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Matthew 11:1-19

He is the One

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 21, 2010

John, like many others, had assumed that when the Messiah came he would lead the people in an armed revolt against the oppression of Rome. He had heard of Jesus' power to cast out demons and calm the wind, so why wasn't he leading a revolt against Rome? John was discouraged, disappointed, and wondered what to make of what was happening, or what wasn't happening and so he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One, or shall we look for someone else?” Indeed, He was the One.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

He is the One

Matthew 11:1-19

In Matthew chapter 10, we understood what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, one who is being taught, who is being transformed, who is being changed. We then saw that Jesus sent out his disciples, Matthew called them Apostles for the first time here, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

That brings us to chapter 11. Jesus himself also departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. It is at this point that two of the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with a question from John himself.

It's really important to understand that at this point in time, John was imprisoned by Herod Antipas because of the boldness of John's preaching. Herod the Great had two sons, Herod Philip and Herod Antipas. Herod Philip married a woman called Herodias. When Herod Antipas visited his brother, he wanted Herodias for a wife for himself. So Herod Antipas divorced his own wife and married Herodias. She, of course, had to divorce Herod Philip first. This was what John the Baptist was confronting and it made Herodias very angry. So she pressured her new husband, Herod Antipas, to have John arrested. He sat in that prison for more than a year.

John, like many others, had assumed that when the Messiah came he would lead the people in an armed revolt against the oppression of Rome. He had heard, no doubt, of the authority of Jesus to rebuke the wind and the sea. He had heard that Jesus had cast out a legion of demons in the area of the Gadarenes. But why then was Jesus not leading a revolt? John must've thought.

John was discouraged, disappointed, and wondered what to make of what was happening, or what wasn't happening and so he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One, or shall we look for someone else?”

I. Everyone Needs Compassion

  • At first, we might expect Jesus to be disappointed in John, or perhaps to send a sharp rebuke for his lack of faith.
  • But what we see is that Jesus responds with compassion.
  • This is truly the heart of God and we see it in so many places in scripture. Over and over again what we see is that God comforts the discouraged.

A. God comforts the discouraged

  • Every one of us knows what discouragement looks like because we've all faced it at one time or another.
  • John's expectation of what the Messiah would do hasn’t been unfulfilled.
  • It's easy for us to have unfulfilled expectations as well. Many people come to God thinking that God should do things this way or that way.

Illus - Jesus certainly shocked the Jewish leaders of the day. He was touching lepers in order to heal them; he was eating with tax collectors and sinners.

  • Many people at one time or another have thought, "If I was the Messiah I would do things differently."

  • See verses 16-19 for here Jesus gives a picture of the fact that people expect God to respond to their expectations rather than trust in what God is doing.

Illus – When I was waiting tables in bible college someone once asked me to say something “religious.”

  • John is in prison and there is no revolution, he's discouraged and sends word to Jesus for an answer. And the answer he receives comforts John and gives him a gentle correction as well.
  • “Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” (Verse 6)

Illus - There are many examples in scripture of great men who became discouraged at one time or another.

Moses became discouraged over the grumbling of the people and in Numbers chapter 11 even said to God..

Numbers 11:11, 15, “Why have You been so hard on your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me?” … “If You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once…”

  • Jeremiah the Prophet became discouraged…

Jeremiah 20:14, “Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me.”

  • After Jezebel threatened to take his life, Elijah ran far away, laid under the shade of a tree and called out asking that God would take his life.
  • But God's answer to Elijah was to comfort and to strengthen him and that God's answer to us as well as it was to John.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 He is the God of all comfort…

2 Corinthians 7:6, But God, who comforts the depressed…

B. God strengthens faith

  • Jesus responded to John questions with a marvelous answer that was no doubt intended to strengthen John’s faith for that is what he needed.
  • “Go tell John [again] what you hear and see…”
  • “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed… John would understand immediately that these are the words of the prophets that spoke of the authority of the coming Messiah.

Isaiah 35:3-10 The blind see, the deaf will hear…

  • These are the very scriptures that should have come to the heart of the Jewish leaders of that day, for all of these gave testimony to the authority of God so that they would know that the Messiah had come.

John 14:11, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

John 10:24-25, The Jews then gathered around Him and were saying to Him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”

  • So Jesus pointed John back to the scriptures and reminds him that God may not be doing what John expected, but God is doing what He promised.

Romans 10:17, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

II. Know Who You are in Christ

  • After the disciples of John went away, Jesus turned to the multitudes and spoke about John.
  • And he spoke of the greatness of who John was.
  • That leads us to some of the difficult words of Jesus. But the significance and meaning of Christ's words are here before us.

A. There was no one greater than John

  • In verse 11 we see these famous words, “Among those born of women, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”
  • He was not a reed shaken by the wind. In other words, he wasn't just tossed here and there by the prevailing winds of the day.

Ephesians 4:14, We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

  • He wasn't concerned about the approval of men by wearing the latest fashions of the day.
  • He was a prophet, but even more than a prophet, he was the one who would introduce God's Messiah.
  • Verse 13, “All the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

Matthew 3:11-12 He who is coming is mightier than I

John 1:29, The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

  • “He is Elijah who is to come,” Jesus said, not just because he looked like Elijah, or was dressed like Elijah, but because he came in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Luke 1:15- 17 He will prepare a people for the Lord.

  • Heaven's opinion of who we are is so different than what we think of ourselves or what others may think of us. Truly God's thoughts are higher than ours and His thoughts about us are higher than ours as well.

B. But the least is greater than John

  • This is one of those amazing sayings of Jesus, that he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. What possibly could this mean?
  • It means that John was the last and greatest of all the prophets of the Old Covenant, but everyone who enters into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has received greater promises.

Hebrews 11:39-40, And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Hebrews 8:6, But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

  • We have become adopted into the family of God so that we can say with all sincerity, “Abba, Father.” We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, we have been raised up with Him, and we are seated with Him even now.

Ephesians 1:18-21 May the eyes of our heart be opened

Ephesians 2:4-7 We are made alive in Christ!

  • God does not measure us according to our latest failings; he measures us according to the fact that we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.
  • We make a mess of our lives when we forget what God says we are then begin to live according to our latest failings.

C. The kingdom of heaven is breaking forth

  • In verse 12 of this chapter we see another of the difficult sayings of Jesus.
  • What does it mean? First, we must see it in context. John was the grand finale of the Old Testament prophets, and introduced the One whom God sent to reconcile the world to God.
  • And through Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is now breaking through the veil, the wall that separated man from God.
  • It is a picture of Jesus being that shepherd that broke through an opening of the sheep-pen so that the sheep may enter the green pastures and find life.

Micah 2:13, “The breaker goes up before them; they break out, pass through the gate and go out by it. So their king goes on before them, and the Lord at their head.”

  • It means this, “The kingdom of heaven is breaking forth and those who strongly desire it take hold of it and break-through also.”
  • John came in the spirit and power of Elijah to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
  • May we also move in the spirit and power of Elijah and make ready a people prepared for the Lord as well.

Matthew 11:1-19         NASB

1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" 4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."
 
7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
 
10 This is the one about whom it is written,
'Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.'
 
11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
 
16 "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
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