Jesus’ Testimony to John (Luke 7:24-35)

Jesus’ Testimony to John.

24 When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind?

25 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces.

26 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

27 This is the one about whom scripture says:

‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

he will prepare your way before you.’

28I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

29 (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God;

30 but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

31 “Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?

32They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.

We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’

34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

35 But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”


By now, large crowds follow Jesus almost everywhere he goes.  By far, the great majority of the people in the crowds are attracted by His miracles and by his preaching, but more particularly they are drawn to Jesus himself.  Nevertheless, almost anywhere he goes, there are always at least a few religious leaders, Scribes and Pharisees, keeping an eye on Him.  These men reject His miracles and his preaching and more particularly, they feel threatened by Jesus himself.

As Jesus addresses the crowds we can hold these two groups in mind; those that embrace Him, and those that reject Him.  For those that embrace Him the testimony to John is more good news; it hails the coming of the Messiah.  Even more than that, Jesus’ testimony presents a future of great promise.  Look at it this way: “among those born of women” – you, me, the tax collector standing next to us, the anonymous prostitute in the crowd – “there is none greater than John” the Baptist. “Yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than He.”  Imagine how wonderful that sounds to the sinful tax collector and prostitute; it’s more than a second chance at life.  Imagine how wonderful it should sound to you and me.

Now we can consider how harsh and discordant this same message would sound to the Scribes and Pharisees*.  They would already be insulted at the notion that none of them are greater than John the Baptist.  Furthermore, the very idea is unimaginable that common sinners in the crowd would be admitted to the kingdom of God and afforded an elevated dignity.  The Scribes and Pharisees reject the plan of God that Jesus preaches.  They hate the wisdom – divine wisdom – of His Gospel.  If we are honest with ourselves we must recognize that whenever we think someone else is below us or below our friends and loved ones, then we are being like the Scribes and Pharisees.  Pray for the humility to never see ourselves as loftier than Christ sees us, and never see any person (ourselves included) with a dignity beneath what God as bestowed on us all.

Jesus asks “to what shall I compare the people of this generation?”  Perhaps “this generation” doesn’t describe everyone in the crowd.  Consider that those who embrace Christ and His Gospel are of the generation of the kingdom of God.  The people of “this generation” are the ones of the world; it’s the people who want to stay in the world; they are the scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus offers a parable to describe how the Scribes and Pharisees have received the Good News.  “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.”  In other words, Jesus offered them great Joy, but they would have no part in it.  “We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.” John called them to repentance, but they would have no part in that either.  In the end, they found a way in their hearts to condemn Jesus as a glutton who shares the company of sinners and to condemn John as possessed by a demon.

It is not entirely unusual in scripture for Wisdom to be represented or described as a person (see Proverbs 8). In fact, as we become more acquainted with scripture whenever we hear the word “Wisdom”, especially represented as a person, we will immediately be reminded of Proverbs Chapter 8, known as “the Discourse of Wisdom.”  We can be sure that when Christ said “Wisdom is vindicated by her children” the Scribes and Pharisees would have remembered Proverbs 8.  (Quick side note: to vindicate is to clear of all blame or suspicion.)  Now consider the following lines from the book of Proverbs; these are the last verses of chapter 8.  The one speaking is Wisdom herself:

32 Now, children, listen to me; happy are they who keep my ways.

33 Listen to instruction and grow wise, do not reject it!

34 Happy the one who listens to me, attending daily at my gates, keeping watch at my doorposts;

35 For whoever finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;

36 But those who pass me by do violence to themselves; all who hate me love death.”


Uncanny, isn’t it?  It’s almost as if Wisdom herself from Proverbs 8 was speaking directly to the crowd and addressed the two groups of people directly; those who embrace Christ (His followers) and those who reject him (the Scribes and Pharisees). She will certainly be vindicated by her children.

Our prayerful response should be to ask for the grace to always seek divine wisdom.

* As we’ve said before, not all of the Scribes and Pharisees were bad men.  But in this context the Scribes and Pharisees are the ones who reject Christ.  They reject Him out of jealousy and they feel threatened about the forgiveness of sins that he preaches.


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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