In the Fulness of Time/Part 69
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|In reference to the Sabbath, Matthew makes two more important points: 1) that Jesus is greater than the Old Testament Priests; and 2) that the spiritual is greater than the ceremonial.|
Christ Commends John the Baptist’s Ministry. Matthew 11:7-11
John is Strong in Convictions. Matthew 11:7
- Mt. 11:7 “And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?”
Far from criticizing John’s lack of assurance, Jesus points to John’s ministry in positive terms. Several questions are asked for which no answers are given. In verse 7, it has to do with the strength of John’s convictions. Was John like a reed shaken with the wind? The obvious unspoken answer is, “No!” John was just the opposite; no one could shake his belief. He was the only one strong enough to oppose the immorality of Herod, and was put in prison for his steadfastness. It was all the rest of the Jews who were the “reeds,” shaking in fear of Herod!
John is Separated in Character. Matthew 11:8
- Mt. 11:8 “But what went ye out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.”
This question also demands “No!” for an answer. John had separated himself from those who sought the favor of the king. Some of the Jewish elders were sitting in Herod’s house despite his immoral relationships, thus giving approval to his way of life. Those who wore soft clothing were in Herod’s palace; John, who wore rough clothing was in Herod’s prison! The Jews did not go into the wilderness to see another despicable, capitulating character, they went to see John because he was precisely the opposite! They had heard John call these men “a generation of vipers” (Matthew 3:7). Here was a man who had the courage to be different.
John is Special in Calling. Matthew 11:9-10
- Mt. 11:9-10 “But what went ye out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For he it is of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.”
From Matthew 21:26 it is clear that the Jews highly respected John as a prophet; so much so that the chief priests and elders feared to answer why they had not believed John’s message. Even Herod temporarily hesitated to harm him for that same reason (Matthew 14:5). So the answer to the question here is “Yes,” we did go out to see a prophet; but Jesus unexpectedly adds, “and more than a prophet.” How was John more than a prophet? In two ways John was special: he not only prophesied about the Messiah; he also prepared the way for the Messiah. No other prophet was privileged to be the forerunner of the Messiah/King. To this end Jesus actually quoted from the Old Testament to prove the special place John occupied in the plan of God: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me” (Malachi 3:1a). John himself had previously quoted Isaiah 40:3, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah” (John 1:23). He, too, recognized that he was prophesying and being prophesied about. Yet, when Christ appeared with His disciples, John was content to say, “I am not the Christ…. I am sent before him…. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28, 30).