See this passage explained in Luke 7:29
The people - The common people.
That heard him - That heard “John.”
The publicans - The tax-gatherers, the worst kind of people, who had, however, been converted.
Justified God - Considered God as “just” or “right” in the counsel which he gave by John - to wit, in calling people to repentance, and in denouncing future wrath on the impenitent. Compare Matthew 11:19.
Being baptized - They “showed” that they approved of the message of God by submitting to the ordinance which he commanded - the ordinance of baptism. This verse and the following are not to be considered as the words of “Luke,” but the continuation of the discourse of our Lord. He is saying what took place in regard to John. Among the common people he was approved and obeyed among the rich and learned he was despised.
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected - It appears from Matthew 3:7 that some of the Pharisees came to John to be baptized; but still this is entirely consistent with the supposition that the great mass of Pharisees and lawyers rejected him.
The counsel of God - The counsel of God toward them was the solemn admonition by John to “repent” and be baptized, and be prepared to receive the Messiah. This was the command or revealed will of God in relation to them. When it is said that they “rejected” the counsel of God, it does not mean that they could frustrate his purposes, but merely that they violated his commands. Men cannot frustrate the “real” purposes of God, but they can contemn his messages, they can violate his commands, and thus they can reject the counsel which he gives them, and treat with contempt the desire which he manifests for their welfare.
Against themselves - To their own hurt or detriment. God is wise and good. He knows what is best for us. He, therefore, that rejects what God commands, rejects it to his own injury. It “cannot” be well for any mortal to despise what God commands him to do.
See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 11:16-19. “And the Lord said.” This clause is wanting in almost all the manuscripts, and is omitted by the best critics.
Thus the day wore away, the disciples of John seeing and hearing all. At last Jesus called them to Him, and bade them go and tell John what they had witnessed, adding, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in Me.” Luke 7:23, R. V. The evidence of His divinity was seen in its adaptation to the needs of suffering humanity. His glory was shown in His condescension to our low estate. DA 217.1
The disciples bore the message, and it was enough. John recalled the prophecy concerning the Messiah, “The Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Isaiah 61:1, 2. The works of Christ not only declared Him to be the Messiah, but showed in what manner His kingdom was to be established. To John was opened the same truth that had come to Elijah in the desert, when “a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire:” and after the fire, God spoke to the prophet by “a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11, 12. So Jesus was to do His work, not with the clash of arms and the overturning of thrones and kingdoms, but through speaking to the hearts of men by a life of mercy and self-sacrifice. DA 217.2
The principle of the Baptist's own life of self-abnegation was the principle of the Messiah's kingdom. John well knew how foreign all this was to the principles and hopes of the leaders in Israel. That which was to him convincing evidence of Christ's divinity would be no evidence to them. They were looking for a Messiah who had not been promised. John saw that the Saviour's mission could win from them only hatred and condemnation. He, the forerunner, was but drinking of the cup which Christ Himself must drain to its dregs. DA 218.1Read in context »
John the Baptist had been first in heralding Christ's kingdom, and he was first also in suffering. From the free air of the wilderness and the vast throngs that had hung upon his words, he was now shut in by the walls of a dungeon cell. He had become a prisoner in the fortress of Herod Antipas. In the territory east of Jordan, which was under the dominion of Antipas, much of John's ministry had been spent. Herod himself had listened to the preaching of the Baptist. The dissolute king had trembled under the call to repentance. “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy; ... and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” John dealt with him faithfully, denouncing his iniquitous alliance with Herodias, his brother's wife. For a time Herod feebly sought to break the chain of lust that bound him; but Herodias fastened him the more firmly in her toils, and found revenge upon the Baptist by inducing Herod to cast him into prison. DA 214.1Read in context »