About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 11
Jesus told the Twelve about the trip they were to take Matthew tells us
that He went and preached in the towns of
verse 2 we note that John the Baptist was in prison.
He was in prison because he challenged Herod about having his
brother Philip’s wife.
while in prison heard all about Jesus.
John obviously had visitors while he was in the dungeon of prison.
They told him about Jesus. Now
John saw the Spirit come upon Jesus at His baptism.
At that point John knew that Jesus was the Messiah.
Yet for some reason it appears he might have some doubt while he
was in prison. So John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was
really the Messiah or not. John was human.
Jesus speaks well of John in the verses to come, yet still John
needed some extra confirmation.
exact question that the disciples of John asks is,
“are you the one that was to come, or should we expect someone
question is interesting to me. They
didn’t ask “are you the one that is to come’, as in present or
future tense. The question
was, “are you the one who was to come” – was as in past tense.
To me just by asking the question in the past tense suggests that
John really does believe, but just needs a little extra confirmation.
verse 4 Jesus tells John’s disciples to go back to John and tell him
what you see and hear. What
these people see and hear should be the proof of who He is.
And what they saw is found in the following verses.
They saw blind people see, lepers healed, lame walk, the deaf hear,
and the dead raised. Jesus goes on to say that the good news is preached
to the poor.
tend to think that the word “poor” means financially poor.
Some might think it’s “poor in spirit”, and that might well
be, but the words “in spirit is not in the text.
goes on to say that “blessed is the man who does not fall away on
account of me”. The word
“fall away” in the Greek means to “be trapped”.
Some have fallen away on account of Jesus in times of persecution.
They feel trapped between Jesus and those whom they are being
persecuted by and they give into their persecutors.
verse 7 we see that John’s disciples are leaving and as they leave Jesus
begins to speak to the crowd. Once
again we see the presence of the crowd that is always following Jesus.
Even when asked a personal question as John’s disciples did, the
crowd was listening in to see what Jesus was saying, and now Jesus
continues the conversation with this crowd about John.
verses 7 and 8 Jesus asked this crowd why they went out into the desert to
see John. What were they
expecting to see? Were they
expecting to see a reed blown in the wind or a man dressed in fine
learn lots from what Jesus says of John here.
Reeds grew along the shores of the
fine clothes, we know that John did not dress as someone well off and
famous. Did the crowds expect to see someone well off like the Pharisees
and rulers of
the last half of verse 8 Jesus said that those who dress in fine clothes
live in king’s palaces. Jesus
is making a statement about John here but it’s a statement with farther
reaching implications. Jesus
Himself did not live in a king’s palace as we know, so this tells us how
He dressed. Dressing in the
best of clothes as those in king’s palaces means very little to Jesus,
which is something for the modern church to think about.
Jesus is saying here is that there is more to the stature of a man than
his appearance. The fact that
John did not get bent over in the wind was more important than the clothes
he was dressed in.
verse 9 Jesus asked the crowd again who they expected to see in the
desert. Did they expect to see
a prophet? “Yes”, Jesus
said, a prophet John was, yet he was more than a prophet.
quotes from Mal. 3:1 that says, “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you”.
Yes John was considered a prophet as Jesus thought him to be.
Yet beyond his prophetic ministry John had a ministry that no one
else in history has had and that is the one spoken of in the prophets of
the Old Testament who would prepare the way for the Messiah.
This is the one that would come in the spirit of Elijah as all Jews
verse 11 Jesus plainly states that there has never been anyone among men
greater than John the Baptist. His
greatness came through his association with Jesus.
John was Jesus’ cousin, but being His cousin didn’t make him
great. Preparing the way for
Jesus made him great.
the last half of verse 11 Jesus says that “he that is least in the
we serve as Jesus served, in one sense of the word we are greater than
John. Jesus Himself is greater
than John because in another sense of the word He is the least in the
Kingdom because He served us
more than anyone.
don’t think Jesus is contradicting Himself here by saying John is the
greatest but we can be greater. John
is the greatest in one respect while others can be great in another
12 has two major interpretations depending on how you translate the Greek
into English. The NIV reads
as, “from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven
has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it”.
The words “from the days of John the Baptist” mean from the day
John started his ministry.
rest of the verse is the hard part to understand.
As the NIV puts it, it would appear that the
KJV translates this slightly different that gives it a different meaning.
It reads, “…the Kingdom
of the above translations are possible.
That is to say, it is hard to translate this verse into English and
there are two possible ways of dong so, which can be seen in the NIV and
the KJV. These two
translations are very different, and I doubt if both can be right.
The question thus arises, “how do we know which way of thinking
look at both of these interpretations and in light of the rest of
Scripture and you ask yourself which one seems to fit best in respect to
all of what the Bible says on this subject.
need to ask, “during the time period that Jesus is speaking of, what
happened”? Did the
my personal opinion that Jesus was saying that God’s Kingdom was being
forcefully attacked, and not that people were forcing their way into it.
Many of those of the Pentecostal persuasion and the hyper-faith
movement tend to like the idea that God’s Kingdom is forcefully
advancing. Many of these
teachers who promote this thinking are the macho-man type of person who
allow their personalities to influence interpret this verse, something
that is bad hermeneutics. One mistake that many of us make in interpreting
the Bible is to interpret based on our personality type.
The quiet person emphasizes Jesus meekness while the more forceful
person emphasizes Jesus over turning the money changers tables.
We should try our best not to allow outside things interpret what
the Bible says.
13 reads, “for all the Law and the Prophets prophesied until John”.
These words tend to suggest that at the time of John’s appearing
the Law and Prophets were in effect prophesying, but once John came things
changed. John himself
prophesied of Jesus and the time of Law and prophets ended.
We do know that the Law was nailed to the cross with Jesus and that
the Prophets prophesied about Jesus, so it only makes sense that the days
of John were transitional. He
was the link from the past into the future, the link from the Old
Testament into the New Testament. John
was the last great Old Testament prophet.
New Testament prophets take on somewhat of a different roll in the
verse 14 Jesus says that if those listening “were willing to accept it
John was the Elijah who was to come”.
As stated earlier, the Jews understood from the Prophets that
someone would come in the spirit of Elijah, that is, someone like Elijah
would come and prepare the way for the Messiah.
Jesus was saying that John was this man, implying that He Himself
was the Messiah.
says “if you can accept it”. He
knew well that many would have a hard time accepting that John was the one
who would come to prepare the way for the Messiah, especially because he
was now in prison. It would
have been hard for some to accept this because if they did, they’d have
to accept that Jesus was the Messiah because that was John’s message.
15 says that “he that has ears let him hear”.
We see this phrase a lot in the New Testament, especially in the
book of Revelation. The phrase
simply points out that if you have ears, which most of us do, then pay
attention and understand what your ears hear. Our problem is that we hear
God’s word with our ears, but we really don’t hear with our minds and
with our hearts. There’s two
ways of hearing. We need to
hear in both ways.
verses 16 and 17 Jesus is comparing the generation of Jews to whom He has
come to with a piper and a singer. It
was the custom of children in those days to play two particular games that
Pipers would play their instruments at parties and people would
rejoice because of the music. Also
professional mourners would mourn at funerals along with those at the
is saying that like litter children who play the part of a piper and the
mourner, they expect those they are playing with to respond to the piping
and the mourning, but they didn’t. Jesus
is like these children in that he has brought forth something to the
18 begins with the word “for” which means this verse will help explain
what Jesus just said. This
verse says that John didn’t come eating and drinking. We know the things
that John ate didn’t amount to much.
He was the one singing the dirge, or as in the kids game, he was
the one mourning. Though he
mourned, he was seen as one who had a demon.
verse 19 Jesus says that the Son of Man came both eating and drinking and
He’s called a glutton and a drunkard.
Obviously what Jesus was drinking was alcoholic in nature or else
He would not have been called a drunkard who ate and drank with sinners
and tax collectors. The word
sinners refers to immoral people like prostitutes.
Jesus was the piper as in the children’s game.
So John mourned and Jesus piped, but few responded to them.
last part of verse 19 says that “wisdom is proved right by her
actions”. One who is wise
can be seen as wise by the result of what he does.
As the modern saying puts it, “the proof is in the pudding”.
Jesus association with tax collectors and sinners was seen as bad,
yet the proof that is was actually good is in the results when these
people’s lives were turned around by His presence.
verse 20 we note that Jesus “denounced” the cities in which He did
many miracles because they did not repent, even though all these miracles
took place in front of their very eyes.
verse 21 Jesus points out two particular cities, Korazin and Bethsaida. He compares these two cites
thing we should understand here is that the purpose of Jesus’ miracles
was not just to intrigue people and make them better, but to lead them to
repentance. This shows us the
importance of miracles, and if repentance isn’t in the mind of the one
wanting a miracle, there might not be a miracle for him.
uses the word “woe” to begin His warning against these two cities.
This word is often used in the Book of Revelation concerning the
enemies of God who will receive the punishment and the wrath of God.
When Jesus uses the word “woe’, serious things will happen and
they will not be pleasant.
verse 22 Jesus says that it will be more bearable for
verse 23 and 24 Jesus points to the city of
this we learn that these cites will be judged more harshly than the Old
Testament cities. There is
thus degrees in judgment between those of the Old Testament and those of
the New Testament. To the
extent that people have had the opportunity to hear and see the gospel of
Jesus will determine the outcome of their judgment and it is clear that
New Testament people will be judged much more severely than Old Testament
verses 25 and 26 Jesus praises His Father who He also calls Lord for
“hiding these things from the wise and learned and revealing them to
little children”. He
goes on to say that it was God’s “good pleasure to do so”, meaning
it was God’s plan and desire to hide His truth from the learned and
reveal it to the unlearned.
words “these things” refers back to the miracles that Jesus spoke
about in the last section. Even though the wise and learned men of
thus note then anything done by our Lord can only be understood by
revelation. And God did reveal
the meaning to these miracles to the “little children” which I believe
in context means unlearned men.
might wonder why God would hide this understanding from the Jewish
leadership. Well, they
persistently refused to hear the prophets of old and God was simply tired
of this. It’s similar to God
hardening Pharaoh’s heart in Old Testament times.
Pharaoh had already chosen to harden his own heart.
God just hardened it a bit more.
So in reality it was Pharaoh’s choice to have a hard heart, and
the same with the Jewish leadership in Jesus’ day.
verse 27 Jesus says something important.
He says that “all things have been committed” to Him by His
Father. This means that God
the Father has placed all things under the authority of Jesus.
We see this again in the Great Commission when Jesus says, “all
authority has been given unto me…” (Matt. 28:16 - 20)
If you read 1 Cor. 15 you’ll note that when all things are put
under Jesus’ feet then He’ll hand all things back over to the Father,
but until then, Jesus is the centre of all there is and it’s by the
Father’s choice. I believe
this to be important because Christians often speak of God to the
exclusion of Jesus. But here
we learn that God has put Jesus in charge of everything.
If this is so, we should be speaking of Him more than we do.
continues in verse 27 to say that no one knows the Son except the Father
and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son
chooses to reveal Him. This is
simple common sense. No one
can know Father and Son as well as Father and Son knows each other.
is also important to understand as Jesus says here that no one can know
the Father unless He, Jesus, reveals the Father to him.
Knowing Father or Son comes only through special revelation by
Jesus and His Spirit. Beyond
such revelation, it is impossible to know God.
verse 28 we see the comforting words of Jesus when He says, “come to me
all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
I’m sure many of the ordinary people were weary and burdened
about many things, about work, about living, about Roman domination, and
about all sorts of things. The rest that Jesus is speaking of here is
inner rest, or inner peace. As
we’ve seen in the last chapter, Jesus doesn’t guarantee outward peace,
not even in our own family, but He does guarantee an inner peace and rest
that comes through trusting Him. That is really what the Sabbath command
in the Old Testament is all about. A
careful study of Heb. 4 tells us as we come to Jesus in faith we enter our
verse 29 Jesus says “take my “yoke” upon you”.
The word yoke refers to the word “burden” in the last verse.
The yoke was placed on the oxen to carry something that we call a
burden. Jesus says that we do
have a burden to carry that is from Him.
We aren’t burdenless after coming to Him. He has something for us
to do. In verse 30 Jesus says that His “yoke is easy and His burden is
light”. So although He does
give us a burden, it’s nothing like the burden we receive from the
in verse 29 Jesus says to take His yoke and learn from Him because He is
gentle and humble. If we come
to Jesus He will be gentle and humble towards us, but if we don’t come
to Him but reject Him we will see another side of Jesus that is not so
gentle and that side is clearly seen in the Book of Revelation.