Chapter 11 and 12 is the seconds of the five records of Jesus’s interaction with the people in Matthew.
After Jesus finished His seconds of the five sermons in Matthew, which He sent His disciples for their first mission, He went forward to preach and to teach enforcement of His claims.
From this point onwards, we notice increasing oppositions of Jesus and His teachings from pharisees, priests and the scribes
There are three events in Chapter 11
John the baptist (v2-19)
The unrepentant cities (v20-24)
Rest of the weary (v25-30)
John the Baptist’s (v2-19)
Jesus Speaking to John through John’s disciples:
v2 “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”. In order to understand why John asked this question, we must place the works of Jesus into contrast with what John had said of Him before He began His public ministry.
John’s ministry is a ministry of repentance and judgement. He called the Jews to repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near (Matt 3:3). He scolded the Pharisees and Sadducees: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John was describing Jesus as a great and mighty reformer, breaking down abuse, sweeping out oppression, gathering precious things, and blasting evil things as with thunderbolts.
However all John heard when he was in prison about the ministry of Jesus was He was preaching sermons like the beatitudes on mountains, and was healing the sick and casting out demons. He seemed to be doing gentle, sweet, loving things. There is little judgement coming from Jesus’s teaching or doing, thus John was perplexed.
v4-5 Jesus’s response was a surprise to us, He told John the healings He had performed,
and then He said: ” the good news is preached to the poor”. It is a quote from Isaiah 61:1-2: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”
Luke 4:16-19 tells us that Jesus read these verses when He was preaching in the synagogue. He said: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
However He didn’t read the second part of Isaiah 61:2, which prophesied “and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” because the prophecy will only be fulfilled on Jesus’s second coming.
Jesus was telling John that before the final judgment falls, there is a mission of tenderness, grace, healing and blessing.
v6: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me.”
Jesus ended His message to John with this verse. He was telling John if you cannot perfectly understand Me, trust Me. If you cannot see how I am going to accomplish that upon which your heart is set as a passion, do not be offended, do not stumble, but Me perfectly, and you will be blessed.
Jesus speaking to the crowd about John
The crowd heard John’s question, they may be tempted to think John has failed, he is afraid and trembling. Thus Jesus told the opportunity to tell them about the Kingdom of Heaven.
First Jesus asked them three questions about John:
v7: “A reed swayed by the wind?”
v8: “A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces”
v9: “A prophets? Yes, I will you, and more than a prophet”
And then Jesus defended John by quote Malachi 3:1
v10: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you”
Matthew already quoted Isaiah 40:3 when he wrote of John the baptist ministry in chapter 3, verse 3
Jesus is quoting Malachi 3:1 to remind the crowd John is His messenger, who prepares the way for Him.
v11: John is the greatest of all men in the history of mankind until that point. He is the immediate forerunner of the Messiah, a ministry no other prophet enjoyed.
v11: “yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
John was in the light that preceded the Kingdom of Heaven, and the weakest inside knows more than John.
John only anticipated the Kingdom, whereas participants will be in the kingdom, thus greater than John.
John is the greatest of all natural born human. And the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John, Jesus is telling us how precious and blessed for those who are in His Kingdom!
Notes take in Luke 13:28, Jesus said: “… when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” All true prophets of God will be in the Kingdom of God. John the baptist is last prophet of the Old Testament, so he will surely be in the Kingdom of God. The question is whether the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are referring to the same Kingdom.
v12: ““From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” (NASB)
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). But how to do take the Kingdom of Heaven? It is by violence. Not violence to others, but to ourselves.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matt 16:24)
but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:27)
v14: “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come”
John himself said he was not Elijah (John 1:21), so if John and Jesus had different opinion of who John was?
Jesus said if the crowds are willing to accept the what He had just taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven, John would fulfill the prophecy about Elijah.
However since the crowds did not believe in the Lord, John did not fully fulfill all the prophecies about Elijah. John fulfilled Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1, which are prophecies about the Messiah’s forerunner.
John didn’t fulfill Malachi 4:5-6, that prophecy will fulfill during the second coming of the Lord. Perhaps one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 would be Elijah, who will fulfill Malachi 4:5-6
This is a reference to Jews children playing the games of wedding and funeral on the streets. The children saw what adults did in wedding and funeral, and acted how the scenes on the streets.
“We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn” is referring to John was proclaiming judgment on the Jews, but they didn’t response.
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance” is referring to Jesus was proclaiming the good news to the Jews, but they didn’t response neither.
The Jews’ hearted were harden. They accused John as demon possessed because John living an ascetic life. They accused Jesus a glutton and a drunkard when because Jesus eat and drink with sinners.
When someone heart is harden, they will find reason to accused us. They have ears but cannot hear (v15).
“Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds” The Lord ended His message with this proverb. They nonbelievers can accuse John and Jesus all day long, but the wisdom of John and Jesus is justified by their actions. They people attack us, instead of arguing with them, sometimes it is better to show them wisdom of God’s word by our actions and our lifestyles.