Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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We Played the Flute

By Dennis Pollock


In the gospel of Luke, Jesus asked the question:


“To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not weep.’" (Luke 7:31-32)


Jesus is specifically targeting the people who had no use for either His own ministry or the ministry of His predecessor and announcer, John the Baptist. Both Jesus and John had tremendous ministries, leading to a sort of "revival" in Israel. Thousands came to hear them preach and great multitudes repented and indicated their willingness to change and follow God's ways by being baptized in water.


You had two major revivals, two major outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and two major moves of God in the tiny nation of Israel within a short time of each other. Some people liked John better, some liked Jesus better, and some folks didn't care for either one of them. They had no use for John or Jesus. And these folks are the ones Jesus was targeting in this question, comparing them to children playing games in the village marketplaces.


Unhappy Kids


Jesus describes a group of kids who are not happy with another group. The first group wants the other group to dance when they play their little homemade flute. But the other children just sit there. They do not get up and dance to the flute music as the first group wants. So, the children in group 1 change their tactics. They decide since the others do not want to dance, they are going to play "funeral procession." They start pretending to cry and mourn but once again, the others do not join in. They sit there stone-faced making no effort to join in the mock funeral. And the first group gets frustrated. None of their efforts make any difference to these other children who have no desire to either dance or pretend to have a mock funeral.


So, what did this have to do with Jesus and John? Jesus spells it out plainly, saying:


For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children. (Luke 7:33-35)


John's Austerity


John had a very austere lifestyle. As far as we know, he was never married. He lived away from the big cities in the wilderness or small village areas. He ate whatever he could find to eat, and this was primarily locusts and honey. No big-city meals for this man. He dressed plainly and spoke plainly. He refused to eat bread and did not drink wine, which would have been standard fare for nearly all the Jews of his day. To sum John up, he was a little odd in his personal habits and lifestyle. His austere life matched perfectly with his tough preaching and his insistence that people need to repent in order to be prepared for the coming Messiah.


Jesus declared that John's idiosyncrasies had led many people to say: "He has a demon." In other words, this guy's a lunatic. Why in the world would we listen to him? Jesus did not see it this way. He clearly believed that John was anointed and called by God. In fact, He said at one point that there was never a greater prophet throughout the history of Israel than John. And of course, Jesus was not only talking about John personally – He was in effect saying that the movement that had begun through John was truly of God, in other words, this was a real, genuine, authentic revival, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit that had been happening in the last year, and yet many people wrote the movement and John off as craziness.


This is an important point, not only about John's ministry but concerning every genuine move of God He has ever done on the earth. There will always be critics, from the Day of Pentecost right down to the present day. There will always be people who hate any new thing that God is doing on earth. They are obsessed with preserving the status quo. And if any movement brings change with it, or if any of the leaders in the movement don't dress quite normally or don't preach quite the way grandpa used to preach, or sing new songs that grandpa never sang, or if they pray for the sick, even though grandpa never prayed for the sick, they are ready to write it off as fake and surely "of the devil." This is found in every revival, every new movement of God, and every new emphasis in the church that God has ever inspired.


When John came along, many folks were not at all happy. He was too tough, he preached too hard, he dressed too funny, and he spoke with authority when he didn't even have a seminary degree. Surely, he was demon-possessed and all who followed him and loved him, and thousands did, some gullible simpletons had no spiritual discernment, and had been taken in by a spiritual impostor. And yet, history shows us that they were wrong – they were dead wrong.


Jesus' Liberty


Then Jesus tells them that "the Son of man (Himself) has come eating and drinking…" Jesus appeared publicly in Israel with a totally different look than John. He didn't live out in the wilderness; He frequented the large cities. He didn't eat grasshoppers at every meal, he could dine at parties and enjoy fancy foods and big meals. He dressed in an expensive robe, and he drank wine. As much as Jesus admired John, He did not attempt to dress like him, eat like him, or be like Him. And yet these same people who had such a problem with John's austerity had equal problems with Jesus' freedom to eat and drink, and said of Jesus, "Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" They were just as put off by Jesus as they had been by John.


John had come, God had poured out His Spirit, multitudes were revived and transformed, and these people could do nothing but complain. "He's too tough, he's too preachy, he's too weird." Then Jesus followed hard on John's heels, and God poured out His Spirit once again, and greater numbers still found grace and were transformed. And yet these same people who had such trouble with John's ministry and movement had equal problems with Jesus' ministry. He drinks wine, He eats with tax collectors, and His clothes are too fancy. Jesus is essentially saying to these folks, "You're not satisfied with anything. Whatever God does, you're just not happy. You are determined that, in whatever form it comes, you will steadfastly oppose the work of God. You would rather He would leave you alone and not disturb you and disrupt your small, little lives."


These grumpy, dissatisfied people missed the two greatest movements of God in the history of the earth. God was creating two consecutive spiritual hurricanes right under their noses and all they could do was complain about John's austerity and the fact that Jesus drank wine and went to parties with sinners. In the book of Acts, Stephen told his accusers, who would soon stone him, "You always resist the Holy Spirit," and this perfectly describes these people.


When God pours out His Spirit upon His people from generation to generation, it will never be exactly the same. The preachers involved will be different, the songs will be different, and the style will be different. They will never be the same or even close to the same. Many people can accept the great things God did 75 years ago or 200 years ago. They will be 100 percent behind what God did in a previous generation, but when God does something in their own day, they will resist it, criticize it, make negative YouTube videos about it, and come up with five or ten or a dozen reasons why this new movement is "not of God" and is definitely "not revival." And this is exactly what has happened recently when many are so dead certain that God's pouring out of His Spirit on Asbury University must surely be fake, bogus, and nothing more than a little youthful emotionalism.


Bible Knowledge without The Spirit


In many cases, the problem is pretty simple. These people have no experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit. The greatest means by which you can identify the true work of the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the Holy Spirit yourself. And sadly, many in the church have never experienced any filling of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and neither expect nor desire it.


The devil does not like the Holy Spirit. He doesn't like the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. If everybody will just behave themselves and sit down and be satisfied with some dull, dry sermon at church, and then go home and mind their own business, the devil will be happy. He can live with that. But when God starts to move and people are in tears and services extend day and night for weeks, and the world sits up and takes notice, he is not a happy devil.


 Sadly, sometimes people, even Christians, can catch that spirit of the devil and they will resist the work of the Spirit, even to the extent that they attribute the work of God as being "of the devil." This happens so frequently in every movement of God that it is to be expected. You can bank on the fact that any time God pours out His Spirit, any time He does some new work, anytime the Holy Spirit moves in such a way that people not only learn about God, but they can also literally feel His holy presence, the critics will come out, even from the ranks of those who call themselves God's people.


These people may have read about how God poured out His Spirit through the ministry of Charles Spurgeon in London in the 1800's. They are OK with that. But this new outpouring – no, this cannot possibly be of God. "Give us another Spurgeon. Give us another revival just like in the Spurgeon days!" But Charles Spurgeon has been dead for 150 years. Don't be looking for another Spurgeon. The Holy Spirit, however, is still alive and active on earth, and just because He is doing some new thing that doesn't look much like what He did in Spurgeon's day, does not automatically make it invalid or spurious. It just makes it different.


It was so in Jesus' day when God moved so powerfully in the lives of John the Baptist, and then His Son Jesus. These movements came and went, and some people had the two greatest outpourings of the Holy Spirit in history occur right before their faces and had no clue that God was at work. God's divine flutes were playing, but they refused to dance. May we never be found in the camp of the non-dancers!



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