What does it say?
Matthew 11 finds Jesus once again on a preaching tour of Galilee. As opposition to Jesus’ ministry grows, even John the Baptist wrestles with doubt and sends messengers to Jesus to ask if he is really the Messiah. Jesus responds by pointing to the works that he is doing are the fulfillment of the prophets. As the messengers return to John, Jesus addresses the crowds to reaffirm John’s ministry and point out that he, too, is the fulfillment of what the prophets have spoken.
Jesus rebukes the cities where he has done the most signs because they have not yet believed, and he warns them of judgment to come. In contrast to those who reject him, Jesus extends a beautiful invitation to for all to come to him and find rest for their souls.
What does it mean?
Responding to John the Baptist’s doubts, Jesus points to the prophets to show that his healings and miracles are not random but rather specific fulfillment of scripture. What is true of Jesus is also true of John – he is the fulfillment of the prophets. This is the message that Jesus gives to the crowds. John fulfills what both Isaiah and Malachi saw (Mat 11:10; Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1-2). He is the forerunner of the Messiah. What Jesus says in Matthew 11:11 means that the least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John, because though no one born of women is greater than John, the least in the kingdom is born of God (John 1:12; 3:3). Jesus’ condemnation of Chorazim, Bethsaida and Capernaum (11:20-24) is because they were the first to see the light (Mat 4:12-16) in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2. Greater light results in greater condemnation.
How will I respond?
What is written on me in the scriptures? What is one scriptural promise that applies to me (in the company of other believers, of course)? Am I living according to what is written of me like John and Jesus did? What other promises of scriptures that apply to me need to be activated by faith in my life today? Millions of people have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Like the cities of Galilee, my responsibility is greater.