The call of the Kingdom (Matt 11:16-19)
Verse 11 Many of Jesus’ parables start with something like. What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Jesus was always trying to find a way to help the people understand what the Kingdom of God is like.
- Here he tries to explain the people rather than explain the kingdom.
- He is explaining the people in hopes they will see in themselves why they don’t get the Kingdom.
- They are like children sitting in the Marketplace and calling out to others.
- The scene is a common one. Children would often play in the isles of the market while their parents shopped.
- But the way Jesus paints this picture here, it seems that the children are in disunity.
- “Calling out to others” is to the other children.
- So, the children are calling out among themselves.
- Each has in own idea of what they should do or play.
- So, Jesus is saying of His generation that there is no unity. Each has their own idea of what the Kingdom is.
Verse 17 Jesus seems to be quoting a song or a scripture here, but it is unclear what he is quoting.
- History tells us that the children would often play games mimicking weddings and funerals.
- The flute or pipe was also a common instrument played at weddings.
- Dance was also very common at Jewish weddings.
- It would have been rude and an insult to the family and bride and groom to not dance.
- Jesus’s point here, is that they have heard the news of the Kingdom, which is far greater than any wedding, and they have not celebrated and danced, they have not responded in some way.
- Jesus has announced the news of the Kingdom and yet the people sit on their hands, like not dancing at a wedding.
- Again, this is a rebuke by Jesus to the people for not celebrating the Good News of the Kingdom.
- Then the verse goes on to say “we sang a dirge.”
- Of course, a dirge was a song sang at a funeral. Often by paid musicians
- When the people attending the funeral heard the song of dirge begin, they knew that meant the funeral was beginning. Jesus is again accusing them of not responding to the Kingdom.
Verse 18 There is a big shift here in the form of the writing. Jesus now directs his rebukes towards the leaders of the day, because they didn’t understand the kingdom, accused john of having a demon.
Verse 19 Neither the accusations against John or Jesus are accurate, because neither assumes the right view of the Kingdom.
- The verse ends with, “But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
- In Judaism wisdom is often personified as a woman
- the end of this verse 19 could have a very literal translations of “and wisdom was justified of her children.
- Wisdom’s children then are those who follow her guidance. The children of wisdom here that Jesus refers to are the tax collectors and sinners who responded to Jesus and John’s message of the Kingdom.