The Mission of the King Matthew 10:1-16:12, cont’d.
Matthew 11:2-This is the first time that the term “Christ” has been used of Jesus since 1:18…which describes His birth. The term “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah”.
“The life and character of Jesus Christ,” says Dr. Schaff, “is the holy of holies in the history of the world.”
NAME.-The name Jesus signifies saviour. It is the Greek form of JEHOSHUA (Joshua.) The name Christ signifies anointed. Jesus was both priest and king. Among the Jews priests were anointed, as their inauguration to their office (1 Chronicles 16:22). In the New Testament the name Christ is used as equivalent to the Hebrew Messiah (anointed) (John 1:41) the name given to the long‐promised Prophet and King whom the Jews had been taught by their prophets to expect (Matthew 11:3; Acts 19:4). The use of this name, as applied to the Lord, has always a reference to the promises of the prophets. The name of Jesus is the proper name of our Lord, and that of Christ is added to identify him with the promised Messiah. Other names are sometimes added to the names Jesus Christ, thus, “Lord,” “a king,” “King of Israel,” “Emmanuel,” “Son of David,” “chosen of God.”
(Smith’s Bible Dictionary, http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=BT0002353)
Matthew 11:3-John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the “Expected One”…this term is a reference to the Messiah (Psalm 118:26). In response, Jesus tells the disciples of John to tell him what they had heard and seen about the ministry of Jesus. Specifically, they were to tell him of six aspects: 1.-the blind receive sight; 2.-the lame walk; 3.-the lepers are cleansed; 4.-the deaf hear; 5.-the dead are raised to life; 6.-the poor have heard the Gospel preached. He then says that those who understand who He is are blessed. These six aspects that Jesus mentions were characteristics that were commonly attributed to the long-awaited Messiah. They come from Isaiah 35:5-6 and Isaiah 61:1-3…both are prophetic passages concerning the Messiah. Isaiah was the same prophet that John referred to when explaining his own ministry (Isaiah 40:3).
Matthew 11:10-Jesus refers to Malachi 3:1 to describe the ministry of John. In doing so, He has identified John as the one that God will send to prepare the way for the Messiah…Jesus, Himself. Jesus tells them that John is the most important prophet that has ever lived…because he is the one who is announcing that the Messiah has come. And, that he is greater than anyone who had ever been born. Jesus identified John with the Old Testament covenant. And John was the greatest of all of that age, that dispensation. However, the new covenant had arrived (Jesus)…and those that are the very least in this covenant are greater than John. Jesus is making it clear that the new covenant of grace far exceeds the old covenant of law.
Just as the disciples of John the Baptist were about to leave, Jesus begins to make several comments about him. They stop for a moment more, and listen intently. Not only had Jesus verified John’s hopes in Him as the Messiah…but now He gives John an enormous compliment. Imagine, John has been in Herod’s dark, dank prison for over a year. During that time his faith had struggled. Was he right about Jesus? Was He the Messiah? Jesus had settled those struggles by assuring John that he had been right in his determination concerning His being the Messiah. But Jesus does something more. Not only does He verify Who He is…but He verifies who John is. And in so doing…John’s faith is restored. Faith. John is going to need faith only a short time later. Herod, under pressure from his wife, would send his executioner to John’s cell. John would realize that in just moments his life would end. Faith. How disappointing it would have been to end life with questions, uncertainties, doubts. Faith. But Jesus, in an incredible act of love, had reassured this great man of God that he had been right, he had interpreted the prophets correctly…he had been the one who had prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. Faith. At that moment, it was his faith in Jesus that would not just sustain him…but would carry him upward…even as he faced death. For, when the executioner’s sword cut though his neck…as his head would fall to the floor…his spirit would soar to Heaven. Faith. In our most dire moments…if we will but listen…we too will hear the voice of God speak to us and say, “Well, done, you’ve been a good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!” Faith.
Matthew 11:14-Jesus does not mean that John is literally the same man as Elijah. But, that John is fulfilling the prophetic role that Elijah was a type, or picture of (Malachi 3:1; 4:5; Matthew 17:9-13).
Matthew 11:13-19-Jesus tells the people to listen closely to what He is saying and give it careful consideration. However, He knows that many of them will never be satisfied. They were not satisfied with the message and life of John (he lived an extremely disciplined life as a Nazarite, Numbers 6:1-8; Luke 1:15). And now, He knows, that they will not be satisfied with His life and message of grace, acceptance, and forgiveness…they would call Him a “friend of tax-gatherers and sinners”…meaning that He associated with the wrong people (people on the opposite end of the social spectrum from John). And yet, He knows that in time, the truth will be revealed. These verses sound like a critique of people today…they are never satisfied with what God has to say…no matter if it were to involve singing and dancing, or darkness and gloom…from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Matthew 11:20-24-Jesus then chastises the people for not repenting…no matter what message they heard. He compares three Jewish cities (Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum) to three pagan cities (Tyre, Sidon, Sodom) and says that if the pagan cities had witnessed the miracles that He performed they would have recognized Who he was and would have repented of their sins. And here are three Jewish cities that He has worked countless miracles in and they are still undecided. Because they have had the benefit of having the prophets of God, and the pagan cities have not, they will have a greater degree of accountability for their denial of Jesus when they stand before God in judgment.
Matthew 11:25-30-Jesus says that those who have already made up their minds will not receive Him. But those whose hearts are open to learning, like a baby, will receive the revelation of Him that God gives them. Verse 27 tells us that the only way to know God, the Father…is through God, the Son. And, the way to come to Jesus is to stop striving by our own will and will-power (v. 25-the wise and intelligent), but to come to Him and “rest” (v. 25-like babes). “Rest” was a prominent theme in the OT…rest for Israel from their wanderings, rest in the Promised Land, rest under the reign of David, rest upon the return from Babylon. Ultimately, rest represented life in the Kingdom, under the King. Being yoked, joined to the Law, was a difficult task…being yoked to Jesus allows Him to fulfill the task for you…and is easy. (Ryrie) –“This great invitation, extended to all, is threefold: (1) to come and receive salvation; (2) to learn in discipleship; and (3) to serve in yoke with the Lord. The yoke involves instruction under discipline. Yet, in contrast of the teaching of the scribes, Jesus’ yoke is easy.”
Prayer: Father, don’t let religion get in the way of my knowing You. Many of the Jews were so steeped, so entrenched in their religion…that when Jesus came, they didn’t recognize Him. Please give me eyes to see and ears to hear. If there is anything that I am doing (any religious activity or doctrinal teaching) that is incorrect…please reveal it to me and help me to discontinue it…no matter what it may cost me.