By Dr. Donald Whitchard
“But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. “To what shall I compare this generation, and what are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance. We sang a dirge, and you did not weep. For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax gatherers and sinners! But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. There was a woman in the city who was a sinner, and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she bought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and kept wiping them with the hair of her head and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’
Jesus answered and said to him, ’Simon, I have something to say to you.’. He said, ‘Say it, Teacher.’ A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more? Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one who forgave him more.’ He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’ Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.’
You gave me no kiss, but she since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason, I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much, but he who is forgiven little, loves little. He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
- Luke 7:30-50 (NASB)
One of the hard lessons we face in our lives is that you will not be able to please everyone. If you look at the life of our LORD, it is clear that He did not set out to make everyone feel good nor did He excuse anyone from behavior or words that may have been brushed off by others. He was not a “people pleaser” or what some would define as a “good old boy” who let things be.
He was not content with how His people tended to worship the Father, nor did He put up with the hypocrisy and bad attitude of the religious leaders who should have known better. When you carefully examine all that the Lord Jesus said and did, you cannot help but conclude that He was the most direct, blunt, and no-nonsense individual to ever enter the realms of civilization. With Jesus, it was all or nothing in terms of following Him, and He made that point perfectly clear on more than one occasion (Matt.16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26; Romans 6:6, 8:36-39; 2 Cor. 4:11; Gal. 2:20, 6:14; Col. 2:20, 3:3; 2 Tim.2:11).
The call for total commitment to the LORD is found throughout the entirety of Scripture (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Joshua 24:15; Job 34:4; Jer. 21:8; Luke 16:13). The prophet Elijah called for the people of wicked Israel to make up their minds about whom they would serve, either God or Baal (1 Kings 18:20-21). God has allowed the wicked to go their own way and suffer the consequences (Deut.1:45; 1 Sam.13:14; 15:23; 16:1; 2 Kings 17:20; 24:3; 24:20; Psalm 50:16; 53:5; Isa. 1:5; Jer.2:37, 6:8, 30; 7:29; 14:10, 19; Lam.5:22; Hosea 1:9; 4:6; 5:6; 9:15; Matt. 10:33; 13:48; 25:12; Luke 12;9; 13:27; Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18; Heb.6:8; 12:17).
There is absolutely no support or advice anywhere in Scripture for a “try it out” frame of mind. Neither is there approval for anyone to have an attitude of “I’m not doing anything unless I get it my way.” Indifference and apathy towards the spiritual realm of one’s life is always rebuked and condemned by the LORD and His spokesmen and more so by the Lord Jesus during His time of ministry. In the verses that we will examine, Jesus also expresses the tendency of the people to be fickle in their assessments of both John the Baptist and of Himself as far as their respective conduct and manners are concerned.
Starting in verse 30, we read where those people who had expressed sorrow for their sins and were baptized by John as a testimony of their repentant hearts understood the blessing of being right with the LORD, while the religious officials who had spent most of their time complaining about Jesus’ apparent lack of respect for tradition and attitudes towards the Sabbath had never humbled themselves and had refused to be baptized by John. They were not going to admit that they needed to be redeemed just like everyone else, convinced that their “good works” would be sufficient enough to get them into heaven just like a lot of people have believed over the years and have ended up eternally lost and condemned as a result.
Jesus compared these individuals to children in a marketplace who were not willing to play any games with the others no matter what was suggested. They were satisfied with their ways and saw no need to be a part of something better and more rewarding. No one wants to be around someone who is never satisfied with things as they are, nor offer any solutions on how to make something better. They are professional gripers who never contribute anything worthwhile to the society in which they live but are always prepared to give an opinion or outrage over some issue or individual who irritates and annoys them. We all know people like this, and they have been little more than a source of frustration and someone they wish God would take out, be judged, and allow us the relief and freedom to get on with life and the betterment of everything.
Jesus goes on to say that people had opinions of Him and John that were as different as the events of a day. They complained that John did not eat or drink as they did, and assumed that he must have had some kind of demon that drove him away from life’s bounties, then turned right around and accused Jesus of being too jovial with people, eating and drinking with them, and then being accused of gluttony and drunkenness. You just cannot win with fickle people who find fault with someone no matter the situation or personality. There is no difference today, especially in some churches where one’s faith is measured by what they wear, do, or say.
For example, I heard one preacher ramble on about how canned biscuits were somehow sinful because he expected his wife to be able to make them in accordance with the description of a faithful wife in Proverbs 31. There was one preacher who is gone now who railed against the sin of drinking carbonated beverages like pop and pre-packaged foods declaring that God would not approve of such things going into our body, declaring it to be God’s “temple” in accordance with Scripture. When I was a teenager, youth ministers would gather us together to listen to sermons on the dangers of rock music and “backwards masking” and how listening to it would turn you into a blood-drinking, pentagram wearing follower of the devil, or a liberal, whatever was worst at the time. The ones whom I personally feel are doing more to divide the body of Christ rather than help it are those well-meaning souls who have declared in all sincerity that one particular version of the Scriptures, specifically the King James Bible, is the only one “Satan hasn’t messed with”, according to their convictions and beliefs. I am afraid that a lot of us tend to “major on the minors” and overlook the fact that people are dying and going to hell because we are neglecting to give them the Gospel, which is far more important than opinions and religious nitpicking.
Jesus and the apostles concentrated on presenting the need for all people to repent of their sins and surrender everything to the saving grace of God. They were not concerned with criticism or what people though about them. Peer pressure was never a concern to them and they didn’t conduct opinion polls to see what techniques and “seeker friendly” approaches they needed to take to make the gospel message more acceptable and palatable, or to “meet the needs” of the world around them, or make people “feel good” about themselves at the risk of losing their souls to an eternal hell. When the sinful woman showed genuine sorrow for her lifestyle and humbled herself before Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee, He knew this was no show of fickle emotion that would disappear like a morning mist. She did not need to be told that she was “blessed and highly favored”, or a “champion”, or dismiss her grief as a “lack of faith” and “loss of prosperity”. She needed a Savior, not a cheerleader who would soothe a troubled soul into a false sense of security. Simon’s religious indignation dismissed this show of grief and demonstrated that he needed to recognize his own sinful state. He needed mercy and forgiveness just as much as this woman whose repentant attitude who would be rewarded by Jesus’ act of forgiveness and assurance that she was a genuine child of God. Jesus did not favor Simon for his religiosity, but gently showed him through a parable that he needed to bow before the King as much as anyone, and to be assured that he too, would be a true citizen of heaven and a child of God as well.
Fickleness, indifference, apathy, grumbling, religiosity, and arrogance disguised as piety is not and has never been a test or mark of what some people tend to define as Christian behavior or maturity. The world could care less about preferences and positions that we take as followers of Jesus Christ. According to research groups such as the Barna Organization, Christianity has an approval rating in the United States of 30%, and it is going to get worse as the end times talked about in Scripture quickly come to pass. My hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana has seen church attendance drop down to less than 40%. The downtown church that I attended as a young man is in the process of closing and the property being put up for sale due to a drop in overall membership from 1,500 in 1980 to less than 200 in 2019. The church here in Muskogee that my wife and I attend can seat 400, but we are doing well if we see 80 or 90 on a Sunday morning.
This trend is everywhere, and the number of professing believers in Christ are not as big as we would like to think. There is a rise in apostasy, false teaching, atheism, hostility towards God and His Word, worldwide persecution and martyrdom, blasphemous movies and television, agenda driven media hostile to religion in general, and the growing acceptance of deviant behavior and lifestyles that threaten action against anyone who objects to it, and the list grows every day. Now is not the time to bicker, fume, argue, or nitpick over issues that really make not difference in the body of Christ. This is no time to be apathetic or uncaring towards one another or towards the work of the kingdom, and certainly no time to wonder whether to commit your life to Christ or stick your finger in the air to see where the wind of social opinion is blowing. It is time to be serious about your faith, pray for the lost, get off the couch, and do the work that the Lord Jesus has called and commissioned us to do before He returns. Let these verses sink in and open your eyes, repent, and surrender all to Jesus today.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.