In the Fulness of Time/Part 73
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|Dr. Figart explains that in this passage, Matthew 11:16-19, Jesus gives two illustrations to show that the Jews were not satisfied with John nor Jesus.|
The Jews did not recognize Christ’s Messiahship. Matthew 11:16-19
The Illustration: Dissatisfied Children. Matthew 11:16-17
- Mt. 1:16-17 “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the market places, and calling to their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you and ye have not lamented.”
Christ gave two illustrations to show that the Jews were not satisfied with John nor Jesus. He used the term “generation” (genea) in several ways in Matthew. At times the emphasis was on the character of the people rather than the time element, though both may be there. In 12:39 “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” refers to the character of the Jews and to that particular time of Jesus’ ministry; in 17:17, “O faithless and perverse generation” is limited to His own disciples’ inability to cast out a demon; in 24:34 “This generation shall not pas till all these things be fulfilled” involves a future generation with emphasis on the time sequence.
Here in 11:16 the application is to the dissatisfied, critical attitude of the Jewish nation regarding the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. The Jews are likened to children arguing about which game to play. Children are great mimics and their games reflect the social activities of their day. The game organizers suggest that they play wedding, where there was much joyful music, dancing and a seven-day feast, such as the one attended by Jesus and His disciples, at which Jesus turned water into wine (John 2). So the children in the market place, apparently waiting while their parents were shopping, decided to play together. The suggestion of wedding was unacceptable to their companions, so they suggested funeral, with the mimicking of the paid mourners (as in Jeremiah 9:17-21, “Call for the mourning women… For death is come up into our windows“); but the group of children were unwilling to accept either game.
The Application: A Dissatisfied Nation. Matthew 11:18-19
- Mt. 11:18-19 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is justified by her children.”
In personality, practice and preaching, John the Baptist paralleled the game of funeral. He was not the type to socialize, but kept to himself, and the people went into the wilderness to see him. He preached repentance and good works befitting repentance, and that the Messiah would baptize, not only with the Holy Spirit, but with fire! To the contrary, Jesus socialized at feasts and weddings and kept company with all classes of people, personifying in Himself the game of wedding. John’s behavior was tolerated for a while (John 5:35) but eventually the officials sensed danger in his preaching and accused him of being demonized. Finally, Herod had John imprisoned. On the other hand, Jesus was gaining influence by His miracles and ministry, and this displeased the strict Pharisees with their self-imposed ultra-legalism. The very things they desired in John they denounced in Jesus. As one has put it, the Jews would neither repent with John nor rejoice with Christ! It was impossible to please the nation!
The final sentence in 11:19 has been variously understood because some Greek texts have wisdom’s ergon “works” in Matthew’s account and retain wisdom’s teknon, “children” in Luke 7:35. However, the Textus Receptus uses teknon, “children” in both passages. Whichever reading is preferred, it is clear that in both Gospels God’s wisdom is the subject and Jesus and John are performing God’s works, manifesting that wisdom in diverse lifestyles. In both cases, God’s wisdom is justified, as it will always be, “in the fulness of time.”