JULY 15, 2020
Scripture: Matthew 11
Author: Jeremy Witt
Matthew 10 was the call of the disciples and their commission by Jesus which was uniquely applicable to them (go and share the Good News but only to the Jews). Principles may be applied to us (Christ-followers serving the LORD) today, but the specifics in this situation applied only to the disciples and not to everyone. This would be an example of a descriptive passage describing how and what took place.
Matthew 11 deals in a different way primarily to John and his doubts in verses 1-19. John is in prison for speaking out against King Herod and his marriage to his sister-in-law (Matthew 14:3-5). One of the big things to me that stands out is that John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus. Jesus did not fit the mold for even John the Baptist. Jesus came differently, acted differently, and was not what John the Baptist expected in the Messiah.
Doesn’t that make you feel a little better about your doubts? The man that Jesus called John the Baptist “Elijah, the one the prophets said would come” (verse 14) had doubts! Jesus said of John, “all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” I do not feel so terrible about myself when I read this passage. There are so many things in Scripture that I do not understand. Yet Jesus said in “Yet ever the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he (John the Baptist) is” (verse 11)
John was alone in prison. Isolation has a way of messing with your brain and how we think. That is one of the dangers of this quarantine is how it affects us mentally. One of the things that many medical professionals are saying is that mental health is being affected more than the threat of this virus. John was isolated. He was having doubts. Despite what John knew of Scripture, he had doubts. Despite what John had seen and heard at Jesus’ baptism, he had doubts. So when we have doubts about our faith, about the Bible, or about Jesus Himself, we can know that even John the Baptist had doubts.
Notice how Jesus dealt with John’s doubts. He referenced Scripture. Read verses 5 and 6. Jesus referred to Isaiah 35:4-6; 42:7, 18; and 61:1. He referred to some of the actions that He (Jesus) did. As John’s disciples left, Jesus said of John from Scripture in Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1 in verse 10. He gave the ultimate compliment in verse 11 and then calls him “Elijah” in verse 14. John’s messengers heard this. They would relay the message to John and it would be an encouragement to him. When Jesus dealt with John’s doubt, He did not condemn him. He quoted Scripture and encouraged him. The principles from John’s moment of doubt applies to us today. God will encourage us through His Word. God will not condemn us when we doubt. What we need to do is go to His Word despite our lack of understanding. John did not understand it all, so let this be an encouragement for us today.
We should note that Jesus does change the tone in verse 16-25. No matter what Jesus said or did, many questioned him, doubted him. The difference is that they did not seek Jesus for answers the way that John did. They were cynical and skeptical. They did not seek to get answers but wanted to stay where they were. They wanted to be entertained but not confronted with their sin. They wanted life to be about them and their wants. When we doubt things about God or His Word, are we seeking to understand and get right with Him or are we trying to justify our sins or way of life? This speaks to us and our world today so clearly.
Notice how Jesus prayed and for whom He prayed in verses 25-30. It was for the child-like, the humble, the servant-minded, the tired and weary ones. It was not for the wise and clever or the comfortable. Jesus refers a yoke that was used for livestock. It was used to guide and keep the livestock on the task which shows us that when we are aligned with God, we are expected to be on task. We are called to a job, a ministry, a task that requires work and does not lend itself to comfort and selfish living. It is not for the lazy, but we see that the task is “light” and are promised, “rest for our souls.”