Jesus Is the Expected Messiah[a]
Jesus and John the Baptist[b]
Report to John What You Hear and See.[c] 1 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.
2 When John who was in prison heard what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come,[d] or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go back and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”[e]
John Is the Elijah Who Was Destined To Return.[f] 7 As John’s disciples were departing, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone robed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are found in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women, no one has been greater than John the Baptist, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.[g] 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and the violent are taking it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until the arrival of John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John is the Elijah who was destined to return. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
16 Indecisive Children.[h]“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another:
17 ‘We played the flute for you,
but you would not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you refused to mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Yet wisdom is proved right by her actions.”
20 Woe to the Cities of Galilee.[i] Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his mighty deeds had been performed because they had refused to repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the mighty deeds performed in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And as for you, Capernaum:
‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will be cast down to the netherworld.’
For if the mighty deeds performed in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would be standing to this day. 24 But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”
25 The Self-Revelation of Jesus.[j] At that time, Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and have revealed them to children. 26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
27 “All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
28 The Gentle Mastery of Christ.[k]“Come to me, all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- Matthew 11:1 To be committed to Christ means to acknowledge him as the expected Messiah. By his words and his actions, he takes a clear position toward John and toward the Pharisees. To decide for Christ means to discover the inner life of Jesus. It is not right to proclaim the coming of the kingdom; we are invited to experience it, to experience the power of God. The following passages enable us to question ourselves about our faith.
- Matthew 11:1 In striking images John had proclaimed the time of wrath and the purification by God. Jesus himself had joined in this movement of renewal. Now the prophet is in prison, the victim of his mission. All around Jesus the enthusiasm of the crowds concerning John begins to falter. How then can they be made to acknowledge the awaited Messianic revolution consisting in the decisive judgment of the wicked and the liberation of the righteous (Mt 3:12)? But then who is the Messiah and what is the kingdom of God? One must pass from questioning to decision, to the act of faith in Jesus.
- Matthew 11:1 By letting John know that the announcement of the Prophets is being fulfilled (Isa 26:19; 29:18; 35:5f; 61:1), Jesus reassures him and places him on guard against an overly human idea of the Messiah; he encourages the Baptist to persevere in faith until the end. The kingdom of God is not to be confused with the accomplishment of our projects and our human victories; it is a gift of God.
- Matthew 11:3 The one who is to come: i.e., the Messiah. Wait for another: it is not clear whether John is uncertain about Jesus or is simply sending his disciples to Jesus.
- Matthew 11:6 Takes no offense at me: literally, “is not scandalized,” that is, for whom I am not a hindrance or stumbling block (Greek: skandalon). It is from the idea of a stumbling block on the way of goodness that “scandal” derives its moral meaning, in both the active sense of giving scandal and the passive sense of taking scandal. In current idiom, a bad example is called “scandalous” when it causes a stir.
- Matthew 11:7 Jesus eulogizes the strength of John the Baptist’s religious convictions, the austerity of his life (v. 7f), and his unique prophetic role as precursor of the kingdom of God, which for Jesus is the salvation of human beings (vv. 4-5), not political revolution or the acquisition of power.
- Matthew 11:11 John’s greatness consists primarily in his task of announcing the imminence of the kingdom of God (Mt 3:1). Yet to be a member of the kingdom is so sublime a privilege that even the least member is greater than the Baptist!
- Matthew 11:16 Indecisive children do not want to play either at a wedding when a flute is sounded or at a funeral when a dirge is sung; such are the Jews who reject the salvation that God offers them: the severity of John frightens them and the goodness of Jesus shocks them. People often hesitate as much before joy as before repentance! But the kingdom of God does not wait; God realizes here below his plan—his “Wisdom”—as the acts of John and Jesus bear witness.
- Matthew 11:20 The fate of the privileged cities of Chorazin (about two miles from Capernaum) and Bethsaida (on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee) will be worse than that of cities traditionally regarded as godless (Tyre and Sidon: Am 1:9f; 1 Sam 23; Ezek 26–28; Zec 9:2-4) or wicked (Sodom: Gen 18:16-19; Ezek 16:46-56), which did not have the opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles and hear his preaching as had the people in most of Galilee. The people of Chorazin and Bethsaida have failed to recognize the presence of God in Jesus because they wanted to avoid penance. The same is true for the people of Capernaum, Jesus’ headquarters on the north shore of Galilee (see Mt 4:13).
- Matthew 11:25 The self-revelation of Jesus reached one of its high points in this moving prayer. It enables us to enter into the most hidden core of his life, into his innermost experiences. Between him and the Father there is an exchange of life, a profound and unique bond, a mutual commitment of their entire being—in short, an inexpressibly mysterious oneness. In the Bible, all this is summed up in the verb “know.” This is why Jesus alone can reveal to other human beings who the Father is for them.
- Matthew 11:28 Yoke and burden evoke the Mosaic Law. The law of Christ is sweet, for it is not a list of customs, obligations, and conventions but primarily the sharing of a life, an apprenticeship of love.