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Summary: Christians must be aware of becoming hypercritical of divine work and of other believers, ascribing what is done as unworthy of Christ. To explore this situation, the message is a study of Jesus' censure of the generation in which He then lived.

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds” [MATTHEW 11:11-19]. [1]

You just can’t please some people! There are implacable people in our world. One example of people who refused to be appeased is provided in a response the Master gave to those about Him on one occasion. Jesus had just received a delegation sent by the Baptist. John was depressed, and he had good reason to be depressed. He was in prison, and he needed assurance so he could assuage his doubts.

I caution you not to think ill of John for asking whether he was on the right track. Each of us has struggled through periods when we were floundering through the slough of despair. It is not wrong to be despondent, to raise questions about your walk with God or about your service before Him. God is too big to be dethroned by our questions. The real sin is not that we have doubts; the real sin is that we think we can handle our doubts without openness about our fears, without transparency.

Jesus answered the question raised by the delegation by doing what He always did—giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk, cleansing lepers, restoring the ability to hear to the deaf, raising the dead and preaching the Good News to the poor. I learn from this that when we are challenged about our service before the Lord, we should keep on doing what God assigned us to do. We owe no explanation to the world or even to disgruntled church members.

When the delegation from the Baptist had left, Jesus turned His attention to the crowds that were always pressing about Him. He challenged them to think about what they were seeking when they went out to hear John. Then, Jesus praised John with a rich commendation. “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” [MATTHEW 11:11-15].

The Master became positively pointed with those listening to Him at that time when He said, “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds” [MATTHEW 11:16-19]. There could be no misunderstanding the fact that He was confronting those listening.

Overhearing the exchange between Jesus and the Baptist’s delegation, the crowds had heard once again Jesus’ affirmation of John’s ministry just as they heard again of Jesus’ purpose. Jesus thought highly of John, commending him for his ministry. In our text, Jesus offers high praise for John when He says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” [MATTHEW 11:11]. That is high praise, indeed.

However, like children infected with constantly changing attention spans, the people of Judea living at that time managed to dismiss both John, as the Forerunner, and Jesus, as the Anointed One of God. In the presence of majestic glory, they settle for the mundane, for the pedestrian. Jesus said that the ministries they had observed left them acting as children might act. Their response to what they witnessed was too silly for a funeral, and too serious for a party. The people were deeply flawed, not unlike people in this day when they witness the goodness and mercy of God.

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