Matthew 11-12

Matthew 11

:1-6  Testimony to John

:2  John ... in prison

By this time, John the Baptist had been arrested by Herod for making him too uncomfortable about his own sins.

:3  Art thou he that should come ...

Here is John the Baptist, a great preacher, prophet, and the forerunner to Jesus.  John prepared the people for Jesus.  John understood at the beginning of Jesus' ministry that Jesus was the Messiah.

John 1:36-AV And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Many have tried to explain away this passage,

TFG:  But the plain, unmistakable inference of the text is that John's faith wavered. The Bible does not represent the saints as free from imperfection.

John the Baptist had been in prison for a while, and was starting to have doubts about Jesus.

:4  blind receive their sight

Jesus is alluding to some familiar references by Isaiah about the Messiah:

Isaiah 35:5-6 AV Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  6 Then shall the lame [man] leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 61:1-AV The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;

:7-19  Testimony of John

:7  A reed shaken with the wind?

The reed of Egypt and Palestine is a very tall cane, growing twelve feet high, and is easily bent by the wind. John was not like the reed. He could not be bent by every breath of applause or displeasure. (PNT 65)

John wasn't the kind of guy who would preach every new doctrine that came blowing into town.  He was a rugged, straight shooting kind of guy.

:11  least in the kingdom ... greater than he

Up to this point, outside of Jesus Himself, John was the greatest, most moral person who ever lived.

Yet being born again places a person in an even greater place with God than John had at that point.

John still had his own sins, great as he was.

:12  the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence ...

The NIV reads:

Matthew 11:12-NIV From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

But all the other literal translations follow the gist of the King James:

MAT 11:12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  (NASB)

The commentators have a lot of different, conflicting ideas about this verse.

Here's my two cents. 

Based on the context of John the Baptist being in prison ...

I think the "kingdom of heaven suffereth violence" refers to the fact that things like John's imprisonment happens.

I think that "the violent take it by force" refers again to the persecution that the prophets like John have faced from the beginning.

:14  Elias

Elijah - John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, and partly fulfilled the prophecy concerning Elijah.

Luke 1:17-AV And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, but wasn't really Elijah

John 1:21-AV And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Elijah himself is still going to make an appearance.

Malachi 4:5-AV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

We believe that Elijah himself, who was seen in his glorified state with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (not John the Baptist), will again make an appearance on earth, probably during the tribulation period.

He's most likely one of the two witnesses in Rev.11

:16  liken this generation ...

They're just like a bunch of spoiled children who aren't satisfied with anything you give them.

If you're sad, they complain that you're not happy.

If you're happy, they complain that you're not sad.

:16  wisdom is justified of her children

Wise people (children of wisdom) show by their actions and choices that they're wise.

These people, are obviously not related to wisdom by the way they treat Jesus and John.

:20-24  Cities rebuked

:20  wherein most of his mighty works were done

The cities that Jesus did the most spectacular of His miracles in did not respond in believing in Him.


Miracles don't produce faith

A lot of unbelievers say things like:  "If I could only see a miracle, then I'd believe".

There are some churches that feel they need to emphasize signs and wonders in order to be a legitimate church.

But the truth of the matter is, that signs and wonders don't necessarily make people believe in Jesus.

If their heart is hard, miracles aren't necessarily going to do it.

:21  Chorazin ... Bethsaida

Chorazin has long been extinct, and its site is not certainly known. It is named only here and in # Lu 10:13 Situated about two miles from the ruins of Tell-Hum, thought to be Capernaum, there are ruins now called Kerazeh, including a synagogue, columns and walls of buildings, supposed to mark the site of Chorazin.  

Bethsaida - The word means "House of fish," and the name would imply that it was a fishing town, and it was the home of the fishermen, Peter, Andrew and Philip.

:21  Tyre and Sidon

These were ancient, pagan cities who were rebuked by many of the Old Testament prophets for their materialism and godlessness, and then later punished for their sin.

:23  Capernaum

This was Jesus' home base of operations in Galilee, the northern section of Israel.

:24  more tolerable

Because these contemporary cities had seen Jesus and heard from Him, they were entrusted with a greater messenger and would face greater consequences if they didn't repent.

Sodom only faced Lot.  Capernaum faced Jesus.

:25-27  Jesus and the Father

:25  hid ... from the wise

There requires a kind of humility to come to Jesus.

Those who consider themselves wise often have a hard time because they have to humble themselves and acknowledge that they are a sinner in need of a savior.

:27  neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son

People who claim to know God but who don't know Jesus are fooling themselves.

:28-30  Come unto me

:29  Take my yoke upon you

Two ideas could be contained here:

1.  The training of oxen

An older, more experienced ox is paired with a young ox to teach it how to pull.

Young oxen want to run wild.

Young oxen want to go in their own direction, not the direction they're supposed to go.

The older oxen slows the younger one down, and teaches him "the ropes"

There is a discipline to the Christian life.

Jesus isn't saying here, "Hop on my back and I'll give you a ride"

He's saying, "Hitch up next to me and start pulling, I'll show you how"

2.  The idea of servanthood to Jesus.

In Jeremiah 27,28, the prophet Jeremiah is told to make a wooden yoke and wear it around his neck.

This was to illustrate that God was going to put the people under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.

If this is the idea Jesus is talking about, He could be talking about becoming His servants.

:29  learn of me

or, "learn from me"

As we get under the yoke with the older, wiser, more experienced ox (Jesus), we begin to see how He pulls the plow.

We begin to learn His pace in life.

We learn to see the direction He's going.

But there's a committment required - one of learning, one of getting under the yoke.

The word "disciple" means "learner"

:29  meek and lowly in heart

Here's some of what you going to learn from Jesus.

He's not going to boss you around, but He'll certainly lead you.

His servants who have gotten under the yoke with Him aren't going to be proud and boastful types (maybe only at first...)

ye shall find rest

Irony:  Jesus is talking about working, about pulling in a yoke.

Yet the truth is, when we get in the yoke with Jesus, we find real rest.

:30  My yoke is easy, my burden is light

There is work and weight to the Christian life.

But it's not intolerable.  It's bearable


How to find rest:

1.  Come to Jesus

2.  Submit to Jesus (Take His yoke)

3.  Learn from Jesus

Learn your lessons well.


If I'm not experiencing rest in my soul ...

Maybe I haven't learned what it means to get under Jesus' yoke.

Matthew 12

:1-8  Eating on the Sabbath

:1  corn

simply, "grain".  Could be wheat or barley.

:2  not lawful to do upon the sabbath day

This is one of the things that the Pharisees eventually used to have Jesus crucified.

The Pharisees took the command:

Exodus 20:10-AV But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates:

They really went to town with it.

They wrote volumes and volumes on what it meant to not do any work.

Of course they allowed a few loopholes here and there.

Tying knots - of course a kind of work.

But what about clothing?  Well, we'll let you tie a knot in your clothing, as in your wife's girdle.

So, if you forgot to tie the bucket onto the rope at the well before the Sabbath, you could take your wife's girdle and tie one end to the rope, and the other end to the bucket, and not be breaking the law.

Here - the disciples are breaking the Pharisees' interpretation of the law by picking the raw grain, rubbing it between their hands to get the chaff off, and then eating the grain.  The act of picking and rubbing the grain was considered to be work by them.

It's important to realize that Jesus only broke the Pharisees' interpretation of the Sabbath Law, not God's interpretation of the Sabbath Law.

:3  what David did

Extra credit:  read 1Samuel 21 - David and the priests at Nob.

David was running from Saul.

He and his men came to the tabernacle, looking for some help, they were hungry

The only food the priest had was the showbread, which was kept before the Lord in the tabernacle for seven days, then only to be eaten by the priests.

David talked the priest into letting his men eat the showbread.

God never rebuked David for that.  Nobody died.  At least not for eating the showbread.

:9-13  Healing on the Sabbath

:11  one sheep ... a pit

Jesus like to use this one on the Pharisees.

This was one of their exceptions to the law of working on the Sabbath.

If the life of one of your livestock was endangered, you were allowed to save it's life.

:14-21  Pharisees plot against Jesus

:14  held a council against him

This becomes a turning point for Jesus and His ministry.

The official rejection of Him by the Jews is starting.

:17  That it might be fulfilled ...

Matthew quotes Isaiah 41:1-4

This prophecy contains at least a couple of ideas:

1.  Messiah would be for the Gentiles too.

The fact that the Pharisees were rejecting Jesus would eventually lead to the gospel going out to the Gentiles.

2.  Messiah would gently care for the weak and hurting

Jesus healed the multitudes

He wouldn't break somebody who's already bruised.

A good lesson for us to follow!

3.  His voice wasn't heart in the streets.

Jesus told them not to make Him known.

:22-37  Blasphemy of the Holy Ghost

:24  Beelzebub

"lord of the flies", a Philistine god.

Another name for Satan.

:31  blasphemy against the Holy Ghost

In context, it refers to attributing the works of God to the devil.

Can a person today commit the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost?  How?


By rejecting the work of the Holy Ghost who is testifying about Jesus.

John 15:26-AV But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

:33  tree good ... fruit good

Jesus had said earlier that you'd know a tree by it's fruits.

You can't be saying that Jesus is of the devil when His fruits are from God.

:34  out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh

You can tell a lot about a person if you just let them talk.

:34  every idle word

Is this conversation being recorded?

:38-45  Seeking a sign

:39  an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign

Do you think this could apply to the churches who have gone seeking after signs?

In contrast, the Bible says:

Mark 16:20-AV And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Don't put the signs out front, seeking them.  Let them come at their own pace, following you.

:40  as Jonas

Jonah becomes an example of Jesus.

He was three days in the whale, Jesus would be in the earth.

Jonah came out, Jesus came out.

Extra extra credit:  Read the book of Jonah!

:41  Nineveh

Jonah was running from God's assignment for him in Nineveh when he got swallowed by the fish.

When Jonah finally gave in to God's desires, he went and preached at evil wicked Nineveh, and much to Jonah's disgust, the whole city repented.

:42  Queen of the south

The Queen of Sheba took a trip to visit Solomon.

Read 1King 10:1-13 for more info.

1Kings 10:1-AV And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

:43  the unclean spirit

Jesus is going to tell a parable, or a truth to illustrate a point.

And it so happens that Jesus has just cast a demon out of a blind, dumb man.

Truths in the parable itself:

the unclean spirit is gone out -

It appears this demon has left voluntarily.  He later describes the house as "my house" (v.44)

RWP:  {Into my house} (eis ton oikon mou). So the demon describes the man in whom he had dwelt. "The demon is ironically represented as implying that he left his victim voluntarily, as a man leaves his house to go for a walk" (McNeile).

walketh through dry places

Demons like to inhabit moist, warm bodies - that's probably why the demons wanted Jesus to cast them into the pigs in chapter 8.

findeth it empty -

Jesus hasn't filled it yet with His Spirit.

People who are delivered from demons, or any work of Satan, need to come to the Lord.  They need the Holy Spirit.

Alcoholism.  Not a "higher power", but Jesus!

Application of the parable:

v.45  so shall it be also unto this wicked generation

The generation in Jesus' day was like that man whose demonic spirit had left him.

He's possibly talking about some of the reformation that happened under John the Baptist.

But if left unfilled (with Jesus), the last state would be worse than the first.

They would become worse and worse until they ended up crucifying the Lord of Glory.

:46-50  Jesus' Family

:48  who is my mother?

Two points of application:

1.  Don't worship Mary

This isn't exactly a flattering view of the "Virgin Mother".

Jesus didn't exactly come out and bow down to His mother.

2.  Becoming a part of Jesus' family

By following after Him.