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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Matthew 11

Verse 2


When John the Baptist heard. John had been in prison about a year now. Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee had put him there because he had objected to Herod’s adulterous marriage with his brother Philip’s wife (Matthew 14:1-11). Josephus says that Machaerus, a strong fort built by Herod the Great (Antipas’ father) was the prison. It was about ten miles east of the Dead Sea. He sent some of his disciples to him. The Jews expected a political kingdom. John may wonder why Jesus does not declare himself King, overthrow Herod and the Romans, and release him from prison. [Even the apostles still thought in these terms at the time Jesus ascended back to the Father (Acts 1:6).]

Verse 3


Are you the one? John had predicted the One who would come (Matthew 3:1-12). Perhaps he hopes to prod Jesus into acting (to set up a political action.).

Verse 4


Go back and tell John. Luke adds: “At that very time Jesus healed many people. “Jesus points to his work as the answer. There may be a gentle rebuke in this, in response to John’s weakening faith.

Verse 5


The dead are raised to life. Luke mentions the raising of the widow’s son at Nain just before this. Matthew has shown the raising of the Jewish official’s daughter. The Good News is preached to the poor. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law despised the poor. The philosophers and the theologians had no message for those who could not pay for it. Jesus is unique in his treatment of the poor, the outcasts, and women. The actions of Jesus were evidence of his Messiahship. All of this is still convincing to those who will listen.

Verse 6


How happy is he. This implies that John had doubts about Christ—probably because he had not set up the political kingdom which he expected. This also implies strongly that Jesus knows best WHAT his Kingdom is.

Verse 7


What did you expect to see? John the Baptist preached in the desert, and the people came to him. Jesus emphasized the dignity of John, as if John’s being in prison, and his doubts, might cause them to devalue what he had done. John did not bend with every breath of wind that blew.

Verse 8


What did you go out to see? His clothes? He wore the very cheapest! John was raw, unsophisticated—a powerful man. God chose this type of men to be his spokesmen.

Verse 9


You saw much more than a prophet. John was a reformer—one who called the people to renewal. Also, he was the “advance man” for Jesus—which made him unique in all of history.

Verse 10


For John is the one. See note on Matthew 3:3.

Verse 11


Remember this! A paradox. John is greater than kings, statesmen, even the prophets of old. Herod would have been forgotten, had he not put John in prison. All this is true—yet Jesus says: But he who is least. This shows the importance of the Kingdom of heaven. Also (1) It implies that John was not in the Kingdom. [John lived and died under the law.] (2) It implies that no one else had entered the Kingdom at that time [since John was greater than any man who has ever lived—Jesus said]. (3) The Kingdom was yet to come, and both John and Jesus said it was “NEAR.” (4) Even the very humblest in the Kingdom would be superior to John—indicating the blessings to be found in Christ. A boy or girl in Christ is greater IN PRIVILEGES than John the Baptist!

Verse 12


From the time John preached his message. Men of violence tried to force their way in—as they would try to conquer a city. (Compare note on Mark 15:7.) They attempted to make Jesus a political King (John 6:15).

Verse 13


All the prophets and the Law of Moses. We find the meaning in Luke 16:16, in the words: “Since then the Good News about the Kingdom of God is being told.” This was the beginning of John’s work as “advance man,” preparing for the work of Christ, and the announcement that the Old Era was about to close (compare Hebrews 8:13):

Verse 14


John is Elijah. Not a reincarnation, but spiritual Elijah—the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would come before the Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).

Verse 15


Listen! Christ makes it emphatic!!!

Verse 16


Now, to what can I compare? See Matt. 7:31–35; Matthew 23:29-36. They are like children. Ancient towns had an open market place, where children would often come and play.

Verse 17


We played wedding music. A mock wedding, then a mock funeral, but the children were not happy with either, and would neither dance nor cry. Nothing could please them.

Verse 18


He fasted and drank no wine. John lived an “ascetic” life. They accused him of being under the influence of evil spirits—a fanatic.

Verse 19


The Son of Man came. Jesus lived as we do. He was not an “ascetic.” His first miracle was at a wedding-feast (John 2:1-11), and he attended Matthew’s feast (Matthew 9:10). He drank the light, harmless wine of Palestine (not like our commercial wine). A friend of tax collectors and outcasts. He loved the common people. See note on Matthew 9:12-13. Is shown to be true by its results. This is proof positive! The wise will listen to wisdom.

Verse 20


Then Jesus began to reproach. Compare Luke 10:12-15. The cities around the Lake of Galilee had received most of his attention, therefore they had the least excuse for not accepting him. It makes Jesus sad because the people did not turn from their sins (see Matthew 23:37-39). We know of many miracles in these cities: The Roman officer’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, two men with demons, a paralyzed man, the diseased woman, etc.,—were all healed. Jairus’ daughter was raised from death. Of course, this was only a small part of the work which he did. The purpose of the gospel is to persuade people to turn from sin and live a new life!

Verse 21


How terrible it will be. Chorazin has vanished. It is mentioned only here and in Luke 10:13. About two miles from the ruins of Tell-Hum (thought to be Capernaum) there are ruins now called Kerazeh which include a synagogue and columns and walls of building, which may mark the site of Chorazin. Bethsaida means “house of fish,” implying it was a fishing town. It was the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44) who were fishermen also. It is thought that the city was built just where the Jordan empties into the Lake of Galilee. Tyre and Sidon. These were rich Phoenician trading cities on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Tyre was the commercial center of the world. These cities did not have the opportunities which Chorazin and Bethsaida were given. Sackcloth and ashes. Symbolic of turning from sin.

Verse 22


God will show more mercy. This teaches: (1) There will be a Day of Judgment. (2) People will be judged in view of their opportunities. (3) The “UNPARDONABLE SIN” is rejection of Christ.

Verse 23


And as for you, Capernaum. Capernaum was a city of 30,000. It may have been on the lake shore, at the ruins called Tell-Hum. It was the Galilean home of Christ, who taught in the streets and houses, and performed many miracles there. The people were very proud of themselves, but they will be thrown down to hell because they would not turn from their sins. Within forty years time, the Romans destroyed this city. Sodom. Note the implication: (1) Sodom was destroyed for its sins; (2) The knowledge that Capernaum had been given would have caused Sodom to repent—and it would still be in existence; (3) It is sin that destroys cities and nations; (4) Modern cities and nations who deliberately live in sin and rebellion can expect to be thrown down to hell.

Verse 24


God will show more mercy to Sodom. They made better use of the opportunities they had been given. Sodom had been destroyed two thousand years before Christ, yet he speaks of a future judgment. (1) There will be a judgment after death. (2) Earthly punishment for sin does not fulfill the requirements of Divine justice. (3) The people of Sodom were not annihilated, but were alive—waiting for that Day of Judgment.

Verse 25


At that time Jesus said. At the conclusion of reproaching the towns. Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Jesus shows his humility. Four more times, in deep emotion, Jesus speaks to his Father (John 11:41; John 12:28; John 17:1; Luke 23:34). What you have hidden from. From the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Their pride and prejudice made it impossible for them to understand. See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

Verse 26


Yes, Father. It is God’s deliberate act which made the gospel what it is.

Verse 27


My Father has given me all things. This would be made fully true in the act of the Cross. See Colossians 1:15-23. No one knows. Both Jesus [the Eternal Logos] and God the Father are “unknowable” by human minds. Jesus reveals to us the nature of God—both in himself and in his teaching. And, he reveals to us how God views us in this world. Those who “learn” Christ by believing him and doing things his way, will “learn” to know the Father as well.

Verse 28


Come to me. A promise! Kings and rulers make themselves difficult to reach. Our Divine Savior says: “Come to me!” It is the Lord who speaks. He says: “Cornel” He invites those who are “tired from carrying their heavy loads.” He promises to give these rest. Millions in all ages of time since then, know that this is true. Jesus gives “peace” that is not influenced by external things and problems.

Verse 29


Take my yoke. Symbolic of placing yourself in his hands and control. We seize his promise by obediently become his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

Verse 30


The yoke I will give you is easy. His yoke is very easy and light, compared to the penalty which sin imposes. The load which Christ gives us is carried in love—and he helps us to carry it. (See Romans 8:26-28; 1 Corinthians 10:13.) EVERYONE MAY COME!!!

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 11". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.