Matthew 11:11-19 “Forceful Men Get the Kingdom”
Translation & Sermon by
Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 08 Apr 2012
11:09 “Well then, what did y’all go
out to see? A prophet?
Yes! I tell you, he is even more
than a prophet,
11:10 for this is the
man concerning whom it has been written,
myself am commissioning my messenger, just before your presence,
prepare your way in front of you.’
I tell y’all, there has not been raised up
those who have been given birth by women
greater than John the Baptizer,
the littlest in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.
11:12 “And from the days of John
the Baptizer until now, the kingdom of the heavens is forcing itself, and
forceful men are seizing it.
11:13 For all the
prophets and the law prophesied up until John.
11:14 And if y’all are
willing to accept [this], he is Elijah, the one who was about to come.
11:15 He who has ears to hear had
better be listening!
11:16 “But, to whom am I going to
compare this generation?
It is similar to
children sitting at the malls, calling to the others of them saying,
11:17 ‘We piped for y’all
and you didn’t dance; we mourned and y’all didn’t hit yourselves.’
11:18 For John came neither eating
nor drinking, and they say, ‘He’s got a demon!’
11:19 The Son of Man came eating
and drinking and they say,
‘Look, a man that’s a
glutton and a wino that’s a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’
Yet wisdom is recognized as right
by its outcomes.
It’s about the year 850 BC. Ahab is king of Israel, and
Jehoshaphat is king of Judah to the South. Jehoshaphat and Ahab were at their
annual royal summit meeting in Samaria, outside of Ahab’s palace made of ivory.
Ahab is bothered by the fact that his northern border city of Ramoth-Gilead has
been taken over by the country of Syria, so he suggests to King Jehoshaphat
that they combine their armies and take Ramoth-Gilead back so that it would
belong to Israel again. Jehoshaphat thinks it’s a fine idea, but he says, just
to be sure, let’s pray and ask God it we should do this.
So Ahab gathers 400 religious leaders and asks
them if they think God wants Israel to re-take Ramoth-Gilead. To the man, every
one of them says, “Yes! Go for it! God bless you!”
One of the guys even made a big pair of cow
horns out of iron and showed them to the kings and said that just as a bull
gores anyone who threatens him, so Ahab and Jehoshaphat’s armies will lay waste
to the Syrian army.
Jehoshaphat smells a
rat; he says, “Isn’t there a prophet of Jehovah somewhere we could ask?”
Ahab answers in disgust, “Well, yeah, there’s
that guy Micaiah, but he’s a jerk. He always says bad things about me!”
“Is that so?” Says Jehoshaphat, “Well, let’s
hear what he has to say…”
So, a servant is sent to bring the prophet Micaiah
before the kings, and the servant pleads with Micaiah to be agreeable and not
cause problems. Micaiah only answers, “Whatever the LORD tells me to say,
that’s what I’ll say.”
Now, If you were brought before two kings seated
on their thrones in the gateway of the capitol city with thousands of people
milling around and 400 religious leaders there to see if you would say the same
thing they had said, what would you do? Would you agree with everybody just to
keep the peace? The pressure was intense!
But Micaiah chose to do what God told him rather
than what everybody expected him to do. Micaiah raised his voice and prophesied
that if these kings went to war against Syria, Israel would be defeated and
One of the religious leaders came and punched
Micaiah in the face to teach him a lesson.
“What did I tell you?” says King Ahab. “Lock
that fool Micaiah up in prison and feed him nothing but bread and water until I
get back from whupping up on the Syrians; let’s go!”
But in the end, Micaiah was proved right. King Ahab
was killed in that battle.
Like Micaiah, John the Baptizer was a faithful
representative of God who did what God wanted rather than what the crowd
wanted. We looked last week at the good things Jesus had to say about John.
This week, I want to look at the call Jesus gives to all of us to
stand against the tide of popular opinion and follow Him. In verses 11-19, I
see four important lessons for those of us who come after John in
- Greatness comes from humbly doing what God tells you to
- Passivity disqualifies people from heaven (11:12-15)
- The world will misunderstand and criticize faithful
- If we hold fast to God’s wisdom, it will eventually
become obvious that we did the right thing. (11:19b)
1. Greatness comes from humbly doing what God tells you to do (11:11)
Mat 11:11 Truly,
I tell y’all, there has not been raised up among those who have been given
birth by women one greater than John the Baptizer, yet the littlest in the
kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.
- In v.11, Jesus gives John the acclaim that no one in
history born before John is any greater than him. John was as great as any
of the greatest figures in history since the beginning of time. What made
John so great?
- Basically, John did what God
told him to do rather than what people wanted him to do.
- John had done well in getting many, many people to repent
of their sin,
- and John had faithfully and accurately announced the
Messiah to these people,
- and then John had faded into the background in order that
people would pay more attention to Jesus than to him.
- He did his job as a prophet very well without any
failure. Nobody in history before him was greater in character or more
successful in accomplishing the life purpose given to them by God.
- Greatness, in Jesus’ eyes, comes from humbly doing what
God wanted you to do.
- Now Jesus says that the “smallest in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than [John]!”
- Many Bible scholars believe that “the smallest” here is
referring to the disciples – perhaps to the least-well-known of them –
like maybe Thaddeus.
- The reasoning is that the Apostles became greater in privilege
than John the Baptizer because they got to preach the fullness of the
- This was then a set-up by Jesus to get the crowds to
listen to the disciples’ preaching once He was gone.
- This did not make them necessarily greater in character
than John, for, as Matthew Henry put it, “Even a dwarf on a mountain sees
further than a giant in the valley!”
- However, I am not convinced that Jesus intended to limit
the meaning of this to the lesser-known disciples. I think that “the
smallest in the kingdom of heaven” can include any of us who don’t feel
very important in the grand scheme of things.
- In Jesus’ eyes, even if you are one of the littlest
children, you are great in God’s eyes if you and humbly obey God and
don’t get distracted.
That’s the first lesson I see we can learn from Jesus’
discourse about John: Greatness comes from doing what God tells you to do. The
second is a little more challenging:
2. Passiveness disqualifies people from heaven (11:12-15)
Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptizer until
now, the kingdom of the heavens is forcing itself, and forceful men are seizing
ἕως ἄρτι ἡ
- One of the first things we have to grapple with in this
verse is whether to interpret the first verb as Passive or Middle voice.
- In the Greek present tense, there is no difference in
spelling between the middle or passive voice, so translators must judge
from context, and thus may disagree.
- The King James versions, the
ESV, and the NASB all go with a Passive interpretation, “the
kingdom of heaven suffers violence.”
- On the other hand, the NIV has it in the Middle voice
where the subject acts for itself, in this case, “the kingdom of heaven
is forcefully advancing [itself].”
- Quite a range of commentators from John Calvin (in the mid-16th
century) to William Hendricksen (in the late 20th Century)
also translated it with the middle voice.
- As I survey the use of this word throughout the Septuagint, the context usually
demands a middle voice translation, so it would not be out-of-line with
the way this word is used in the rest of scripture to render it here in
the middle voice, so I translated it, “the kingdom… is forcing itself
- But what does this mean?
- Matthew Henry explained that the kingdom of heaven “suffers
violence” (passively) in that the kingdom of heaven was decimated by the
revolution Jesus inaugurated, because many Jews formerly in covenant relationship
with God were thrown out of their position in God’s kingdom because they
did not trust in Jesus to be their salvation from sin.
- Furthermore, the last phrase in this verse seems to
support the idea that the kingdom of heaven passively suffers the
violence of certain people who take it by force.
- Jesus had said earlier that we should
“strive to enter the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24). This is explained
by the forcefulness of the crowds of Jews who desperately wanted to
enter the Messianic age and have Jesus be their king to overthrow the
Roman government and give them free food. These are good and true
- On the other hand, if we take this verb in the middle
voice, “the kingdom forces itself on people,” John Calvin explains that
the Gospel came rather suddenly and forcefully on the scene of history
with John’s preaching and Jesus’ baptism and miracles, and it caused
quite a stir in Israel.
- Those who follow Calvin’s emphasis on the sovereignty of
God in salvation can readily note that it is God who acts on people who
are dead in sin and makes them alive in Christ, forcibly advancing His
kingdom into the hearts of more and more people.
- God told Abraham that all the families of the earth
would be touched with His blessing. (Gen. 12:3).
- Habbakuk the prophet (2:14) said that “the earth will
be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters
cover the sea.”
- Isaiah (9:7) said that there will be no end to the
increase of His kingdom and His peace.
- If that’s not a kingdom that is self-advancing; I’ll eat
- The point, however, is in the second verb,
“violent/forcefulNIV/vigorousHend men are seizing
it [or, taking it by force].
- Spiritual apathy was a problem then and it still is
- “[A]lthough very many
slumber… the intention of Christ’s statement is that they are inexcusable
who contemptuously shut their eyes to the revealed power of God” (M.Henry),
- or as modern commentator William Hendriksen put it, “One
cannot sleep his way into the kingdom!”
- Jesus in effect says, “The kingdom of heaven is outside
of your control, but if you want a piece of it, you’d better get on your
toes and go after it!”
- By the way, Jesus is not saying that
“violent/forceful men” as in “bad guys” will go to heaven and good guys
won’t; He’s saying that those who have the same quality that the
kingdom of heaven has are the ones who will get into heaven. God
is not lazy in advancing His kingdom, and the ones who get into His
kingdom will not be characterized by laziness either, but rather by
- Passiveness can disqualify
you from heaven. Don’t put off dealing with spiritual issues in your
life until some time in the distant future. Grab the bull by the horns
- “Whoever has been born out of God is conquering the
world, and this is the victory which has conquered the world: our faith.
And who is the one who is conquering the world if not the one who
believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4-5 NAW)
Mat 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied
up until John. 14 And if y’all are willing to accept [this], he is Elijah, the
one who was about to come. 15 He who has ears to hear had better be listening!
- Jesus looks back
down the timeline of history and sees history as a procession of Moms who
gave birth to prophets who communicated God’s word to people and pointed
to Christ: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Eli, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos,
Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zachariah, Haggai, and Malachi,
who had prophecied at the end of his book that Elijah would come after
him, and now John the Baptizer who came a little over 400 years after
Malachi, and whom Jesus said was the prophet that Malachi was predicting
and calling Elijah.
- The name Elijah in Hebrew means “The
Lord is my God.”
- Each one of these prophets delivered messages from God to
mankind and recorded it for posterity.
- Each one had to work hard to get the attention of their
people and encourage them to obey God’s word.
- And everyone who ignored those prophets did so at their
- Those who ignored Noah were destroyed in a flood. (Gen.
7, 2 Pet 2:5)
- Those who ignored Abraham died in a
hail of fire and brimstone or were unable to have children. (2 Pet 2:6,
- Those who ignored Elijah suffered
famine or were struck by lightening (2 Ki. 1:10, James 5:17)
- Those who ignored Elisha were mauled
by bears (2 Kings. 2:24).
- Those who ignored Amos and Hosea lost
their country forever.
- Those who ignored Isaiah and Jeremiah
were captured and exiled to a foreign country.
- Those who ignored Malachi were unable
to make enough money to live on; it was like their pockets had holes in
them, and God would not hear their prayers.
- And the implication is that the people living in Jesus’
day who had heard John the Baptizer’s message had better pay attention
to what John said because the consequences would be dire if they didn’t.
- If they didn’t grasp what John said, they would miss
the fact that Jesus was their Messiah, and they would fail to place
their hopes of salvation in Jesus,
- And later on in vs. 23-24, Jesus declares that anyone
who doesn’t pay attention to His message will go to hell – their
judgment will be more uncomfortable than the fire and brimstone which
demolished the town of Sodom.
- “The one who has ears has better hear what the Spirit is
saying to the churches: ‘To the one who overcomes/conquers/wins out, I
will give to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise
of God.’” (Rev. 2:7 NAW)
- That’s why “whoever has ears needs to be listening!”
Being a follower of Jesus
means heeding God’s instructions written down for us by these prophets
rather than listening to the instructions of the world around us; and acting
by faith rather than being disqualified by passiveness. It means cutting a
different path from the world and humbly obeying God. That won’t be
easy, but that’s the kind of forcefulness that will make you great in
the kingdom of heaven. Nevertheless…
3. The world will misunderstand and criticize
faithful Christians (11:16-19a)
Mat 11:16 “But, to whom am I going to compare this
It is similar to children sitting at the malls, calling out to the others.17They are saying, ‘We piped
for y’all and you didn’t dance; we mourned and y’all didn’t hit yourselves.’
καὶ οὐκ ἐκόψασθε.
- There will come a day when Jesus
returns to judge mankind. The Future tense of the first verb in this verse
“liken/compare” seems to point to that time. The question is, on that day
in the future, when Jesus looks back over your life and judges it, what
will He think of you?
- Will he say, “Ah yes, he was like old
Job; he endured and kept trusting me and kept his friends in line with my
truth; man, I’m proud of him.”
- Will he say that you are greater than
the old prophets, or will he say that you were so foolish that you thought
you could tell God what to do?
- Jesus states in v. 16 that as of that point in time, he
thinks His generation is like a group of children at the mall – or the
markets where people shop.
- When I was a kid, I thought of the
mall as the ultimate antithesis of school. The mall was where you went
when you had nothing to do and you wanted to kill time. You didn’t go to the
mall to work or do homework or take classes, it was just the place to
hang out. Of course, you would dress for the occasion – as cool as
possible if you were a boy, or as eye-catchingly as possible if you were
- Back in Jesus’ day, the kids in the
market were also killing time while their parents sold or bought stuff at
the market. They would play games or do whatever they could to entertain
- Do you see that this is not a
flattering statement? Jesus calls them “children” – immature, and He is
speaking disapprovingly of the way they were wasting their hours entertaining
themselves rather than doing something productive. If this trend
continues, then there’s going to be trouble when Jesus returns as judge,
but the good news is that the trend can be changed if we take heed.
- Piping was either done with a flute or with a reed
instrument like bagpipes:
- In 1 Sam. 10:5 it was what Saul’s band of prophets played
when they prophesied.
- It was also used by David’s band to worship the Lord in 2
- Isa. 30:29 indicates that piping was for happy occasions
and not for mourning
(Must ye always rejoice, and go into my holy
places continually, as they that keep a feast? and must ye go with a
pipe, as those that rejoice, into the mountain of the Lord, to the God of
- and the Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees (3:45) mentions
that when people mourned over the desolation of Jerusalem, they stopped
playing their pipes.
- So the kids played some happy music, but the prophets
wouldn’t do a happy dance to fit the music.
- This is the ordinary word for a solo dance
- It is used of Salome’s dance before
King Herod (Matthew 14:6),
- and of David’s dance when he brought
the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:16-21).
- Ecclesiastes 3:4 states that there is
a time to mourn and a time to dance, indicating that dancing is the opposite
- Then the children tried playing a mourning or dirge song:
- It’s the kind of song King David sang when Saul and
Jonathan died (2Sam. 1:17) and later when Abner died (2 Sam. 3:33).
- It’s what the prophet
Jeremiah sang when good king Josiah died (2Ch 35:25), and he later
composed the a whole book of these kind of Lamentations when Jerusalem
- What did it sound like? The prophet Micah (1:8) gives us
a description: “she shall lament and wail… she shall make lamentation as
that of serpents, and mourning as of the daughters of sirens.”
- The anticipated response was
for the hearer to “mournKJV” or “lamentNAS,NIV” by
making chopping motions with his hand, which is the literal meaning of the
Greek word here:
- Isa. 32:12 uses this word to speak of beating the breast
to mourn a great loss,
- and indeed this is what Abraham did
to mourn when Sarah died (Gen. 23:2) -
- and what Joseph did when he buried
his father Jacob (Gen. 50:10), and later,
- David mourned in this way when the
prophet Samuel died (1 Sam. 28:3).
- This is what the people were doing at Jairus’ house to
mourn the death of his daughter before Jesus resurrected her (Luke
- and, although He (Luke 18:13) uses a
different word, I think this kind of motion with the hand is what is
pictured by Jesus in His parable of the two men in the temple when the
repentant tax-collector hit himself on the chest as he cried out, “God
be merciful to me a sinner.”
- This is also the word in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that is set as
the opposite of dancing.
- The idea is that when the prophets wouldn’t dance to the
happy tune, the kids tried a sad song in hopes that the prophets would
act sad. But the prophets were listening to the beat of a different drum
and didn’t take their cues from the crowd.
- The Jews of Jesus’ day had certain expectations about what
a prophet would do, but in their simple foolishness and ignorance of God’s
word, they are perplexed that John the Baptizer and Jesus didn’t fit the
mold. They say, “Look, we told y’all what to do, but you didn’t do it;
what’s up?” Utterly oblivious to the fact that prophets don’t do what
you tell them to do, they do what God tells them to do. Instead
of saying, “Hey guys, be a little more socially acceptable,” they should
have been saying, “Wow, tell me more!”
- People have the same two
responses today. Many people hear preaching or read the Bible and say,
“Hm. That’s quaint. Should’ve said it this way, though.”
- Like the top brass in the Army that told their chaplains
this year (2012), “Keep representing Christianity, but also start
providing marriage ceremonies for homosexuals and don’t use the name of
Jesus in your prayers.
- Or the school that told their teacher in 2006, “Practice
your Christianity all you want, but you may not point out to your
students that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
contain Christian phrases.”
- Or our President a couple of months ago who made a
requirement that all churches provide their employees with insurance
coverage for abortions.
- When Christians disobey their marching orders from the
world, their superiors and employers are going to be like the children in
this verse who were scratching their heads and saying, “Why didn’t you
practice your religion the way we told you to?”
But, thanks be to God, there will always be those who
hear God’s word and say, “Wow, this is great! God communicates; give me more
and I’ll follow!” John the Baptizer was one of these:
Mat 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking,
and they say, “He’s got a demon!”
- For some reason, fasting just never has taken off as a
popular past-time. It wasn’t what the people wanted back in Jesus’ day,
but there John and his disciples were in the desert, fasting regularly,
and when they did eat, it was not fillet mignon and Dom Perignon.
- John’s was not the kind of lifestyle most people wanted to
live, so people made excuses. “He’s probably demon possessed, that’s why
he doesn’t eat right. And then, if he’s demon-possessed, we can ignore
what he says!”
- We humans are capable of convincing ourselves of the most
ridiculous, illogical things when we don’t want to believe or obey something
we don’t like.
- John was not demon-possessed; it was the Holy Spirit of
God who had given him the message he preached, and the people should have
repented of their sin and believed in Jesus like he told them to, but many
people pooh-poohed him instead.
On the other hand…
Mat 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking and
they say, “Look, a man, a glutton and a wino, a friend of tax-collectors and
sinners!” Yet wisdom is justified by its outcomes.
ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ
τῶν τέκνωνC.D,f1,Maj,Lat,Lk7:35/έργωνא,B,W,f13 αὐτῆς.
- The word “man” appears in the Greek text as the first
thing that they say about Jesus.
- The NKJ and NIV drop out this word “man,” perhaps because
their translators assumed that it goes with “glutton,” as the NASB
translated it “a gluttonous man.”
- However, in the Greek text,
the word “man” and the word “glutton” are both nouns in the nominative
case; one is not an adjective describing the other, so I take them as two
separate ideas – kind-of like the ESV (“Look at him! A glutton…”) but I
think there is more significance to the word “man.”
- Jesus says, “The Son of Man came… and they say, ‘Look,
he’s just a man.’”
- But who was the Son of Man? Was He just a man like any
other? No, He is God who became Man. The first thing that people who
aren’t listening to God do is they degrade Jesus to being just a man and
not God and Man. If He is just a man with opinions like any other –
and not God with authoritative opinions, then Jesus can be ignored.
That’s their first mistake.
- Next they call Jesus a “glutton and a
wine-bibber/drunk/wino.” These two labels are
connected with an “and” in Greek, so we’ll take them together.
What’s the deal here?
- Jesus is pointing out that no matter what you do, you
can’t please the critics:
- John apparently didn’t drink wine or eat regular food,
and people criticized him for that;
- then Jesus came along and ate regular food and drank
wine, yet people criticized Him for that also!
- And if you allow your life to be controlled by the Holy
Spirit instead of by what other people expect of you, they’ll criticize
you too – whether you eat or don’t eat. They don’t really care about why
you do what you do, and they don’t really care if their criticism is
hypocritical. All they want is to feel like they can safely ignore the
prophets who are telling them that they are offensive to God and that
they are in danger of God’s judgment.
- As for the actual meaning of the word
translated “glutton,” the word isn’t very specific; it literally only
means that He ate food.
- It could indicate that He was just not
a vegetarian, or
- It could mean that He didn’t do much
- It could mean that He ate too much.
- It isn’t used anywhere else in the
Bible except the parallel passage in Luke, so we don’t have much to go
the word for winebibber/drunkard is used in one other place in the Bible,
and that is Proverbs 23:20,
“Don’t be a wine-drinker and don’t continue long at feasts and at purchases
of meat.” (LXX)
- It may well be that some of the Pharisees who criticized
Jesus back in chapter nine for attending the feast at Matthew’s house
quoted this proverb to bolster their claims that Jesus was disobeying
God’s word because, as they thought, He was wasting too much time buying
and eating food and drinking wine. And, of course, if they could prove
that Jesus exercised poor judgment in His eating habits, they
could discredit Him as having poor judgment in His teaching as
well, and then they could ignore Him.
- Third, Jesus is criticized as being a “friend of
tax-collectors and sinners.”
- Once again, if people could discredit Jesus for having
poor judgment in who He associated with, they felt they could safely
ignore His message.
- Jesus did indeed befriend tax-collectors like Matthew and
Zaccheus, and He befriended women who made their living by committing
adultery for pay.
- The casual observer may have been shocked at who all
Jesus talked to, but those who observed Jesus closely – like Matthew –
saw that this was not because Jesus wanted to join in with their sinful
behavior but rather because Jesus wanted to save them from their sin.
- Jesus’ disciples observed that people who knew they were
messed up with sin were more interested in being saved from their sin
than the nice, self-righteous people who led respectable lives and didn’t
really want to change. (cf. Luke 15:1 ff.)
So just brace yourself. If you humbly obey God and act in
a way that is different from the world, then you will be criticized just like
Jesus and John were by people who want to avoid God’s truth, but…
4. If we hold fast to God’s wisdom, it will eventually become obvious that we’re
doing the right thing. (11:19b)
- In response to all these
criticisms and attempts to discredit Him, Jesus coins this proverb,
“Wisdom is justified by her works,” or as Luke 7:35 quotes Him,
“Wisdom is justified by all her children.”
- Now, why did one Gospel writer quote Jesus as saying
“children” and another quote Jesus as saying “works?” It’s because Jesus
didn’t make the original statement in Greek; He made it in Aramaic, which
is a rather different language, and the Gospel writers were translating
what Jesus said into the nearest equivalents in Greek.
- Although we don’t have a record of Jesus’ original
statement in Aramaic, I would guess, based on the two Greek words used
to translate it, that Jesus used the Hebrew word “benim” which
literally means “sons,” but has a broad range of meaning, including
“offspring from a common ancestor,” or “people or objects of a similar
nature,” or “the outcomes of a particular decision or action.”
- So I think Luke’s translation philosophy was more like
our King James or NAS Bibles, and he went with the literal rendering “sons,”
- whereas Matthew may have
gone with a more dynamic-equivalent philosophy (like our NIV Bibles) and
translated with the word “works” to interpret more specifically what
Jesus meant by the word “son” in a meaningful way in Greek.
So, Wisdom is justified by its children or its works.
- To be justified is to be recognized by a judge as
being in the right. Wisdom is cleared of all charges, acquitted,
exonerated, and proved right
as the results come in, and as those who have been trained by God’s
wisdom agree and say to God (like the Psalmist did), “you are proved
right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Ps. 51:4, NIV).
- The real key to understanding
this proverb lies in Luke’s account of this same discourse. In Luke
7:29-30, it says, “When all the people and the tax collectors heard this,
they justified (or acknowledged the rightness of) God, having been
baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the law-experts found
no place for God's counsel in themselves, not having been baptized by
- One would expect the “children or workers of wisdom” to
be the Bible-experts and Pharisees, but, by and large, it was the people
who weren’t particularly educated or holy who accepted John’s message as
true and acted on it by being baptized. This baptism symbolized the fact
that they had turned away from their sins and were accepting God’s
provision to cleanse them of all their sin.
- I love what Matthew Henry said about
this, “Christ is Wisdom; in Him are hid the treasures of wisdom. The
saints are the children God has given Him, (Heb. 2:13). The gospel is…
the wisdom from above: true believers are begotten again by it, and born
from above too; they are wise children… not like the foolish children
that sat in the markets. These children of wisdom justify wisdom; they
comply with the designs of Christ's grace, answer the intentions of it,
and are suitably affected with, and impressed by, the various methods it
takes… The publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of
John, and afterwards embracing the gospel of Christ. Note, The success of
the means of grace justifies the wisdom of God in the choice of these
means, against those who charge Him with folly therein. [As] The cure of
every patient that observes the physician's orders justifies the wisdom
of the physician: and therefore Paul is not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, because, whatever it is to others, to them that believe, it is
the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The cross of Christ, which
to others is foolishness and a stumbling-block, is to them that are
called, the wisdom of God and the power of God (1Cor. 1:23-24).” ~M. Henry
- So, in a sense, we’re back to the children in the
- Are we going to try to be like the foolish children who were
piping and mourning and trying to tell the prophets what to do and got
frustrated when John the Baptizer and Jesus the Messiah gave them
- or will we be the children of wisdom who accept John’s
call to repentance and Jesus’ call to believe that He is God who died and
rose again for sinners like us?
- Will you be like the prophet Micaiah who humbly did God’s
will even though hundreds of people were putting pressure on him the
- Will you act forcefully to seize the kingdom of heaven
even if it means enduring criticism? In this way you will justify God’s
wisdom and over time it will become obvious that you’re right.
- Proverbs 1:7 The beginning of wisdom is fear of God, and
good understanding comes to all the doers of it. Also, reverence toward
God is the beginning of discernment; but the ungodly will put out wisdom
and instruction. (LXX)