September 19, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Friday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 102, 1 Kings 9:1-9, 1 Thes. 4:13
Evening – Psalm 139, Mt. 11:2-19

Commentary, Matthew 11:2-19

Matthew 11:1 tells us three things.  First, our Lord has finished giving the instructions to the disciples.  Second, they have departed on their mission.  Third, Jesus departs on a second mission in Galilee.

It is while Christ is traveling through Galilee preaching and ministering that John the Baptist sends people to Jesus.  John is in prison because he had told Herod it was against the law of God for Herod to be married to his brother’s wife, Herodias.  Herod would not repent of his sin, but he did hate John for telling him about it.  So, typical of tyrants and despots, he arrested an innocent man.  He will kill him later.  The Lord’s warnings about persecution and death for serving Him are very accurate.

John’s question is one of the most important questions anyone can ask; “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”  Rather than simply saying, “I am He,” our Lord shows that His work and ministry is the fulfillment of Scripture.  Read Isaiah 61:1-3 and compare it with Christ’s response to John.  Jesus is saying He is the fulfillment of this, and all Scripture, therefore, He is the One Israel and the world has been looking for.  John was correct when he identified Jesus as the Messiah.  Everything John said about Him was true.  This was terribly important for John to hear.  In prison with his life dependent upon a corrupt tyrant, John’s life could be ended at any moment.  He wanted to know he was not throwing his life away on a lie.  He needed to know Jesus was who He said He was, and that he would die in the Lord and be with Him in Paradise forever.  John’s disciples returned to him with this message, and John gave his life in the service of Christ.

After many commendatory words about John (vss 7-15) Christ compares Israel to children complaining because neither He nor John joined their games.  In fact, both Christ and John were very much not joined to the religious sham and hypocrisy that characterized most of Israel.  Consequently, both were castigated and rejected.  They called John a demoniac and Jesus a drunk.  Both were ultimately killed by the reigning powers, not for crimes, but for not joining and endorsing the status quo, for criticizing the faith, values, and actions of the culture and its rulers.  “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” is a warning to those who would follow Christ.  It can happen to you.