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Mat 11:14-15 What was the expectation of Jews in the first century in regard to the prophet Elijah, and why?  See Mat 11:14, 16:14, 27:46-49, Luk 9:7-8, Joh 1:21, Mal 3:1, 4:5-6.  In what sense was John the Baptist the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophesy that Elijah would come, and what does this teach us about the manner in which prophecy is often fulfilled contrary to people’s expectations so that its fulfillment is only seen through the eyes of faith?  See Mat 11:14, Luk 1:17.  What do Jesus’ words in Mat 11:15 indicate about the spiritual nature of the things He has been talking about?  See Mat 13:9,43, Rev 2:7,11,17,29, 3:6,13,22.  Do you think it possible that there will yet be a literal fulfillment of Malachi’s prophesy at Christ’s second coming?  See Mat 17:10-13, Rev 11:3-6, 2Ki 1:10-12, 1Ki 17:1, Jam 5:17.  If so, who might the other witness of Rev 11:3 possibly be?  Cf. Gen 5:21-24, Heb 11:5, Jud 1:14-15; Rom 5:12, 1Co 15:22.

Mat 11:16-19 In this parable, who do the children represent who were calling out to others?  See Mat 11:16.  Who does the one represent who did not dance when they played the flute?  See Mat 11:18.  Who does the one represent who did not mourn or beat his breast (lit.) when they sang a dirge?  See Mat 11:19.  In light of the people’s expectations of the coming Messiah, what were those in the first century celebrating that John could not join in, so that his ministry of preparing the way for the Messiah was rejected by those who were only outwardly religious?  See Amos 5:18-20; cf. Hos 9:1.  What ought they to have been celebrating?  See Luk 1:46-55.  What were they mourning that Jesus could not join in, so that they rejected him also?  See Amos 5:10-17; cf. Eze 8:14-15, Rev 18:9-20.  What ought they to have been mourning?  See Ezr 10:1,6, Psa 119:136, Jer 3:21-25, 13:16-17, Eze 9:4.  How were these “children” like so many today who possess a form of godliness but who are only religious in the flesh and not truly holy and sanctified unto God?  Think: how might John the Baptist be received today by those who celebrate the coming of the Lord to “rapture” them away from their trials but in fact are not prepared to meet a holy God?  Or how might Jesus be received in churches today that mourn the erosion of their religious rights or their lack of prosperity for a bigger and better program, but do not mourn for their sins?  Who is the personification of the “wisdom” mentioned in the parable (Mat 11:19)?  See Pro 1:20-23, 8:12-9:6.  What do Jesus’ words mean at the end of Mat 11:19?  Think: in light of the eternal purposes for which they came, would it have been spiritually wise for John and Jesus to “dance to the tune” of the people’s expectations?  In what ways then did their deeds vindicate God’s wisdom?  Cf. Mat 11:25-26, 1Co 1:18-2:8 and the parallel passage in Luke 7:28-35[1].  What do these verses remind us about who is to dance to whose tune: God to ours, or us to God’s?

[1] Observe that Luke 7:35 has wisdom vindicated by all her children, in reference to “all the people and tax-gatherers” (Luk 7:29).  These “acknowledged God’s justice” or “vindicated God” (the same Greek word used in Luk 7:35).  The children of wisdom are those “babes” who vindicate God and His wisdom as they respond to “the foolishness of the message preached” (1Co 1:21) which is rejected by the worldly “wise and intelligent” who are only outwardly religious (Mat 11:25).

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