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The Dissatisfaction of Scoffers

October 7, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Scoffers Verse: Luke 7:31–7:35

“The Dissatisfaction of Scoffers[2]

Luke 7:31-35

Theme: Rejecting the Gospel results in disillusionment and despair.


I. Scoffers Are Aggravated in Their Expectations of God – 7:31-32

A. The Assessment of “This Generation” – v. 31

  • As Jesus finishes His comments to the crowd in the previous section, Luke describes how the people were acknowledging “God’s justice” through the ministry of John.
  • Yet, the religious leadership who negatively influenced the general population of Israel, “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” and refused to repent.
  • Both “the people” and the “Pharisees and lawyers” would end up completely rejecting both John and Jesus.
  • Knowing their hearts, Jesus knows they were filled with unbelief and declares so by stating: “To what shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?”
  • Jesus was asking: “How can I best illustrate the responses of “this generation” to God’s truth concerning the Messiah and His kingdom?”
  • The term “this generation” [γενεά] is used throughout the Gospel to refer to those contemporary persons among the Jews whose collective sentiment rejected the Messiah – cp. Matthew 11:16; 12:41-42; 23:36.
  • “With only one exception (Matthew 24:34), the expression describes the generation that rejected the Messiah.”[3]
  • Thus, Jesus is describing the Jews as collectively rejecting Him and the Kingdom that He had offered to them.

B. The Attitude of Arrogant Expectation – v. 32

  • The illustration that Jesus concluded best describes “this generation” was that “They are like children who sit in the market places …” – a comparison to foolish children who criticize other children for not being willing to play their games.  
  • Essentially, Jesus likens them to children to after attempting to get children to play with them, sit down and criticize those who would not cooperate – “… who call to one other, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’”
  • There were two popular games that children often played in the “market places” when the vendors were not present – “Wedding” and “Funeral” – imitating events that had made the greatest impression on them as they witnessed the passions of their parents during these events.
  • Essentially, Jesus declares through this analogy that “this generation” was dissatisfied with the John and Jesus because neither of these men would “play the game” that the Jews desired to spiritually or religiously play.
  • They were not interested in changing and responding to the call to repentance by John in light of sin; or a call to faith by Jesus in light of forgiveness; they were only interested in a Messiah that would make things better for them.
  • Whereas John had been disillusioned by Jesus’ failure to perform in the manner he had expected and approached Jesus submissively for clarification, the Jews became hopelessly critical and arrogant toward Jesus.
  • John, and then Jesus, both failed to perform in a manner satisfactory to the Jews, and the result was arrogant rejection of the Messiah and His Kingdom.
  1. John was mournful and wouldn’t dance when they wanted to downplay the severity of their sin;
  2. Jesus was joyful and wouldn’t mourn at the presence of sinners as did the self-righteous, horrified, grief-stricken hypocrites.
  • What are the “flutes” we play for God – expecting that He comply with our expectations or agendas? Have you ever been frustrated or even disappointed in God’s “failure” to cooperation with your expectation?


  • How have the attitudes, values, and “conventional wisdom” of our culture affected your own perspectives on Christ? Have they diluted and weakened, or purified and strengthened your affection for Christ?
  • Have you been able to sense tension in your own faith between your expectations of God and God’s conduct? How have you managed?

 II. Scoffers Are Antagonistic toward the Expectations of the Gospel – 7:33-34

A. The Antagonism toward Despair in Judgment – v. 33

  • For John, the Jews had wanted to celebrate that the Messiah was coming – and so they “played the flute for [him] …” and expected John to “dance.”
  • But John’s message was not one of exuberance, jubilation, or partying – but one who called out for acknowledgement of sin and the need of repentance.
  • From John’s perspective, this was a time for mourning and repentance – “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine …”
  • Such a glum attitude was considered undesirable and even unspiritual – evidence of spiritual defeat.
  • Since John refused to “dance” to their music and party because the Messiah was coming.
  • They arrogantly rejected the “severity” or “moroseness” of his ministry – “… and you say, ‘He has a demon!’”
  • They refused to face the despair that their sin ought to have produced and became antagonistic to the prospect of judgment and therefore rejected John – cp. Matthew 5:4; Luke 6:21.
  • Sin ought to produce a “broken spirit and contrite heart” – causing us to grieve over how we have been a grief to the heart of God.
  • John called on sinners to grieve, mourn, weep, and know the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance – 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.

B. The Antagonism toward Delight in Justification – v. 34

  • It was no better in their response to Jesus – “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking …”
  • The popular expectation of the Messiah was that He would come with vengeance and wrath – not a “friend of sinners” for the purpose of helping sinners.
  • His failure to be filled with indignation at sinners (those who failed to measure up to their externalisms and traditions), caused them to arrogantly declare that whereas “they sang a dirge” in the expectation of the death of their enemies, Jesus failed to “play their game.”
  • Rather, Jesus rejoiced that salvation was being made available to those who would believe on Him and reached out to those who were in bondage.
  • Jesus was delighting in the justification that He would provide for sinners and sought to befriend them in order to save them.
  • They refused to believe that Jesus could forgive sinners and therefore indicted Him – “… and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
  • Obviously John was not demon possessed, neither was Jesus ever guilty of gluttony or drunkenness – clearly limiting what He ate to the restrictions of the Law and avoiding wine that would intoxicate Him.
  • Jesus, as was common among the general population in Israel would drink “wine” that were “made by boiling or evaporating fresh grape juice down to a heavy syrup or paste in order to prevent spoilage and simplify storage. … The mixture was nonalcoholic, and even when allowed to ferment it was not intoxicating, because it was mostly water.”[4]
  • Clearly their intention was to smear and besmirch these godly men through false accusations because of their unbelief and rebellion against the righteousness that was bringing such confrontation to their sinfulness.
  • We take away from this that without first knowing the sorrow for sin that causes us to repent, we cannot know the joy and rejoicing in salvation – repentance is an essential to a relationship with God.
  • People want to joy, without the confrontation of their sin – and then wonder why it “doesn’t work out,” and their faith is empty.


  • Meditate on how the “knowledge of sin” and the severity of conviction is a clear act of mercy on God’s part? What are your thoughts on this?
  • How do you respond to a person who is convicted by the Holy Spirit, confesses their sin, repents, and knows the grace of God in forgiveness and then they continue to mourn? (should forgiveness of sin produce rejoicing?)
  • Why is it so common to be horrified at others’ sins and but not equally thrilled by their repentance?

III. Scoffers Are Exposed by their Estrangement from God  – 7:35

A. The Delightful Result of Wisdom

  • Jesus conclusion to the matter is “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
  • The “wisdom” that is being asserted by “this generation” in rejecting the ministries of both John and Jesus must be compared to the “wisdom” of those who turned to Jesus as the Messiah.
  • We are told that the wisdom of the world (those who reject Jesus) is not capable of coming to know God – cp. 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
  • However, the “wisdom” that is from God produces peace and results in righteousness – cp. James 3:17-18
  • The “wisdom” espoused by John & Jesus produced righteous “children” or fruit that resulted in repentance, forgiveness, & redemption.
  • This is the reason that Jesus was able to conduct Himself in joy “eating and drinking.”

B. The Despairing Result of Wickedness

  • However, the rejection of Jesus because one clings to one’s own perspective will always “bear the same child.”
  • For all who conclude that Jesus does not fit their expectation of what a Messiah ought to be will know condemnation.
  • The wisdom of the Gospel is for those who reject it foolishness – and this is the reason that John refused to dance – cp. 1 Corinthians 1:18.


  • What are the two marks of genuine, saving faith that are taught in this passage? In what ways do you relate?
  • When a person rejects the Gospel, why do they become arrogant against the Gospel – what causes this? 

[2] This message is based off the parallel account in Matthew 11

[3] John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Matthew, p. 205.

[4] MacArthur, pp. 261-262.

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