Luke 7:32 Jesus said: “They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'”
The street I lived on as a child was the greatest playground I have ever known. My brothers and I played with the other kids at football, hide and seek, rounders, dodgie ball, best man fall, kick the can, red rover, hopscotch (known as ‘peever’ in Glasgow) and were even known to play skipping ropes with the girls or challenge them to a hula hoop contest (which the girls always won). The street was always full of excitement and laughter, cheers and songs.
Sometimes we all fell out with each other and formed cliques. We would then yell at each other across the street and call one another names. At some point, both groups would end up singing “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” We would sing it as loudly as we could until one of the homeowners on the street would come outside to tell us kids that we were making too much noise. This was immediately met with peals of laughter, at which point, we forgot our dispute and gathered together again to play a new game.
In Christ’s time, the children also played on the street and sang derisive songs to one another. Today’s verse includes one of them which must have been well known to Jesus, as well as His listeners. He used the song as an example of people always finding fault with others, whose narrow-minded ways or bitterness precluded them from enjoying the wonders of God’s Kingdom and Christ’s ministry. Usually, His veiled comments were meant for the religious authorities who were displeased with, and displaced by, His ministry. Their callous hearts could not comprehend the compassion of His work. Their self-righteousness severed them from God’s love.
As Christians, we can be smug at times and spiritually aloof. Our pride can damage our effective witness and our religious arrogance can undermine Christ’s great work. It’s never easy to be a Christian, but sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Perhaps, instead of scornfully singing dirges of derision at the world, we should cheerfully give voice to the songs of salvation for the healing of God’s Creation.
Question for personal reflection
What kind of song of faith do I sing to the world with my life and Christian beliefs?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are times when we read the Gospels that
we find it easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we would never have complained against You or derided Your ministry. However, when we honestly reflect upon those divisive events in Your past, we know that we are guilty of the same excesses of religious self-righteousness and damaging witness of our faith. Forgive us and help us to change our lives according to Your ways. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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