Matthew 11: Taking the Kingdom by Force (1)
Pray Psalm 40.11-13.
Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD;
Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.
For innumerable evils have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up;
They are more than the hairs of my head;
Therefore my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Sing Psalm 40.11-13.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.
Read and meditate on Matthew 11.1-6.
1. John 10 records the “first sending” of messengers from Jesus. This passage might be seen as the “second sending”. Why?
2. What did Jesus tell John’s disciples to tell him?
The disciples had now been properly instructed and sent. We don’t know where each pair of disciples was told to go, but we can assume it was to different towns and villages. As they left, Jesus began to follow after them, “to teach and to preach in their cities.” I take their to mean the cities He had assigned to them. Thus, in a certain way, these disciples were functioning in a role not unlike that of John the Baptist, preparing people for the coming of Him Who had invested them with such power and good news. Our own callings are like that as well, as we prepare the world for the coming of our Lord, soon and very soon.
I do not agree with commentators and preachers who see in this passage an indication that John the Baptist’s faith was faltering. John was simply doing, by a different means, what he had been doing from the beginning of his ministry: directing people to Jesus.
During his time of imprisonment, prior to his murder by King Herod, some of John’s disciples remained with him. We would expect that. But John must have known that he had come to the end of his journey, and he wanted all his disciples to connect with Jesus. Otherwise, when he was gone, they would have nothing. So he sent two of his disciples – who would no doubt have heard about Jesus and His works – to hear from Jesus Himself whether He was the “Coming One”.
I suspect that this question was not lingering in John’s mind; rather, I believe it must have been troubling the minds of those disciples who were still attached to him. John chose a strategy he had used from the beginning, as he sent two of his disciples to “come and see” Jesus for themselves (Jn. 1.29-39).
Jesus turned John’s disciples into messengers of the Kingdom. He sent them back to John to report on the things they had seen and heard. This is just what He did with His disciples. Here he made two men messengers, and sent them back to John to tell in their own words and from their own observation what Jesus had done. Can’t you see the pleased smile emerging on John’s face as these brothers excitedly reported, in the presence of John’s remaining disciples, what they had seen and heard? Like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, these two would have had their hearts warmed and assured; their voices would have been charged with conviction and passion. And the other disciples of John who heard them would have wanted to beat a path to Jesus, post haste.
Precisely as John intended.
1. Why was it important that the disciples of John see and hear at first hand Jesus and His work? Is that important for us?
2. In what ways is our mission to our Personal Mission Field like that of Jesus’ disciples and the disciples of John?
3. What should we say to people who doubt that Jesus is the “Coming One”?
John asks this not because he is ignorant but to guide others who are ignorant and to say to them, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jerome (347-420), Commentary on Matthew 2.11.3
Lord, today as I go out into my Personal Mission Field, I want my world to know that…
Pray Psalm 40.1-10.
How will the Lord use you today? Let these verses prepare you for the day ahead, so that you go into it as a faithful messenger of Jesus Christ.
Sing Psalm 40.1-10.
Psalm 40.1-10 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.
Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare? None with You can e’er compare.
Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord!
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.
Lord, Your truth will I proclaim to Your people gathered ‘round,
nor will I my lips restrain – let Your precious ways resound!
Of Your saving grace and Word I would speak, most loving Lord.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).