Luke 7:31
And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
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(31-35) Whereunto then shall I liken . . .—See Notes on Matthew 11:16-19. Some of the better MSS. omit the introductory words, “and the Lord said.”

7:19-35 To his miracles in the kingdom of nature, Christ adds this in the kingdom of grace, To the poor the gospel is preached. It clearly pointed out the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, that the messenger he sent before him to prepare his way, did it by preaching repentance and reformation of heart and life. We have here the just blame of those who were not wrought upon by the ministry of John Baptist or of Jesus Christ himself. They made a jest of the methods God took to do them good. This is the ruin of multitudes; they are not serious in the concerns of their souls. Let us study to prove ourselves children of Wisdom, by attending the instructions of God's word, and adoring those mysteries and glad tidings which infidels and Pharisees deride and blaspheme.See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 11:16-19. "And the Lord said." This clause is wanting in almost all the manuscripts, and is omitted by the best critics. 31-35. the Lord said, &c.—As cross, capricious children, invited by their playmates to join them in their amusements, will play with them neither at weddings nor funerals (juvenile imitations of the joyous and mournful scenes of life), so that generation rejected both John and his Master: the one because he was too unsocial—more like a demoniac than a rational man; the other, because He was too much the reverse, given to animal indulgences, and consorting with the lowest classes of society. But the children of Wisdom recognize and honor her, whether in the austere garb of the Baptist or in the more attractive style of his Master, whether in the Law or in the Gospel, whether in rags or in royalty, for "the full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" (Pr 27:7).Ver. 31-35. See Poole on "Matthew 11:16" and following verses to Matthew 11:19, where we have this smart reflection upon the scribes and Pharisees, and the generality of the Jews. They were neither pleased full nor fasting, but censorious of the different manner of living of John and Christ. John showed a more austere and severe humour, and lived like a recluse: you had nothing else to say; you said he had a devil. I have chosen not a less innocent, but a more free converse with men of all sorts, and eat and drink as other men; of me you say that I am a wine bibber, a glutton, a friend of publicans and sinners. Such was their perverseness, that proceeded from their enmity to the doctrine of John and Christ.

And the Lord said,.... This clause is not in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, nor in some copies, nor in Beza's most ancient copy; and being omitted, more clearly shows, that the two former verses are the words of Christ, and not an observation the evangelist makes, on the different behaviour of Christ's hearers, upon the commendation he had given of John:

whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation; or "to what men shall I liken them", as the Persic version: the phrase "men of this generation", is Rabbinical; so , the men of that "generation", are more beautiful in work than these, says the Targumist on Ecclesiastes 7:11. "And to what are they like?" To that which follows.

{5} And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?

(5) Whatever manner God uses in offering us the gospel, most men bring offences upon themselves: yet nevertheless a Church is gathered together.

Luke 7:31-35. The children in the market place.—τοὺς ἀν. τ. γενεᾶς ταύτης. The pointed reference in the previous verse to the Pharisees and lawyers marks them out as, in the view of the evangelist, the “generation” Jesus has in His eye. This is not so clear in Mt.’s version, where we gather that they are the subject of animadversion from the characterisation corresponding to their character as otherwise known. Jesus spoke severely only of the religious leaders; of the people always pitifully.

31. And the Lord said] These words are almost certainly spurious, being omitted by all the best uncials.

Whereunto then shall I liken] Our Lord seems more than once to have used this formula to arrest attention for His parables. Mark 4:30.

Luke 7:31. Ὁμοιώσω, shall I liken) viz. in words.—ὅμοιοι, like) viz. in actual fact. True words express the actual fact.

Verse 31. - And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? The Master evidently paused a moment here. He sought for some homely, popular simile which would drive home to the listeners' hearts his sad and solemn judgment of the conduct of the ruling Jews of this time. The generation he was then addressing had been singularly blessed with two great Divine messages - the one delivered by that eminent servant of God, John, about whom he had been speaking in such glowing, earnest terms; the other message was his own. He chose for his purpose one of those everyday scenes from the people's life, a scene which they had witnessed often, and in which, no doubt, in past days many of the by-standers themselves had taken a part - one of those child-games which the little ones in his day were wont to play in the summer evenings, and in which, likely enough, he in his boyish years had often shared in, as he played in the little market-place of Nazareth. He likened the wayward men of that generation to a group of children of the people in some open space of the city, now playing at rejoicings, such as take place at wedding festivities, now at wailings, which in Eastern countries accompany funerals; that is to say, the little group would divide itself into two companies, and one would say to the other, "Come, now we will play at a wedding; here are the pipers and the singers, do you come and dance and make merry;" but the others would not. Then the little company of would-be merrymakers would beat their breasts and cry with pretended sorrow; but the others still declined to join in the game of mourning - would not play "at a funeral," just as they refused to join in the game of "rejoicing at a wedding." To such a band of imperious little ones, who were angry if the others did not at once comply with their demands, Jesus compared the wayward and evil generation in which he and John lived. Had they not found bitter fault with John because he had declined to have anything to do with their wicked self-indulgent feasting and luxury? How often had Pharisee and scribe railed with bitter railings against Jesus because he would have nothing to do with their false and hypocritical fastings, with their pretended shrinking from what they deemed unclean and unworthy of them! Dr. Morrison puts it rightly, and forcibly: "They were dissatisfied with John, and would have nothing to do with him." If we are to have reformers, commend us to such as come near us, and visit our houses, and sit at our tables, and are sociable like ourselves.' They pretended, on the other hand, to scorn Jesus, who, while making so lofty a profession, yet went about eating and drinking in people's houses, and even in the homes of publicans and sinners. 'He should have gone into the desert and lived an abstemious life .... Commend us to ascetic men for our reformers.'" The line of interpretation which seems to us simpler and fitted to the framework of the little parable is in the main thus adopted by Meyer, Dr. W. Bleek, Bishop Wordsworth, and Dean Plumptre. "You men of this generation," writes Bishop Wordsworth, "are like a troop of wayward children, who go on with their own game, at one time gay, at another grave, and give heed to no one else, and expect that every one should conform to them. You were angry with John because he would not dance to your piping, and with me because 1 will not weep to your dirge; John censured your licentiousness, I rebuke your hypocrisy; you vilify both, and reject the good counsel of God, who has devised a variety of means for your salvation." Luke 7:31
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