When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’
For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
Matthew 11:1-19 NLT
My Thoughts: Jesus and the newly commissioned Apostles split up and go to multiple towns to share the good news. While Jesus is ramping up His ministry, John the Baptist (JTB) hears what they are doing and he is very confused.
We first read about JTB in Matthew 3 and learn that he was born to prepare the way for The Messiah:
In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’” Matthew 3:1-3 NLT
No man had ever fulfilled his God given purpose better than John, yet he was in prison for publicly rebuking King Herod’s flagrant sin of marrying his sister-in-law. As John sat in that prison, he began to have doubts that Jesus was the Messiah.
I don’t think John was really confused about who Jesus was, however, I think he may have been confused and disappointed because he hoped Jesus would rescue him from the hands of Herod.
How many times have we obediently followed the calling of Jesus and also found ourselves in unsavory conditions? It has happened to me and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had a season or a time of doubt as well.
What I love is that Jesus doesn’t get angry with John or with us when we have doubts. But He does want us to turn to Him, not away from Him while we pray and work through our doubts. He also wants us to be very careful that we do not sin when we have doubts. We read in our verses today that Jesus said:
“God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Matthew 11:6
I love that John mirrors this verse when he asks for clarification that Jesus is who He says he is and he does not sin by denouncing Him or demanding to be rescued.
Listen, this is a huge “note to self” because I’m not sure I would have been as spiritually mature! My prayers and questions probably would have included a lot of pleading for Jesus to get me out of that prison. They might even have had some underlying anger and indignation that Jesus hadn’t struck Herod and his family with lightning the minute I was carted off to prison because I had served Him so obediently!
Danger, Cecilia, danger!!!
Father, may I never forget that You (a) bless those who do not fall away when we have troubles of any kind, and (b) may I never forget that my obedience is an act of worship, and (c) Jesus reminds me in John 16:33 that in this world I will have trouble but because He is faithful, I can have peace! Please write this truth on my heart, LORD, and remind me that everything that happens to me is for my benefit and Your glory.
As John’s disciples were preparing to leave, Jesus begins to speak about John to the crowds. I would like to think that John’s disciples stopped and listened so they could share how Jesus honored John and stated that he had ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven (vs 12):
“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” Matthew 11:12 NLT
My study Bible says this about verse 12: “There are three common views about the meaning of this verse. (1) Jesus may have been referring to a vast movement toward God, the momentum that began with John’s preaching. (2) He may have been reflecting the Jewish activists’ expectation that God’s kingdom would come through a violent overthrow of Rome. (3) Or he may have meant that entering God’s kingdom takes courage, unwavering faith, determination, and endurance because of the growing opposition leveled at Jesus’ followers. In any case, Jesus pointed out that John’s ministry had ushered in the kingdom of heaven.”
This sweet testimony for John was because he had fulfilled his God given purpose and not fallen away even when he had terrible troubles and doubts. May Jesus be able to say this about me.
As followers of Christ, we too will encounter opposition from nonbelievers. They will be cynical; they will challenge what we believe, and how we choose to live. These people will be like Herod and won’t like how we make them feel uncomfortable with the truth and may also take drastic measures to keep us quiet.
My heart tells me that Jesus is referring me to view number three: Cecilia take courage, be unwavering in your faith, determination, and endurance because of the growing opposition leveled at Jesus’ followers.
Will we, will I, be able to remain steadfast in my faith and endurance when I face opposition? May it be so, LORD, may it be so!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:2-8
Closing Prayer: Father God, as I walk through this season of change in my life, I pray that I honor You, just as John did, by not falling away from You. I confess I got comfortable in a place that you never intended for me to be, and I am so sorry LORD. Thank you for Your forgiveness and for reminding me of the promise You made to me years ago that You will take care of my father’s people. This is such a comfort to my heart and soul and I thank you, LORD. You have made it abundantly clear that the road I was on is not Your plan for my life. I know You are trustworthy and I surrender my will to Yours, LORD. Father, I also pray that these words are a comfort to others if they too are going through a season of change and refinement. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.