29(And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God,* because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. 30But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
31 ‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.”
33For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; 34the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” 35Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’
When John’s disciples had left, Jesus had turned to the people – the crowd – and spoke to them, first about John. We saw yesterday that Jesus said John was the greatest of prophets, the one who prepared the way before the Lord. But then he had gone on to say that in the Kingdom of Heaven, John would be least. Verses 29 – 30 follow, and in the NRSV are enclosed in parentheses. The people who heard Jesus, it says, agreed – you might say the “Amen’s” could be heard – at least those who had been baptized by John agreed, even tax collectors. But the Pharisees and the lawyers had refused John’s baptism, and thus had refused God’s purpose in their lives.
Jesus goes on to say that the people of “this generation” – referring to those who are before him, and especially to those Pharisees and lawyers – is like children, spoiled children, playing in the market place. No game is good enough for them, nothing pleases them. They refuse to dance, and they refuse to mourn; they refuse to play wedding and they refuse to play funeral. Where is the comparison? Jesus goes on: John came fasting, eating no bread and drinking no wine. They accused him of being mad, of having a demon! Jesus, the Son of Man (a reference to the Messiah from Daniel), comes eating and drinking, and befriending tax collectors, and they call him a glutton and a drunkard. In short, like spoiled children, there is no pleasing them!
Sometimes, there are people we simply cannot please. We do God’s work anyway, regardless of how “this generation” responds. We trust in God to bring about his kingdom.