Lesson 127—August 28, 2016
Once Again, Time will Tell
Introduction: At the conclusion of last week’s lesson, I asked a question for your response: How is it that the same message brings such different responses? My question was asked in reference to those who heard the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus Himself. Some responded in faith and belief while others responded by rejecting.
In our world today, the response to the gospel is the same as of John and Jesus’ day. Some hear the message and respond in faith, while others hear the exact same message and respond by rejecting the message.
What is your response to the gospel?
(v. 29) “And when all the people heard Him (Jesus), even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.”
In verses 29 and 30, Luke inserts a parenthetical note before continuing with Jesus’ words. In verse 29, Luke offers that some people “heard” and therefore received Jesus’ teaching as truth, then responded in faith and belief. Luke emphasizes the fact that even tax collectors responded positively to the message of Jesus. Not only were the common folks responding to John the Baptist and Jesus, but “even the tax collectors.”
“justified God”—This means that they simply stood in agreement with what God said about them. They didn’t merely offer verbal affirmation; they witnessed, through their actions, their belief (see verse 35). Even before Jesus preached, many responded to the message of John, leading to their baptism by him.
“justified God”—“This phrase is used by Luke more than by the other Gospel writers. The ordinary people acknowledged the righteousness of God by accepting the condemnation of their sins through John’s message, and they expressed repentance by submitting to baptism” (Pfeiffer).
The Preacher’s Sermon Outline says, “The people who repented justified God. By repenting and being baptized, they vindicated John’s ministry. They proclaimed that God is just and righteous and that they owe their lives to Him. They accepted God, repenting and changing their lives.”
(v. 30) In Luke’s parenthetical injection, the second group he mentions is those who rejected John’s message, and they will also reject Jesus’ message. This group is the religionists, comprised of the Pharisees and lawyers (scribes), would see no need for response to the message because in their own eyes there was no need for repentance. They perceived themselves to be spiritually superior to the common people and certainly to the tax collectors. They were not willing to admit that they were sinners, so there was no need for repentance and the outward expression of conversion (baptism).
Please explain this statement in reference to God’s plan of salvation: Before you can get someone saved, you must first get them lost.
(vv. 31-32) Luke resumes the words of Jesus during this discourse: “To what shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?”
Jesus directs His words to those of His day, but they continue to sound forth the message of truth to our generation as well. In verses 32-34, Jesus gives us the answer to the question of verse 31.
Jesus likened the religionists (Pharisees and scribes) to children playing along the streets and around the markets. For us today, this would be equated to children playing on the playground or gathered in the backyard. The ever-practical words of J. Vernon McGee help us to understand the application of verses 31-35:
In other words, they were like a bunch of spoiled brats. A lot of folks are that way. I was a pastor for almost 40 years, and a great deal of that time was spent as a wet nurse, burping spiritual babies—which is what these religious rulers were in Christ’s day. The Lord said they were like children playing in the marketplace. One of the children says, “Let’s play wedding.” The others say, “No, that’s too jolly.” “Then let’s play funeral.” No, they don’t want to play funeral because that’s too sad. Our Lord said these petulant children were exactly like that religious generation. And I wonder if this is an accurate picture of the average church today.
(v. 33) Jesus uses His analogy of the children to speak directly into the hearts of the Pharisees and scribes who were major complainers and fault finders. They complained against John the Baptist and criticized him because he preferred the wilderness to the religious places. He called sinners to repent of their sins and receive a convert’s baptism. His diet was plain and simple. He was not influenced by their religious, political system; thus, when they could not control him with their political influences, they denounced him as an enemy. Those same religionists looked at Jesus and criticized Him for ministering to the people, often enjoying meals and fellowship of common folk and even “sinners.” They found fault and contempt with John the Baptist just as they found it with Jesus.
The Pharisees and scribes were pretenders. They put on an outward show of pretending to care about the things of God, but they only cared about their own selfish agendas and self-righteousness.
Jesus closes in verse 35 with: “But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
If you will allow me to borrow from my vast reservoir of Town Creek common sense wisdom, verse 35 is another wonderful reminder that “time is the great prover.” I love the words of Charles Swindoll:
We know what happened less than three years after the Pharisees denounced John as a demonized heretic and dismissed Jesus as a drunkard and a glutton. Jesus rose from the dead to vindicate His innocent death on behalf of all humanity. And today, thousands of years later, most everyone in the world knows the name Jesus Christ—but few can recall the name of a single first century Pharisee.
Take just a moment and write a paragraph on “Who is Jesus to me?”
Thank you for the blessing of allowing me to write these lessons. I pray that you are blessed by them and that God is glorified through them. My love and prayers to all of you.