In so many ways, this is a sad story. It begins when some of the disciples of John the Baptist are sent to ask Jesus if He is really the “One”. Understand that John has been sitting in Herod’s jail for quite some time now, and apparently his mental state has declined to the point where he is beginning to wonder if he was wrong about the identity of Jesus. Have you ever had such a moment when your faith lags and you begin to harbor serious doubts? If so, you have some rather prestigious company.
John asks two of his disciples go to Jesus and ask, and in reply Jesus simply tells them to relate to John what they have seen (7:18-23). Notice verse 23: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” Having doubts in a difficult time is natural enough, but the greatest blessing is found by the person who does not allow their human doubts to get the better of them.
After this, Jesus begins to address the crowd and in so doing He gives John a ringing endorsement (7:24-28). Everyone in the crowd responded to this endorsement positively, even the tax collectors, for they had gone out to hear John speak and had been baptized by him.
Well, almost everyone.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law in the crowd didn’t respond positively for they had not received John’s baptism (7:29-30). Jesus has this irritating way of knowing what people are thinking, and He knew what was going through the minds of those Pharisees and teachers of the law who believed that they never needed to receive John’s baptism of repentance, after all, they were so incredibly righteous in their own minds that there couldn’t possibly be anything for them to repent of…
Jesus compared them to little children who are never satisfied with anything, but who instead complain about everything:
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.
I rather doubt that the Pharisees and teachers of the law missed His inference that they were the ones who were seriously lacking in wisdom.
The second aspect of this story that is sad if found in the fact the the best and the brightest of that generation (possibly of any generation) were the ones who completely missed the truth of God when it appeared right in front of them.