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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Matthew 11



Other Authors
Verses 1-30

THE SENDING OUT of the twelve did not mean that the Lord suspended His personal labours, as the first verse shows; and all this activity stirred up John in his prison. We can well imagine that he expected the great Personage, whom he had announced, to do something on his behalf; yet here He was, delivering all kinds of unworthy folk from their diseases and troubles, and apparently neglecting His forerunner. Tested thus, John’s faith wavered a little. The Lord’s answer to John took the form of further testimony to His own gracious activities, showing that He was indeed fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1; and happy was he who was not stumbled by His humiliation and the absence of the outward glory that will characterize His second advent.

Then Jesus bore witness to John. No oscillating reed nor man of luxury was he; but more than a prophet, even the messenger predicted by Malachi, who should prepare the way of the Lord. Moreover John was the “Elijah” of the first advent. and he marked the end of an epoch. The dispensation of law and prophets ran up to him, and from his day onward the kingdom of heaven was open, if there was the “violence” or vigour of faith to gain an entrance. When the kingdom arrives visibly, there will not be the same need for such vigour of faith. All this showed how great a man John was, nevertheless the least inside the kingdom would have a position greater than this great man, who prepared the way but did not live to enter himself. John’s moral greatness was unsurpassed, though many of much less moral weight would be greater as to outward position.

From speaking of John, his greatness and the position he had been given as regards his ministry, the Lord passed to deal with the indifference of the people. They had listened to the forceful preaching of John, and now had heard the Lord and seen His works of power; yet neither one nor the other had really affected them.

They were like petulant children who would not be persuaded to join in the play. There had been a note of severity in John’s ministry, but they showed no sign of lamenting in repentance: Jesus had come full of grace and of the joy of deliverance, yet they manifested no real signs of gladness. Instead they discovered ways of discrediting both.

The taunt they flung at John was a bare-faced lie, whilst their cry against the Lord had in it some element of truth, for He was in the highest sense “a Friend of publicans and sinners.” They meant it however in the lowest possible sense; for when an adversary throws out accusations in order to discredit, he usually finds half a truth more serviceable than a downright falsehood. So long as we walk in obedience with a good conscience, we need not fear the mud which adversaries love to sling. John, amongst the greatest of prophets, and the Son of Man Himself had to endure it. Those who were the children of wisdom were not taken in by these slanders. They justified wisdom, and thereby condemned the adversaries. The same fact was stated in other words when Jesus said, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep... My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:26, John 10:27).

At this point we find the Lord accepting the fact that the cities of Galilee, where most of His mighty works had been done, had definitely refused Him. There had been rendered to them such a testimony as Tyre and Sidon, and the land of Sodom, had never had. Now, the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility, and the severer the judgment, when the privilege is despised and the responsibility broken. A sad fate lay in store for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Their inhabitants at that time have to face the day of judgment, and the very cities themselves have been so obliterated, that their sites have been a matter of argument until today. They had rejected “Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1), and consequently the kingdom as vested in Him.

But at that moment of crisis Jesus reposed upon the purpose of the Father and upon the perfection of His ways—the ways by which His purpose is to be reached. The people whose indifference the Lord had been deploring were just “the wise and prudent” according to worldly standards; but then there were the “babes,” and to these, not those, the Father had revealed the things of all importance at that moment. This was the way that He was pleased to take, and Jesus accepted it with thanksgiving. This ever has been God’s way, and is God’s way today, as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:21-31. God’s purpose will not fail. The kingdom as presented in Christ was about to be rejected: God will establish the kingdom in another way altogether, even while we wait for the establishment of it in manifested power and glory. There will be found those who come under the yoke of the Son, and thus they will enjoy the rest of the kingdom in their souls.

The purpose of God is that all things shall rest in the hands of the Son. To this end all things have already been delivered to Him. In the day to come we shall see Him dispose of all things in mighty, discriminating judgment: today He is dispensing the knowledge of the Father. The Son is so truly God, that there are in Him unfathomable depths, known only to the Father. The Father is beyond all human knowledge, but the Son knows Him, and has come forth as His great Revealer. It is as the Revealer of the Father that He says, “Come unto Me... and I will give you rest.” He was at rest in the knowledge of the Father, of His love, His purpose, His ways; and into that rest He conducts those who come to Him.

His invitation was specially addressed to “all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” that is, those who were sincerely and piously attempting to keep the law, which was as Peter said, “a yoke... which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:1-41 : The 10). more sincere, the more heavy laden they must have been, beneath that yoke. So the Lord’s words were addressed to “wisdom’s children,” to the “babes;” in other words, to the godly remnant in the midst of the unbelieving mass of the people. They might now exchange the burdensome yoke of the law for the light and easy yoke of Christ. They would learn of Him things that the law could never teach them.

And moreover He would teach them in a new way. He exemplified the things that He taught. Meekness and lowliness of heart is needed if the subject place is to be taken and maintained; and these things were perfectly seen in Him. He was the Son, “yet learned He obedience” and that obedience having been carried unto death, He has “become the Author of eternal Salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 5:9). In our Gospel we see the obedient One calling us into obedience to Himself, an obedience which is not burdensome and which leads into rest. “Rest for your souls” was proposed as the result of a faithful walk in the “old paths” of the law (see Jeremiah 6:16), but that rest was never attained by men. The only way to reach it was that made known by the Son, who had come to reveal the Father. The Father must be known if His purpose was to be achieved.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Matthew 11:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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