We played the flute, but you didn’t dance.

The next thing in Luke 7 is Jesus addressing His relationship to John the Baptist.  First, John himself wants clarity: are You the Messiah?  Was Jesus the One prophesied, or just another prophet?  John asks this from his jail cell.

Jesus replies with a paraphrase of some prophecies from places like Isaiah 35, and then this little phrase: “anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed” (v. 23, hcsb).  Then He turns and addresses the crowd, and starts talking about who John is: did they come to see someone swayed by every wind, someone wearing pretty clothes?  No, they came to see a prophet, a rough and tumble profit cut in the mold of Elijah.  And more than a prophet, but specifically the prophet, who would prepare the way for the Messiah.

Then another curious little passage: Luke says that even the tax collectors acknowledged John’s message of righteousness and were baptized.  And the Pharisees rejected John as a prophet, rejected the plan of God which he brought, and were not baptized.  This would seem a huge illumination on Acts 19:2-7, where Paul says in Acts 19:4 (hcsb), “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”  And then they rebaptized the disciples of John.  So John told people Christ was coming, and prepare their hearts with repentance, and baptism as a sign of that, but then in Acts there is the baptism in the name of Jesus and accompanied by the Spirit.  At any rate, to return to Luke, we see here that “all the people” were baptized, which seems to not necessarily mean that they knew of Jesus or the full plan of salvation, but rather of repentance and the way that John was teaching.  And in Acts only 12 such are mentioned as coming forth again for baptism.   We also the important fact that the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected the prophet altogether.  So it would seem that some saw the wisdom of John was from God, but still rejected Christ; and some rejected both prophet and Messiah together.  And some—a very few—accepted both.

Which brings us to Christ’s description of “this generation” (v 32, hcsb):

They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to each other:
We played the flute for you,
but you didn’t dance;
we sang a lament,
but you didn’t weep!

In other words, I think—both John and Christ defied the expectations of the teachers of the Law.  They neither danced on cue nor wept on cue.  The people accused John of being too ascetic (v 33) and Jesus of being too indulgent (v 34).  They were pleased at nothing, and very particular.  But, Christ says, “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (v 35).  It is worth pointing out that in Matthew 11, the parallel chapter to Luke 7, Jesus follows this speech by denouncing all the towns where He did miracles and yet the people did not repent, including Capernaum (Matt 11:23) which He says will be punished more severely than Sodom.  And He concludes by thanking God “because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants” (Matthew 11:25, hcsb).

The generation is happy with nothing, rejected God’s prophet, and now rejects God’s Son.

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