16“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
The generation of Jesus was not happy with either John or Jesus (11:16-19). Jesus came to offer the kingdom but this generation was indifferent to John’s and His message.
Jesus asked for positive volition in the previous verse, but in stark contrast the crowd went negative in volition.
to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,
Jesus compared His generation to peevish children playing in the public square not pleased with anything. These children obstinately declined to play in each other’s games.
and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’
This is a picture of children rejecting the overtures of their friends to play wedding (happy game) or funeral (sad game). Israel was like stubborn children, for they rejected both the message of John and of Jesus. These people were born inside out. They opposed every positive suggestion and believed every negative suggestion. They would not play marriage and they would not play funeral.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
John the Baptist did not come to make a party, for he was ascetic, yet they dismissed his message as demonic, as mad.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Jesus came eating with discredited tax collectors and sinners in a non-conventional manner. He disregarded conventional social sensitivities. He did not live a desolate life like John. In other words, Jesus’ generation rejected John for one thing and Jesus for another. They found a ground of criticism in either case.
It was a fabrication that Jesus was a “glutton” or “winebibber.” Jesus never ate or drank to excess. He befriended sinners without approving their sin.
But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Jesus’ works vindicated His wisdom. Although most rejected Him as Messiah, miracles confirmed His authenticity.
Refusal to be persuaded at evidence is the foundation of negative volition towards God.
Stubborn refusal to be persuaded at evidence is at the heart of negative volition towards God. Jesus justified His authenticity by His miracles. People who do not want to embrace evidence for truth will find any convenient reason not to do so. They will do it from opposite reasons. They are like children in this regard. They measure truth by their own prejudices.
This is very much like the pluralism of our day: “Everybody has their viewpoint but no one has the truth.” As in Jesus’ day, our age is a generation of unbelief. Jesus believed that we can come to truth:
“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Jn 5:31-33