The parable of the children in the marketplace
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge
and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.””
Matthew 11:16-18 (Luke 7:31-32)
* "To what can I compare this generation?" This question (as pointed out by Matthew Henry in Henry commentary) seems to show Jesus finding it difficult to find an example that fits, which is another way of pointing out the extreme absurdity of the situation.
* In both Matthew and Luke this little parable is found wedged between Jesus talking about John the Baptist and him expressing frustration at the Pharisees fault-finding paradigm and impossible-to-pleasyness.
* This is really tough to understand.
* Jesus' use of the word "generation" seems to be referring to the people within that time period thirty years, particularly the Pharisees (see context in Luke chapter seven verse thirty).
* The parable has a harsh tone... Pharisees would have been insulted to have been compared to children. Jesus is frustrated and actually downright ticked.
* The thing that the children in the parable are chanting is relating to two very diffrent things- dancing and mourning. Jesus was saying that the Pharisees were behaving childishly and would not be pleased not matter what approach John or Jesus took.
* Jesus gives a little bit of an explanation of the parable in verses 18-19. He tells us that "...we sang a dirge and you did not mourn..." refers to Johns harsher style of turn of burn repentence preaching and that "...we played the flute for you and you did not dance..." refers to Jesus' hopeful, celebratory message (eating and drinking and healing... not to mention salvation).
* Critical people always have something to criticize. Some people wouldn’t be pleased with either John or Jesus, and Jesus found this to be frustrating.
This parable is a bit of a tough one for me so I am keen to read other peoples comments and hear what you have to add to it. It is one of those verses where I have often read the passage of Scripture and skipped over it because it was too hard.
At the end of the preceding passage about John the Baptist, Jesus seems to vent a frustration at the way that the Pharisees responded to Himself and John the Baptist. He particularly makes mention in the Luke telling of this parable by observing "All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John."
that is verses 29-30.
The hard-heartedness of religious people frustrated the crap out of Jesus and He often spoke about it. In this parable He kind of says that no matter what form that Heaven delivers the message (whether hard or soft) some people will not submit to God. It seems that today religious people still are hard to please. Christ is using a parable to illustrate the way that some people would rather ignore God's messengers than change the way they live.
We have to be careful to allow ourselves to be open to what God wants to say ("positive" or "negative"). He speaks through His Word, His people and His Spirit to our hearts. We need to avoid being like those the parable calls childish by being open to recieve Gods message of justice and repentance, and His message of love, grace and mercy.
God help me to hear your voice clearly, and to not assume we know all about You. Let us lay our assumptions aside and invade our personal paradigms and preconcieved ideas. Help us to be fertile soil that celebrates when the occasion calls for it and mourns when the occasion calls for it. Soften our hard hearts and help us to hate our own sinfulness. Help us to be in amongst the humble You give grace to, and not the proud that You resist.