would not, even saying that “He has a demon.” The Scriptures reveal John to be an eccentric man, but a powerful proclaimer of the kingdom.
When the Lord came, His message was the same as John’s, though His personality was quite different. Like John, the Lord would be accused of having a demon (John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20). Jesus was not a Nazirite, and so He joined the common people at feasts and dinners (John 2; Matthew 9:10). For this, the Pharisees would call Him
A glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of tax collectors and
sinners! (Luke 7:34)
Both men were spoken of by the prophets, so how could those who knew the law and the prophets not recognize and receive them? The answer is not flattering at all—they behaved like spoiled children, and since they did not like what they saw in either man, because John and Jesus didn’t “play the game” the way the scribes and Pharisees wanted, they rejected them.
That is the picture the Lord gives in this short parable to describe that generation. The children in Jesus’ parable pretend to be in a wedding (flute & dance) and also at a funeral (mourn & lament). They were upset because their companions would not play along. Elsewhere Jesus tells us about the activities of the Pharisees in the marketplace, how they loved the attention of the crowd (Matthew 23:5-7). Neither John nor Jesus played their game with them, and so the scribes and Pharisees were offended at them and rejected them.
Friend, too many people today are playing games when it comes to religion and as a result do not truly receive the Lord nor those who bear His message. The degree of religious division we see around us reveals that folks are more interested in doing things how they want rather than how the Lord wants. May that not be the case with us.
Years ago, a man spoke with me about what “his Jesus” would like and not like when it came to worship. The phrase “my Jesus” speaks volumes! If you don’t like what the Son of God says, make up your own Saviour with his own rules. This has happened in the religious world all too often. A made up Saviour cannot save. Only Jesus Christ, as described to us in Scripture, saves.
Will we receive the Lord and His word, or will we be like the scribes and Pharisees? Will we justify God, and receive the salvation offered in Jesus Christ, or will we reject the will of God for ourselves? God has done His part, will we do our’s?