Matthew 11:2-15

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

JESUS’ EULOGY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

INTRODUCTION:

 

So far in Matthew, we have seen the Introduction of the King (1:1 - 4:11), which included His genealogy (1:1-17), His conception and birth (1:18-25), His visit by the wise men (2:1-12), His flight into Egypt and His return from Egypt (2:13-23), His forerunner, John the Baptist (3:1-12), His baptism (3:13-17), and His temptation (4:1-11).

 

We have also seen the demands of the King which included the narrative about Jesus (4:12-25) and the Sermon on the Mount (5:1 - 7:27) followed by the concluding statement, And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine (7:28).

 

In addition, we have seen the deeds of the King which included the narrative about Jesus (8:1 - 9:38) and the commission of the twelve (10:1-42) followed by the concluding statement, And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence (11:1).

 

In this message we move on to the program of the King (11:2 - 13:53) which includes a narrative about Jesus (11:2 - 12:50) and a discourse by Jesus on the parables of the kingdom of heaven (13:1-52) followed by the concluding statement, And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence (13:53).

 

The narrative about Jesus in the program of the King includes His eulogy of John the Baptist, His upbraiding of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, His new message of personal discipleship, His Lordship over the Sabbath, His healing on the Sabbath of a man with a withered hand, His healing of the multitudes, His healing of a blind and dumb demoniac and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, His statement of the sign of the Prophet Jonah, His statement of the sign of the Queen of the South, His statement of the worthlessness of self-reformation, and His statement of new relationships.

 

John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus who asked Him if He were the Messiah or if they should be looking for someone else.

 

    I.     JOHN THE BAPTIST’S QUESTION FOR JESUS – 11:2-3

 

Matthew 11:2-3 – (2) Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, (3) And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

 

Now when John had heard suggests now after John heard.

 

In the prison (or in the jail) indicates where John the Baptist was when he heard about the works of Christ, literally the works of the Christ (or the works of the Messiah).

 

He sent two of his disciples, and it is apparent from the context that John sent these two disciples to Jesus.

 

Matthew 11:3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

 

And said unto him means that John the Baptist said this unto Jesus (through the two disciples He sent to Jesus).

 

What he said is, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

 

Art thou he that should come? is are you the one who is coming? It means, Are you the Messiah?

 

Thou (i.e. You) is emphatic.

 

Or do we look for another? suggests are we looking for someone else?

 

  II.     JESUS’ ANSWER FOR JOHN THE BAPTIST – 11:4-6

 

Jesus answers John’s question in verses 4-6. In verse 5 Jesus lists reasons that He is indeed the Messiah. In concluding His answer to John’s disciples, Jesus indicates that the one who does not trip over Him but believes that He is the Messiah is blessed.

 

Matthew 11:4-6 – (4) Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: (5) The blind receive their sight, 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, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

 

Jesus answered and said to them introduces Jesus’ answer to John’s two disciples.

 

Go suggests go back to John.

 

And shew John is and announce to John or tell John.

 

What John’s disciples are to tell John is those things which ye do hear and see, i.e. what things you are hearing and seeing.

 

These things are listed in the next verse.

 

Matthew 11:5 The blind receive their sight, 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.

 

These things listed in verse 5 demonstrate that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

 

The blind receive their sight is blind ones are regaining sight.

 

The lame walk is lame ones (or crippled ones) are walking around.

 

The lepers are cleansed is lepers are being cleansed (or lepers are being made clean).

 

The deaf hear is deaf ones are hearing.

 

The dead are raised up is dead ones are being raised up.

 

And the poor have the gospel preached to them is and poor ones are having the gospel (or good news) preached (to them).

 

All of these things were prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1.

 

Isaiah 35:5-6 – (5) Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. (6) Then shall the lame man leap as an hart [i.e. like a deer], and the tongue of the dumb sing [i.e. those who cannot speak will sing for joy]: for in the wilderness shall waters break out [i.e. burst forth, gush forth], and streams in the desert.

 

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek [i.e. the poor]; 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.

 

John, as well as his disciples, would have been familiar with the prophecies regarding the Messiah and would recognize that Jesus was claiming to be the One Who should come (i.e. the promised Messiah) and that they did not need to look for someone else.

 

Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

 

Verse 6 concludes Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples regarding His being the promised Messiah.

 

The one who does not trip over Him but believes that He is the Messiah is blessed.

 

And blessed is and happy, and fortunate, or and privileged, especially and a privileged recipient of divine favor.

 

Is indicates that this is a timeless truth, something which is always true under all circumstances.

 

He, i.e. whosoever shall not be offended in me, is whoever will not be caused to sin (or everyone who) will not be led into sin (by refusing to believe in Jesus) (is a privileged recipient of divine favor).

 

 III.     JESUS’ PRAISE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST AND HIS MINISTRY – 11:7-15

 

Beginning in verse 7 and continuing through verse 15 Jesus praises John the Baptist and his ministry.

 

John was not a reed shaken with the wind, nor was He living in luxury as part of a ruling family. John was indeed not only a prophet but even more than a prophet because he was the forerunner of the Messiah. According to Jesus, no human being has ever lived who was greater than John the Baptist, but everyone in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. During the ministry of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven was violently resisted and those resisting it sought forcefully to establish their own rule rather than heaven’s rule. The Old Testament prophets as well as the law had prophesied of the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom; and if the Jewish people will receive the kingdom offered by both John the Baptist and Jesus, John the Baptist would qualify as the Elijah who was prophesied as coming before the . . . great and dreadful day of the LORD. Whoever who has ears to hear must listen.

 

Matthew 11:7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

 

Beginning in verse 7 and continuing through verse 15 Jesus praises John the Baptist and his ministry.

 

John was not a reed shaken with the wind.

 

And as they departed suggests while they (i.e. while John’s two disciples) were going.

 

Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John introduces what Jesus says to the crowds in verses 7-15 about John the Baptist.

 

What went ye out into the wilderness to see? suggests what did you go out into the desert to observe?

 

Was it a reed shaken with the wind? John the Baptist was not a reed which would be driven to and fro by the wind. He did not change with the wind like a typical politician does today.

 

No, this is not the reason the multitudes traveled into the desert to see John the Baptist.

 

Matthew 11:8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

 

In praising John the Baptist, Jesus reminds His listeners that John was not dressed in luxurious clothing.

 

But what introduces a question similar to the one asked in verse 7. It suggests what then and implies if the answer is no, what then?

 

Went ye out for to see? suggests What then did you go out to see?

 

The first question is answered with a second question: A man clothed in soft raiment? (Did you go out to see) a person dressed in soft clothing? No, you didn’t.

 

Soft raiment suggests luxurious clothing which only the very rich could afford.

 

Behold is used to gain the listener’s or reader’s attention.

 

They that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses suggests that soft clothing is expected of royalty in contrast to John the Baptist’s attire which was camel’s hair.

 

Matthew 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat [i.e. his food] was locusts and wild honey.

 

Matthew 11:9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

 

But what went ye out for to see? is repeated from verse 8. It suggests, But what did you go out into the desert to observe?

 

Did you go out to observe a prophet? A prophet is someone who receives divine revelation directly from God and communicates it to others.

 

Yea is yes. John was indeed a prophet.

 

I say unto you is I am saying to you, I am declaring to you, or I am telling you.

 

And more than a prophet indicates that John was also something else in addition to his being a prophet.

 

He differed from other prophets in one particular which is explained in verse 10.

 

Matthew 11:10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

 

For this is he of whom it is written is for this is (he) concerning whom (or about whom) it has been written.

 

What has been written is then quoted in the rest of this verse. John the Baptist is the one referred to by this quotation from Malachi 3:1 .

 

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

 

Behold is again used to gain the reader’s attention.

 

I refers to the LORD of hosts. In this verse it refers to God the Father.

 

Send is am sending.

 

My messenger refers to John the Baptist, and before thy face refers to Jesus, the Messiah.

 

Inasmuch as someone’s face goes with him wherever he goes, before thy face suggests before You.

 

Which is who and refers to John the Baptist.

 

Shall prepare thy way before thee means that John the Baptist will be the forerunner of the Messiah.

 

He would go before Jesus and announce Jesus’ actual arrival.

 

Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

 

According to Jesus, no human being has ever lived who was greater than John the Baptist, but everyone in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.

 

Verily I say unto you is Truly I am saying to you or I am solemnly declaring to you. What Jesus was saying is recorded in the rest of this verse.

 

Among them that are born of women is among the ones born of women. Inasmuch as everyone except Adam and Eve has had a birth mother, every human being is included in the group of those who are born of women.

 

There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist speaks of John the Baptist’s unique privilege of being the forerunner of the Messiah.

 

Notwithstanding is the word ordinarily translated but when introducing a mild contrast and is understood in this sense in this verse.

 

As great as John’s privilege of being the forerunner of the Messiah was, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he indicates that being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven is an even greater privilege than announcing its arrival.

 

He that is least in the kingdom of heaven refers to the lowest ranking citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

 

This person has a greater privilege than he, i.e. than John the Baptist had as the forerunner of the Messiah.

 

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

 

During the ministry of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven was violently resisted and those resisting it sought forcefully to establish their own rule rather than heaven’s rule.

 

From the days of John the Baptist until now indicates the time beginning with John the Baptist’s announcement that the kingdom of heaven was near until the day Jesus spoke these words.

 

The days of John the Baptist refer to the time of John’s ministry. This period of time immediately preceded the beginning of Christ’s ministry by about six months.

 

Until now suggests up to the present time.

 

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence suggests the kingdom of heaven is being violently treated or the kingdom of heaven is being oppressed.

 

And the violent take it by force suggests and violent ones are taking it (or seizing it) by force.

 

It suggests that preaching that the kingdom of heaven is at hand touched off a violent reaction against it and that some were seeking to seize it in order to destroy it.

 

Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

 

The Old Testament prophets as well as the law had prophesied about the coming of the Messiah and of His kingdom, which means that it was prophesied throughout the Old Testament Scriptures that the Messiah would come.

 

John was different from the rest of the prophets in that he was also the forerunner of the Messiah and was able to announce that all the prophecies found in the Old Testament referring to the first coming of Christ had been fulfilled.

 

Matthew 11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

 

According to Jesus, if the Jewish people will receive the kingdom of heaven offered by both John the Baptist and Jesus, John the Baptist would qualify as being the Elijah who was prophesied to come before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

 

If ye will receive it is the condition in a conditional statement whose structure indicates that for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true.

 

The conclusion of the conditional statement is, This is Elias, which was for to come.

 

If is understood in the sense of assuming that.

 

If ye will receive it is if you (Jews) are willing to receive (it), i.e. assuming that you (Jews) are willing to receive the kingdom of heaven.

 

If the condition is true, then the conclusion will also be true.

 

However, it turns out that the Jewish leaders were not willing to receive the kingdom of heaven offered by Jesus. Therefore, the conclusion remains unfulfilled.

 

This, which refers to John the Baptist, is he.

 

This is Elias means this is Elijah.

 

Its reference is to Malachi 4:5 ,

 

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

 

John the Baptist was not actually Elijah.

 

He stated in John 1:21 that he was not Elijah.

 

John 1:21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

 

Luke 1:17 , however, states,

 

Luke 1:17 And he [i.e. John the Baptist] shall go before him [i.e. before the Lord their God, a reference to Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elias [i.e. of Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

 

If the Jews had received the kingdom of heaven which had been offered to them, John the Baptist would have qualified as the Elijah who should come before the Lord.

 

Which was for to come is the one who is about to come.

 

Inasmuch as the condition proved to be false because the Jewish people rejected the kingdom, the conclusion of the conditional statement is also false: John the Baptist is not Elijah that should come.

 

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

According to verse 15 the one who has ears to hear must listen. The message Jesus has delivered is important; so, the hearers need to act on it. If John is the forerunner of the Messiah, then Jesus must be the Messiah; and they need to receive Him.

CONCLUSION:

 

Remember what verse 6 says that everyone who will not be led into sin (by refusing to believe in Jesus) (is a privileged recipient of divine favor). It means that if you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you are a privileged recipient of divine favor.

 

It raises the question, “Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?”

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

The kingdom of heaven speaks of the reign of the God of heaven in your life. Have you surrendered your life to the Lord to live for Him, and are you living for Him?

 

Romans 12:1-21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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