“We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance!”
What did Jesus mean?
16 “Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other,
17 ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!’
That the people of his day, like the people of this day, often stage situations expecting others to automatically play a role they have been presented with. They behave like children who have put on a choreographed skit and then get frustrated that you will not play the part they have created for you.
Instead of excepting and conforming to what God was leading, they desired to bend things to their desire and will. They did not want to lend their allegiance to a Heavenly kingdom with a Heavenly leader, but to an earthly kingdom and a man-made rulership.
In the preceding verses, Jesus draws his listener’s attention first to John the baptizer and then to himself.
Matthew 11:7(b) -10
“When you went out to John in the desert, what did you expect to see? A blade of grass bending in the wind?
8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in fancy clothes? People who dress like that live in palaces!
9 Tell me, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes indeed, but you saw much more than a prophet.
10 For John is the one of whom the scripture says: ‘God said, I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’
But John did not fit their expectation either and was rejected by the great many of his fellow Israelites. They saw him as some weird guy who didn’t fit in.
John the Baptist was born a son of one of the Priests of Israel. It would be expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a temple priest himself. Instead of being in the temple, John was preaching in the wilderness.
At the time of John the baptizer there was a great amount of corruption that existed in the temple. We know that many of the priests used their position to become wealthy, turning the temple into a den of thieves as Jesus called it.
John rejected the corruption of the temple, and instead went into the wilderness to preach God’s Word. He rejected the best foods of the day to eat locusts and honey. Instead of a priestly robe, he wore skins but he preached the truth of God’s Word. That must have seemed strange to most of his contemporaries.
Also, John preached about the “Kingdom of heaven” and not about the establishment of an earthly kingdom in the hands of men. This is the same ‘Kingdom’ all the preceding prophets before John had pointed to.
12 From the time John preached his message until this very day the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violent attacks, and violent men try to seize it.
13 Until the time of John all the prophets and the Law of Moses spoke about the Kingdom;
14 and if you are willing to believe their message, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted.
It was also true of the Lord Jesus himself.
Matthew 11:18 and 19
18 When John came, he fasted and drank no wine, and everyone said, ‘He has a demon in him!’
19 When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’ God’s wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results.”
Yes they also accredited Jesus’ powerful works to the demons too.
22 Then some people brought Jesus a man possessed by a demon. The demon made the man blind and unable to talk. Jesus cured him so that he could talk and see.
23 The crowds were all amazed and said, “Can this man be the Son of David?”
24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man can force demons out of people only with the help of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.”
Jesus did not fulfill their expectations either. The Pharisees and others looked down on him because of his personal habits and the company he chose to keep. The Pharisees you may recall, were very elitist and would never be seen associating with the majority of the kinds of people the Lord was willing to expose himself to. Jesus said himself:
“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”.
They had their own ideas of godliness and righteousness that Jesus would not become part of. It was self-righteousness. And many Jews at that time had a Zionist vision that Jesus would have nothing to do with. They were NOT seeking the Kingdom of heaven. Some even wanted to make him their king, but he rejected the notion. And this frustrated them and made them question why.
So Jesus compared them to little children who had prepared a scene of their choosing but wasn’t what God had prepared. Think: If you heard wedding music but there was no actual wedding going on, would you start dancing as if there were? If you heard a funeral dirge yet no one had died, would you weep and mourn anyway? Are you stirred up by behaviors around you to do things contrary to the will of God?
Because Jesus did not fit their ideas and did not play to their tune so to speak, he was rejected. In rejecting Jesus, they were rejecting God and His divine plan.
Today we see the very same attitudes and behaviors continue by those who seek not the Kingdom of heaven, but the establishment of an earthly world ruling kingdom.