Memory Verse: Matthew 11:4-6
11:1-6 John Needed Reassurance Concerning Jesus
- 11:1 Jesus concluded commanding His twelve disciples about their first mission (9:35-10:42), and when He did, He Himself departed from there to continue teaching and preaching in their cities—the cities of the Jews.
- 11:2-3 Next our attention is turned to John the Baptist—who was a prophet preparing the way for the Christ. He preached a message of repentance and the coming kingdom. One day when John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”—confirming that He believed Jesus to be the coming Christ. John baptized Jesus and afterwards God from heaven, said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”—confirming Jesus as the Son of God. Some time after those events, John was cast into prison. It was here that while John was stuck in prison that He started to doubt who Jesus really was. Therefore, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to inquire of Jesus, asking Him, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” This seems to be a weird question of uncertainty coming from John the Baptist—the one who had evidence that He was the One. Maybe we can speculate on some reasons he started doubting: (1) His Information: He “heard in the prison”—meaning that before he was in jail he saw Jesus with his own eyes and heard Him speak with his own ears, but all of his updates about Jesus now are just rumors floating around the prison or information from those coming to visit him. Maybe some of the things he heard were wrong. (2) His Condition: He was “in the prison”—meaning that maybe his suffering was causing him to doubt. Maybe he was wondering why Jesus did nothing to help him get out of jail. (3) His Hope: His job as a prophet was to prepare the way for the One and maybe John thought He picked the wrong person because of unmet expectations—not wavering of his faith but confusion.
Matthew 3:1-17; 4:12; 9:14-17; 14:1-12; John 1:29-36
- 11:4-6a Jesus answers John’s disciples by giving them the evidence that they need—the very things that they have experienced—those things which they do hear and see: (1) The blind receive their sight—there is no record in the Old or New Testament of someone performing this miracle besides Jesus. (2) The lame walk. (3) the Lepers are cleansed. (4) The deaf hear. (5) The dead are raised up—even death is under Jesus’ authority. (6) The poor have the gospel preached to them—Jesus reached out to the most needy and often neglected part of society and gave them hope. Most of these works were prophesied of the coming Christ, thus Jesus is telling John to consider the evidence—apart from the Christ who can do such great works?
Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1
- 11:6b Jesus ends His response by telling them that whoever is not “offended” by Him will be blessed—true joy. Jesus is the Christ and His works and teachings: (1) might not fit everyone’s preconceived ideas of what the Christ would be like, but in spite of these things we are to trust in Jesus and not get “tripped up” in the things that we don’t completely understand; (2) challenge the conventional authorities authority and through their pride they become appalled at Jesus and thus reject Him; (3) are too supernatural to believe and accept—many people can believe certain aspect of Jesus miracles but others are hard to believe and they see them as a stumblingblock to faith in Him. But all of these point out a problem: doubt not trust. All of Jesus miracles are equally miraculous, all of His teachings are of equal authority and all of His actions are according to the will of God—thus to reject one of them would be to reject Jesus as the Christ. Is there a contradiction in the way that we look at Jesus’ works and teachings?
11:7-11 John Was Great Because He Pointed To Jesus
- 11:7-9 John’s two disciple left and Jesus started to talk to the multitudes about John the Baptist—so they won’t have some kind of misconception about John. He basically ask the same question three times “What went ye out into the wilderness to see?”—referring to the time before John was in jail, people would go out to the wilderness to see John the Baptist, but why? Then He follows each question with a suggestion to emphasize His final point. (1) Did they go to see “a reed shaken with the wind?”—meaning was John the Baptist like an inconstant and unstable reed that shakes when the wind blows? (2) Did they go see “a man clothed in soft raiment?”—if they wanted to see that they could of went to the kings’ houses. Besides John wore a raiment of camel’s hair. (3) Did you go to see “a prophet?”—a man of God who declares the will of God. Jesus answers the question in the affirmative—yea—this was their motivation for going out to the wilderness. Prophets were rare at this time and many people would be drawn to one. Jesus continued to tell them that John was “more than a prophet”—something hard to grasp because a prophet was esteemed as one of the highest honors.
- 11:10 Jesus goes on to explain that John the Baptist is more than a prophet because He is also the fulfillment of prophecy—He was the one that would prepare the way for the coming Christ. Jesus declares John was the one of whom the Scriptures said, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” The original passage uses “me”—which referring to Jehovah, but the way that Jesus quotes the passage changes it to “thee” and adds a “thy”—which is referring to Jesus. This has two possible implications: (1) The prophesy fulfilled is that God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus—who is the Christ. In old times they would send someone to make a path for the important person to travel on, making sure the road was straight and smooth. This is exactly what John was doing spiritually. He was directly preparing the way for Jesus, something no other profit had the privilege of doing. (2) By referring to Himself in Jehovah’s place, Jesus was making Himself equal with Jehovah.
- 11:11 Of the human race, John the Baptist was the greatest of humans because of his calling to prepare the way for the Christ—but Jesus goes on to say that even the least in the “kingdom of heaven” is greater than John. He was part of the dispensation that didn’t have the full understanding and experience of Jesus—thus all believers, even the most humble of believers, is greater than John the Baptist because of the privileged position we are able to experience—to know and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Why did John’s question to Jesus seem strange?
- What are some possible reason John asked this question?
- What was Jesus’ response to John’s question?
- What does Jesus say to speak highly of John the Baptist?
- Why are believers greater than John the Baptist?