1When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples,#The closing formula of the discourse refers back to the original addressees, the Twelve. he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
IV. OPPOSITION FROM ISRAEL
The Messengers from John the Baptist.
2#The narrative section of the third book deals with the growing opposition to Jesus. It is largely devoted to disputes and attacks relating to faith and discipleship and thus contains much sayings-material, drawn in large part from Q. #a. [11:2–11] Lk 7:18–28. When John heard in prison#In prison: see Mt 4:12; 14:1–12. The works of the Messiah: the deeds of Mt 8–9. of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3#The question probably expresses a doubt of the Baptist that Jesus is the one who is to come (cf. Mal 3:1) because his mission has not been one of fiery judgment as John had expected (Mt 3:2). with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5#Jesus’ response is taken from passages of Isaiah (Is 26:19; 29:18–19; 35:5–6; 61:1) that picture the time of salvation as marked by deeds such as those that Jesus is doing. The beatitude is a warning to the Baptist not to disbelieve because his expectations have not been met. the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.#b. [11:5] Is 26:19; 29:18–19; 35:5–6; 61:1. 6And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus’ Testimony to John.
#Jesus’ rebuke of John is counterbalanced by a reminder of the greatness of the Baptist’s function (Mt 11:7–15) that is followed by a complaint about those who have heeded neither John nor Jesus (Mt 11:16–19). 7As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?#c. [11:7] 3:3, 5. 8Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?#In common Jewish belief there had been no prophecy in Israel since the last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi. The coming of a new prophet was eagerly awaited, and Jesus agrees that John was such. Yet he was more than a prophet, for he was the precursor of the one who would bring in the new and final age. The Old Testament quotation is a combination of Mal 3:1; Ex 23:20 with the significant change that the before me of Malachi becomes before you. The messenger now precedes not God, as in the original, but Jesus. Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:
‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.’#d. [11:10] Ex 23:20; Mal 3:1; Mk 1:2; Lk 1:76.
11Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.#John’s preeminent greatness lies in his function of announcing the imminence of the kingdom (Mt 3:1). But to be in the kingdom is so great a privilege that the least who has it is greater than the Baptist. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,#The meaning of this difficult saying is probably that the opponents of Jesus are trying to prevent people from accepting the kingdom and to snatch it away from those who have received it. and the violent are taking it by force.#e. [11:12] Lk 16:16. 13All the prophets and the law#All the prophets and the law: Matthew inverts the usual order, “law and prophets,” and says that both have prophesied. This emphasis on the prophetic character of the law points to its fulfillment in the teaching of Jesus and to the transitory nature of some of its commandments (see note on Mt 5:17–20). prophesied up to the time of John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.#f. [11:14] 17:10–13; Mal 3:23; Lk 1:17. 15Whoever has ears ought to hear.
16#g. [11:16–19] Lk 7:31–35. “To what shall I compare this generation?#See Lk 7:31–35. The meaning of the parable (Mt 11:16–17) and its explanation (Mt 11:18–19b) is much disputed. A plausible view is that the children of the parable are two groups, one of which proposes different entertainments to the other that will not agree with either proposal. The first represents John, Jesus, and their disciples; the second those who reject John for his asceticism and Jesus for his table association with those despised by the religiously observant. Mt 11:19c (her works) forms an inclusion with Mt 11:2 (“the works of the Messiah”). The original form of the saying is better preserved in Lk 7:35 “…wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” There John and Jesus are the children of Wisdom; here the works of Jesus the Messiah are those of divine Wisdom, of which he is the embodiment. Some important textual witnesses, however, have essentially the same reading as in Luke. It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’#h. [11:18] Lk 1:15. 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”#i. [11:19] 9:10–11.
Reproaches to Unrepentant Towns.
20#j. [11:20–24] Lk 10:12–15. Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. 21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon,#Tyre and Sidon were pagan cities denounced for their wickedness in the Old Testament; cf. Jl 3:4–7. they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.#k. [11:21] Jl 4:4–7. 22But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23#Capernaum’s pride and punishment are described in language taken from the taunt song against the king of Babylon (Is 14:13–15). And as for you, Capernaum:
‘Will you be exalted to heaven?#l. [11:23] Is 14:13–15.
You will go down to the netherworld.’
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”#m. [11:24] 10:15.
The Praise of the Father.
25#n. [11:25–27] Lk 10:21–22. At that time Jesus said in reply,#This Q saying, identical with Lk 10:21–22 except for minor variations, introduces a joyous note into this section, so dominated by the theme of unbelief. While the wise and the learned, the scribes and Pharisees, have rejected Jesus’ preaching and the significance of his mighty deeds, the childlike have accepted them. Acceptance depends upon the Father’s revelation, but this is granted to those who are open to receive it and refused to the arrogant. Jesus can speak of all mysteries because he is the Son and there is perfect reciprocity of knowledge between him and the Father; what has been handed over to him is revealed only to those whom he wishes. “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.#o. [11:27] Jn 3:35; 6:46; 7:28; 10:15.
The Gentle Mastery of Christ.
28#These verses are peculiar to Matthew and are similar to Ben Sirach’s invitation to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke (Sir 51:23, 26). “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,#Who labor and are burdened: burdened by the law as expounded by the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:4). and I will give you rest. 29#In place of the yoke of the law, complicated by scribal interpretation, Jesus invites the burdened to take the yoke of obedience to his word, under which they will find rest; cf. Jer 6:16. #p. [11:29] Sir 51:26; Jer 6:16. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”