Sunday, February 18, 2018

Children In the Marketplace

September 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Manna, Monthly Articles

Matthew 11:16-17 – To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” (NIV)

During my mother’s illness in the months preceding her death, we spent many enjoyable occasions playing her favorite board game, Parcheesi. I was amazed that she still had the spunk to play, and more often than not, she even managed to win. Nonetheless, I was up for the challenge and determined not to be a poor loser.

Recently, to my surprise, I discovered that Parcheesi has a very long history of entertaining young and old alike. In fact, many of the familiar games we know today are a modern version of ancient pastimes. Ball games of all sorts, dice, checkers, marbles, tag, leapfrog, racing, tug of war, etc., have been around for centuries. Dancing was also a popular activity. In many ways, the children in Jesus’ parable were no different than the children of today. And I can picture them in the marketplaces playing and dancing in the streets of Jerusalem.

Most games reflect the culture in which they develop, and role playing becomes a child’s effort to mimic real-life situations. In first-century Palestine, some of these activities included the mock wedding and mourning scenes demonstrated by the Hebrew children. But our Lord’s illustration is not about child’s play; it is about the attitude of the adults whom they imitate. He describes two groups of children. One group plays fairly, and the other simply will never be satisfied no matter what game is being played.

Like many of the games children play, some things never seem to change. If we are honest, we, too, probably had the same childish attitudes at one time or another, no different than the expectations of the children portrayed in today’s Scripture.

So, what message does Jesus’ parable have for this generation? If we humbly follow the unselfish example of Christ, who always has the best interests of others at heart, then none of us will lose.

 Prayer: Lord, help us to follow Your example of gentleness and humility. Inspire us to do the things that are right in Your eyes toward others, and replace our selfish attitudes with an attitude of devotion toward You. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

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