18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” 21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’[b] 28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (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. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) 31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
A podcast from Bible teacher Tim Keller helped me with understanding this passage that I’d read many times but found a little hard to figure out.
Jesus compares His generation to an analogy of His time, and though the analogy is potentially hard for us to understand now, the principal certainly still applies to our current generation.
Jesus is basically saying that we are like children who are not willing to follow God’s leading. The problem is not that the song is too happy and we don’t feel like dancing (“we played the pipe and you did not dance”) or that the song is sad but we don’t feel like crying (‘we sang a dirge and you did not cry”). This is not the real issue. The problem is that we don’t like to give up control. The problem is that we want to do things our own way, not God’s way.
Letting go is an ongoing struggle, but the more I recognise and acknowledge my stubborn desire for control, the freer I have become.
“Wisdom is proved right by all her children”. May I be one of those children – His way, not my way.
Written by Shelley Witt