“‘But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a song of mourning, and you did not mourn.’” – Matthew 11:16-17.
Jesus has compared the generation of Israelites in His day to children sitting in the marketplace wanting to play games with each other. He describes them as calling to their playmates and complaining that the others did not dance when they played the flute or mourn when they sang a dirge. Those specific games might seem odd to modern readers. Apparently, though, it was common in this era for children to play “wedding” and “funeral,” acting out the activities of those events.
While playing “wedding,” a child might pretend to play the flute while others danced as if at a feast. If they were creating a “funeral,” someone would perform a sad song while the others “mourned.” Mourning then went far beyond silent grieving to loud wailing and “beating the breast,” which is what the word for “mourn” means.
How is this like the generation of that day? Jesus shows in the following verses that the people of the time, maybe especially those in power, complained about both John the Baptist and Jesus for not “playing” as a prophet and a Messiah should, according to popular expectations. Those expectations, of course, are wildly inconsistent. The point is that no matter what they see, some people will demand the opposite, simply out of hard-headed resistance to God.
So…in reading this, I can’t help but compare this to our current generation and time. Are we taking this seriously or are we just reading and playing the parts? Do we do what’s the most popular so that we can be accepted by the world, our friends, our family?
Read deep into this…take a good look at your own life in the midst of these verses….
We all need some work.