Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he is immutable, unchanging in his character, his will and his promises. Praise God that he cannot and will not change in respect to his mercy, grace, goodness, and love toward us. Praise God that we can know where we stand with him and trust him without reservation or hesitation. Malachi 6:1, Hebrews 6:17,18.
Confess the sin of not failing to grasp God's immutability and the wonderful implications of that truth for your life. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you to see that God's love for you is undeniable and unchanging. Pray and ask God to help you to rest and find peace in him, in an ever-changing world.
Let's read Luke 7:31-35 – We don't need to play to the world's tunes.
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
Before we get into this passage, I want to pick up, as I said I would yesterday, the statement of Jesus in verse 28.
Jesus, with a measure of authority – "I tell you..." reminds his hearers that, in his eyes, there is no one greater than John. But then he compares John to the least in the Kingdom of heaven and says John is not as great as that person. What is Jesus getting at? To answer that, we first need to understand that this is not a comment on John's character but on his 'time' of existing. Although introducing the New Testament era, John, in essence, is an Old Testament character. Although he points to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, John is a prophet from before Christ. And Jesus's coming has changed the world order. That which was before him was different from that which is after him. His coming was a global watershed for time and eternity. That may seem an exaggerated way of expressing it, but it's not. With Jesus came the Kingdom of God. That changed the world. John belonged to the time of promise. Jesus brought the time of fulfilment. (His return will bring in the era of consummation.) So, the 'least' in the time of fulfilment is greater than the 'greatest' in the time of promise, not because of their personal qualities, but because of the time of the existence, and the privileges they are therefore exposed to. Jesus is building to his point, which is, you had the tremendous privilege of hearing John preach, but what did you do with those privileges?
V31-34. Children playing – but what does it mean?
Jesus is still asking questions. This time he asks the same question twice, one straight after the other. Does he pause to give them time to think? It doesn't say, but you can picture him doing so. Again, we see him answering his own question, this time using a scene from their everyday lives. It may have been something that he had seen that day or something that is going on nearby as he is speaking. He paints a picture of children playing in the market-place. The market-place was the perfect place to play when the market wasn't on, providing ample space, unlike the narrow streets filled with bazaars. I am looking forward to the day when we will see the young children running around the church property again.
Jesus quotes a little couplet. It's one which children would sing when their friends wouldn't join in whatever game or activity was being played. First, they played at 'weddings', blowing little whistles they had, or just whistling with their lips – they were 'playing flutes'. Everyone was expected to join in the wedding procession as it meandered its way across the market-place. But some wouldn't, so those leading changed the mood and started wailing as though it was a funeral. But again, there were the children who wouldn't get involved. They stood and watched. So, the whistling and the wailing were to no avail. Nothing would draw out the desired dancing and the weeping from those who weren't willing to play.
What is Jesus' point? Well, the 'For' of verse 33 introduces the reason why this little scene describes the generation that Jesus is speaking to so aptly. The issue is not, as some think, that as John played his 'tune' in the wilderness, the people wouldn't play along, so he changed his tune to try and engage them, but again to no avail. That cannot be the case because, as considered yesterday, John was not a vacillator, flip-flopping back and forth to meet the whims of the people. He had a message, a straightforward, clear message – 'repent and believe'. The idea he flipped to – 'feel God's love and blessing for you because you are such an amazing person', is untenable because it's unbiblical. Nor is it the case, as others suggest, that John led the wedding march, and then Jesus seeing that it wasn't working came along with the funeral dirge. That characterization, or the flipping of it so that John did the wailing and Jesus played the cheerful wedding march, obviously doesn't work given the fact that they both preached the same message. So, what is Jesus saying? The critical point to understand is this; the leaders of the game are not John and Jesus; they are the people.
When God sent John the Baptist into their midst, a prophet like of old, everyone was happy, God had spoken again, and the people wanted to join in the game. The problem was that John would not join in and play the way they wanted him to. His lifestyle and message didn't fit. His eating of no bread and his drinking of no wine were not only a mark of his ascetic lifestyle; they were a comment against the lifestyle of the generation. That grated on people, and they wanted him to change. They wanted him to join the wedding party, let his hair down, and tell them a positive story of God's love for them as amazingly religious people. When he refused, they didn't like it and walked away, muttering under their breath that he was demon-possessed. Then Jesus came, and the Pharisees rose to the fore and began insisting on his adherence to the strict interpretation of their rabbinical laws. But when Jesus refused to dance to their mournful tune, and fraternized with the social class that dare not be mentioned, when he refused to play along with their funeral procession and behaved as though he was at a wedding party, well, that was unacceptable. They weren't going to have it. Unable to discern the difference between the messenger of repentance and the Messiah, the people took to accusing, and abused Jesus as well. And what abuse they gave him. Look at what they called him, and Jesus is quoting things here that were actually said about him. A glutton, a drunkard, a friend of the most disreputable people in our community. Imagine if you were being characterized in this way because you were spending time with family and friends who are not believers. Feel the burden of what it must have been like for the Lord to be maligned, always under verbal attack, misrepresented, scorned, insulted, having his character assassinated. Jesus lived a hard life, hard in the sense of never getting any respite from this, in his face, vicious cruelty of men.
V35. Wisdom – who owns it?
Who is Jesus speaking of here? Who are the children of wisdom, who by doing works of wisdom, are justifying wisdom? Jesus is speaking of John and himself and all who follow them. The demands of the current generation, first for John to dance to their marriage tune, and then for Jesus to wail their funeral dirge, shows clearly their ignorance of who John and Jesus are. This ignorance leads to their pointless attempts to get John and Jesus to play their game. The bottom line is this – Jesus didn't play to the tune of his generation, and he won't play to the tune of any generation. He is King above all, and he is working to bring all things under his feet for the sake of his Bride, using the means he has established. As he does so, he will neither be diverted nor prevented from pursuing his course, no matter what tune the world plays to try and get him to perform at it wants. Satan tried with his temptations in the wilderness, and he failed. The kingdoms of men are constantly plotting against the Lord and his anointed. Their goal is to burst free of Christ's Mediatorial rule, but it is pointless, for he sits in the heavens and laughs and holds them in derision. The only game in town for them is "Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry," and this game can only end in one way if they refuse to do so - they will perish. Psalm 2.
Be happy to stand with Christ on the sidelines and watch as the world plays whatever tune it likes, flip-flopping back and forth. The generation before them did it; this generation is doing it and the next generation will do it. But as we do so, let us also be active among them, bringing the Good News of the gospel to them, just as Jesus did; so that those who have been chosen will be saved from the futile ways handed down to them by their forefathers.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 84B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ,"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 49 - Which is the second commandment?
Answer - The second commandment is: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
Thank God that he does not flip and flop about in his dealings with us, but is faithfully constant and consistent in the fulfilment of his covenant promises.
Thank God that he loves us, his adopted children, and no matter what people say of us, no matter how much they ridicule and malign us, we have, by his grace, the light of his truth in our hearts.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley