1. Matthew 11: 1-19 – John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus
John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus
11 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
16 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17 and saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
In the first section of this chapter we see John the Baptist asking for a confirmation if Jesus Christ is the Messiah. The reason for John the Baptist to require a further confirmation if Jesus really is the Messiah after baptizing Christ in Chapter 3 could be because of the Messianic expectations of the people at that time. Most people expected a Messiah who would expel the Gentile oppressors from the land and establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace. They did not expect, and did not understand , that Jesus would not do that but would die at their hands instead. It actually took the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost before the disciples were able to put together what the plan was – even though Christ tried to explain it to them time and time again.
Jesus gives an answer by pointing to the miracles and the work that He has been doing as a fulfillment of prophecy relating to the Messiah. This was the proof of the Messiah. Prophets had indeed performed miracles , but no prophet had performed so many, or any so important. Jesus also performed all of these miracles “in His own name” and by His own power. All other prophets had done it by the power of God. So, Jesus performed the works that none other prophets could do and this was to show that He indeed is the Messiah.
We also can see that the gospel was preached to the poor, which was predicted of the Messiah to do, as it says in Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” By this also John was to know that Jesus was truly the Messiah. Also notice that the poor had always been overlooked by Pharisees and philosophers. There were no system or religion that attempted to instruct the poor before the Christian religion. In all others, the poor had been passed by as unworthy of notice.
After this in verse 7-15 Christ talks about John the Baptist, not only for his praise but also for the peoples profit. It shows that John was a self-denying man, dead to all the pleasures of this world. John was a great and a good man, yet not perfect and that is why he is the least of the saints that are in the kingdom of heaven. The least in the heaven knows more, loves more, and does more in praising God, and receives more from Him, than the greatest in this world. We need to be thankful to God that we are here in this period to experience the advantages of the light and love and God. There were many who repented through the ministry of John and became his disciples, and strove for a place in the kingdom. It shows us what fervency and zeal is required of all. Self must be denied, and they our whole thought process must change. Those who have an interest in the great salvation , will want it on any terms, not thinking of it as too difficult, but holding on and not giving up until the blessing is received.
Verse 16-17 talks about Jesus comparing this generation. The men at that age, the stubborn Jews who were pleased with nothing, having a ministry neither of John or of Jesus, but only found fault with everybody else they heard and saw. Jesus compares this to children sitting at a market place and calling their friends. Jesus is representing such people as children in a public market, calling to their companions to dance with them when music is played or mourn with them, but they were so ill-tempered and sulky they to do neither of them. Christ is saying that the men of that generation are not the good natured children, that called to their friends and who were willing to join in the innocent activities, but rather John the Baptist, Christ and His disciples who may have been compared to children, for their harmlessness and simplicity; are represented as “sitting in markets”, or places where the discussions are held, which may be a representation of the synagogues and temple, and other public areas which were used to discuss doctrines and preach to the people. As “calling to their friends”, to their own nation, by the external ministry of the word.
Verse 18 says that John came neither eating nor drinking. This and the following verse is a further breakdown of the preceding parable and shows that John and His disciples are the persons that mourned, of which his life was proof, for he was sent of God and appeared as a public preacher, he was neither eating nor drinking”; not saying that he did not eat or drink anything at all but that he ate sparingly, very little; and what he did eat and drink was not the common food and drink of men. He neither ate break nor drank wine, but lived on locusts and wild honey. He excused all invitations to peoples houses and stayed away from all feasts and entertainments. He also abstained from all free and sociable conversations with men in eating and drinking. This is in direct contrast to the Pharisees who pretended to much abstinence and frequent fasting. They called John a madman, having a demon and influenced by Satan under a pretense of religion.
2. Matthew 11:20-24 – Woe to the Impenitent Cities
Woe to the Impenitent Cities
20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
The He began to rebuke the cities, which He had often blessed with His presence and within which he had preached many messages and performed miracles. We can observe that He had never rebuked them before as they had received Him eagerly. Christ then says “Woe to you, Chorazin!”, meaning that you are miserable. This itself is not a curse as we may often think, but it is the compassionate declaration of the misery they were bringing on themselves. Chorazin and Bethsaida are both cities of Galilee , by the lake of Gennesareth, in which and the neighboring places where Jesus spend a large amount of time .
If the mighty works which were done in these cities Tyre and Sidon, there would have been repentance long ago. These were heathen Gentile cities and were known for their luxury, pride, and contempt of religion. But seeing these mighty works, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. By this we can see that they would have exercised the deepest repentance as sackcloth and ashes were used by the Jews in token of the most bitter grief. So due to this fact, in the day of judgment, it will be far worse for Chorazin and Bethsaida.
Then Capernaum, is mentioned separately and last of all because that was Christs’place of ordinary residence. There were more sermons and more miracles that took in this place than the others. Yet it was still full of wickedness and so was compared to the city which was so bad that it brought the greatest wrath of God upon itself, which the world had ever seen. Christ is saying that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment. The point shown here is that the condemnation will be in proportion because of the more aggravated guilt, abusing the valuable mercies and privileges that they had received.
Furthermore we see that these passages are referring to the judgment day that is yet to come, and we can learn the following two points:
- The punishments and judgement on the wicked people which is to come, will not all be equal but in exact proportion of the sins of each person.
- Notice that the punishments on earth given to the world as a warning (such as Sodom and Gomorrah), does not exempt anyone from the wrath of God that is to come.
3. Matthew 11:25-30 – Jesus Gives True Rest
Jesus Gives True Rest
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
God has revealed all this to babes, that is those that are humble, simple and teachable. By the wise it is referring to the proud and haughty scribes and Pharisees in Capernaum. They rejected the gospel when it was brought to them, but it was God’s pleasure to reveal it to the obscure and humble people . Jesus then says that all things have been delivered to Him by the Father. Notice here that he does not say “revealed”, as though He did not know this before or it was only discovered, but by the word “delivered”, meaning that the whole administration of the kingdom of grace is His. John 3:35 says “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” “All things” in both passages refer to the kingdom of grace and includes all things necessary to fully execute this trust, which is “unlimited power” as said in Matthew 28:18 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
And no man knows the Son, but the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and whoever the Son wills to reveal it to. What it means to reveal here is saying this, that “the Father and Son are mutually and exclusively known to each other!” There is no higher claim to equality than this, essentially saying they are both one.
Christ then goes onto say, “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden”, showing His infinite compassion to those whose weakness and weariness He has shared, and offers them rest that no one else can provide. The words are enough to cover every form of human sin and sorrow. This was also for all those who had on them the yoke of traditions and ordinances which the Pharisees and scribes had imposed on the consciousness of men. Come to Jesus and He will give you rest. He gives what no one else can give, rest from the burden of sin, from the weariness of fruitless toil. Jesus says, “take my yoke on you”, no longer carry the teachings of the Pharisees which was a yoke too painful to carry, but carry Christ, His teaching, His rule of life. Christ is meek and lowly, demonstrated in His infinite sympathy with all people of all classes and conditions so that He may win people to come and prove by experience He is both able and willing to give rest , to hear their sorrows and to turn no-one away who seeks Him. This is when our souls will find rest, in Christ alone. The yoke of Christ is easy. They are not burdensome like other systems of religions, but by coming to Christ there is a peace that passes all understanding; in believing in Him there is joy, in following Him there is great comfort, in bearing trials and persecutions, there is the hope of glory and in keeping His commandments there is great reward.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: Various Bible Commentaries