Matthew 11

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Messengers from John the Baptist

1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 1Now when John heard 2in prison about the deeds of 3the Christ, he sent word by 4his disciples
3 and said to him, "Are you 5the one who is to come, or shall we 6look for another?"
4 And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:
5 7the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and 8the poor have good news preached to them.
6 And blessed is the one who 9is not offended by me."
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out 10into the wilderness to see? 11A reed shaken by the wind?
8 What then did you go out to see? A man[b] dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
9 What then did you go out to see? 12A prophet?[c] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
10 This is he of whom it is written, 13"'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.'
11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 14From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[d] and the violent take it by force.
13 15For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,
14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is 16Elijah who is to come.
15 17He who has ears to hear,[e] let him hear.
16 "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'
18 For John came 18neither eating 19nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'
19 The Son of Man came 20eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, 21a friend of 22tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."[f]

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 23Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
21 24"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in 25Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 26But I tell you, it will be more bearable on 27the day of judgment for 28Tyre and Sidon than for you.
23 And you, 29Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to 30Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 31But I tell you that 32it will be more tolerable on 33the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 34At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, 35Lord of heaven and earth, that 36you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and 37revealed them to little children;
26 yes, Father, for such was your 38gracious will.[g]
27 39All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son 40except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone 41to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 42Come to 43me, all who labor and are 44heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and 45learn from me, for I am 46gentle and lowly in heart, and 47you will find rest for your souls.
30 For 48my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

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Matthew 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

Christ's preaching. (1) Christ's answer to John's disciples. (2-6) Christ's testimony to John the Baptist. (7-15) The perverseness of the Jews. (16-24) The gospel revealed to the simple. The heavy-laden invited. (25-30)

Verse 1 Our Divine Redeemer never was weary of his labour of love; and we should not be weary of well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Verses 2-6 Some think that John sent this inquiry for his own satisfaction. Where there is true faith, yet there may be a mixture of unbelief. The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation; call in question the most important truths. But we hope that John's faith did not fail in this matter, and that he only desired to have it strengthened and confirmed. Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ for their satisfaction. Christ points them to what they heard and saw. Christ's gracious condescensions and compassions to the poor, show that it was he that should bring to the world the tender mercies of our God. Those things which men see and hear, if compared with the Scriptures, direct in what way salvation is to be found. It is difficult to conquer prejudices, and dangerous not to conquer them; but those who believe in Christ, their faith will be found so much the more to praise, and honour, and glory.

Verses 7-15 What Christ said concerning John, was not only for his praise, but for the people's profit. Those who attend on the word will be called to give an account of their improvements. Do we think when the sermon is done, the care is over? No, then the greatest of the care begins. John was a self-denying man, dead to all the pomps of the world and the pleasures of sense. It becomes people, in all their appearances, to be consistent with their character and their situation. John was a great and good man, yet not perfect; therefore he came short of glorified saints. The least in heaven knows more, loves more, and does more in praising God, and receives more from him, than the greatest in this world. But by the kingdom of heaven here, is rather to be understood the kingdom of grace, the gospel dispensation in its power and purity. What reason we have to be thankful that our lot is cast in the days of the kingdom of heaven, under such advantages of light and love! Multitudes were wrought upon by the ministry of John, and became his disciples. And those strove for a place in this kingdom, that one would think had no right nor title to it, and so seemed to be intruders. It shows us what fervency and zeal are required of all. Self must be denied; the bent, the frame and temper of the mind must be altered. Those who will have an interest in the great salvation, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing. The things of God are of great and common concern. God requires no more from us than the right use of the faculties he has given us. People are ignorant, because they will not learn.

Verses 16-24 Christ reflects on the scribes and Pharisees, who had a proud conceit of themselves. He likens their behaviour to children's play, who being out of temper without reason, quarrel with all the attempts of their fellows to please them, or to get them to join in the plays for which they used to assemble. The cavils of worldly men are often very trifling and show great malice. Something they have to urge against every one, however excellent and holy. Christ, who was undefiled, and separate from sinners, is here represented as in league with them, and polluted by them. The most unspotted innocence will not always be a defence against reproach. Christ knew that the hearts of the Jews were more bitter and hardened against his miracles and doctrines, than those of Tyre and Sidon would have been; therefore their condemnation would be the greater. The Lord exercises his almighty power, yet he punishes none more than they deserve, and never withholds the knowledge of the truth from those who long after it.

Verses 25-30 It becomes children to be grateful. When we come to God as a Father, we must remember that he is Lord of heaven and earth, which obliges us to come to him with reverence as to the sovereign Lord of all; yet with confidence, as one able to defend us from evil, and to supply us with all good. Our blessed Lord added a remarkable declaration, that the Father had delivered into his hands all power, authority, and judgment. We are indebted to Christ for all the revelation we have of God the Father's will and love, ever since Adam sinned. Our Saviour has invited all that labour and are heavy-laden, to come unto him. In some senses all men are so. Worldly men burden themselves with fruitless cares for wealth and honours; the gay and the sensual labour in pursuit of pleasures; the slave of Satan and his own lusts, is the merest drudge on earth. Those who labour to establish their own righteousness also labour in vain. The convinced sinner is heavy-laden with guilt and terror; and the tempted and afflicted believer has labours and burdens. Christ invites all to come to him for rest to their souls. He alone gives this invitation; men come to him, when, feeling their guilt and misery, and believing his love and power to help, they seek him in fervent prayer. Thus it is the duty and interest of weary and heavy-laden sinners, to come to Jesus Christ. This is the gospel call; Whoever will, let him come. All who thus come will receive rest as Christ's gift, and obtain peace and comfort in their hearts. But in coming to him they must take his yoke, and submit to his authority. They must learn of him all things, as to their comfort and obedience. He accepts the willing servant, however imperfect the services. Here we may find rest for our souls, and here only. Nor need we fear his yoke. His commandments are holy, just, and good. It requires self-denial, and exposes to difficulties, but this is abundantly repaid, even in this world, by inward peace and joy. It is a yoke that is lined with love. So powerful are the assistances he gives us, so suitable the encouragements, and so strong the consolations to be found in the way of duty, that we may truly say, it is a yoke of pleasantness. The way of duty is the way of rest. The truths Christ teaches are such as we may venture our souls upon. Such is the Redeemer's mercy; and why should the labouring and burdened sinner seek for rest from any other quarter? Let us come to him daily, for deliverance from wrath and guilt, from sin and Satan, from all our cares, fears, and sorrows. But forced obedience, far from being easy and light, is a heavy burden. In vain do we draw near to Jesus with our lips, while the heart is far from him. Then come to Jesus to find rest for your souls.

Cross References 48

  • 1. For ver. 2-19, see Luke 7:18-35
  • 2. Matthew 14:3; [Matthew 4:12]
  • 3. See Matthew 1:17
  • 4. See Matthew 9:14
  • 5. John 4:25; John 6:14; John 11:27
  • 6. [Luke 3:15]
  • 7. See Luke 7:22
  • 8. Luke 4:18; [Matthew 5:3; James 2:5]
  • 9. Isaiah 8:14, 15; John 6:61
  • 10. Matthew 3:1; Luke 1:80
  • 11. [Ephesians 4:14; James 1:6]
  • 12. Matthew 14:5; Matthew 21:26; Luke 1:76
  • 13. Mark 1:2; Cited from Malachi 3:1
  • 14. Luke 16:16
  • 15. [See ver. 12 above]
  • 16. Matthew 17:10-13; Malachi 4:5; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:17; [John 1:21]
  • 17. Matthew 13:9, 43; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35
  • 18. Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6
  • 19. Luke 1:15
  • 20. Matthew 9:10; Luke 7:36; Luke 14:1; John 2:1; John 12:2
  • 21. Matthew 9:11; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7
  • 22. Matthew 18:17
  • 23. [Psalms 81:11-13; Isaiah 1:2-5]
  • 24. For ver. 21-24, see Luke 10:12-15
  • 25. Matthew 15:21; Mark 3:8; [Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 28:2-24; Amos 1:9, 10]
  • 26. [Luke 12:47, 48]
  • 27. See Acts 17:31
  • 28. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 29. Cited from Isaiah 14:13-15
  • 30. Matthew 16:18(Gk.); Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27
  • 31. [See ver. 22 above]
  • 32. Matthew 10:15
  • 33. [See ver. 22 above]
  • 34. For ver. 25-27, see Luke 10:21, 22
  • 35. See Acts 17:24
  • 36. Job 37:24; 1 Corinthians 1:19-27; 2 Corinthians 3:14
  • 37. Matthew 21:16; Psalms 8:2; [Matthew 13:11; Matthew 16:17]
  • 38. Luke 12:32; Galatians 1:15
  • 39. See Matthew 28:18
  • 40. [John 1:18; John 6:46; John 7:29; John 8:19; John 10:15; John 17:25]
  • 41. [John 17:26]
  • 42. John 7:37; [John 6:37]
  • 43. [ver. 3]
  • 44. [Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46]
  • 45. John 13:15; Ephesians 4:20; Philippians 2:5; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6
  • 46. Zechariah 9:9; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Philippians 2:7, 8; [Matthew 5:5]
  • 47. Jeremiah 6:16
  • 48. 1 John 5:3

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
  • [b]. Or Why then did you go out? To see a man...
  • [c]. Some manuscripts Why then did you go out? To see a prophet?
  • [d]. Or has been coming violently
  • [e]. Some manuscripts omit to hear
  • [f]. Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35)
  • [g]. Or for so it pleased you well

Matthew 11 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.