Mat 11:1 KJV And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
Clarke: This verse properly belongs to the preceding chapter, from which it should on no account be separated; as with that it has the strictest connection, but with this it has none.
To teach and to preach – To teach, to give private instructions to as many as came unto him; and to preach, to proclaim publicly, that the kingdom of God is at hand; two grand parts of the duty of a Gospel minister.
Barnes: And it came to pass … – The directions to the apostles were given in the vicinity of Capernaum. The Saviour went from thence to preach in their cities; that is, in the cities in the vicinity of Capernaum, or in Galilee. He did not yet go into Judea.
Mat 11:2 KJV Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
Meyer: The Baptist was languishing in a gloomy dungeon in the castle of Machaerus, on the farther shores of the Dead Sea-like a wild creature of the desert, suddenly entrapped. The darkness of his cell depressed his spirit; it seemed strange, too, if Jesus were the Messiah, that He did not overthrow the tyrant rule of Herod and release His captive friend.
When you are in doubt, go straight to Jesus and ask Him to deal with it! Our Lord did not argue with the messengers sent by John, but pointed to the beneficent works that the Father had given Him to do. See Joh_5:36; also Isa_29:18; Isa_35:5-6. The influence of Christ on individuals and the world is the best testimony to the validity of His claims. The demonstration of Christianity is to be found in its acceptance and practice.
Clarke: John had heard in the prison – John was cast into prison by order of Herod Antipas, Mat_14:3, etc., (where see the notes), a little after our Lord began his public ministry, Mat_4:12; and after the first passover, Joh_3:24.
Barnes: The account contained in this chapter of Matthew, to the Mat_11:19, is found, with no material variation, in Luke 7:18-35. John was in prison. Herod had thrown him into confinement on account of his faithfulness in reproving him for marrying his brother Philip’s wife. See Mat_14:3-4.
Mat 11:3 KJV And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Benson: “Considering what clear evidence John had received by a miraculous sign from heaven that Jesus was the Messiah, (see Joh_1:33,) and what express and repeated testimonies he himself had borne to this truth, it cannot reasonably be supposed that he now doubted of it. But some of his disciples, offended and discouraged by his long imprisonment, as well as the freedom of Christ’s conversation, so different from the austerity used by their master and his disciples, might begin to call it in question, and therefore John might think it necessary to put them in the way of obtaining further satisfaction.” — Doddridge.
Mat 11:4 KJV Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
Russell: Go and shew John When God would make known to us any great truth, he does not confine himself to any one method of proving it, but gives evidence in various ways.
These things — It was by these that the Israelites were to recognize him as the Messiah, in fulfillment of the predictions of the prophets.
Guzik: Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: Jesus wants to assure both John and his disciples that He is the Messiah. But He also reminds them that His power will be displayed mostly in humble acts of service, meeting individual needs – not in a spectacular display of political deliverance.
Mat 11:5 KJV The blind receive their 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.
Isa 61:1 KJV The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Barnes: The poor have the gospel preached to them – It adds to the force of this testimony that the “poor” have always been overlooked by Pharisees and philosophers. No sect of philosophers had condescended to notice them before Christ, and no system of religion had attempted to instruct them before the Christian religion. In all other schemes the poor have been passed by as unworthy of notice.
Gill: and the poor have the Gospel preached them; by “the poor” are meant, either the preachers of the Gospel; for so the words may be rendered, “the poor preach the Gospel”: and such were the apostles of Christ; they were poor with respect to the things of this world; they were chiefly fishermen; and, with respect to human literature, they were unlearned men, had no stock or furniture of acquired learning, and were mean, abject, and contemptible, in the sight and opinion of men; and yet Christ called, qualified, and sent them forth to preach the Gospel. Or else, the hearers of it are designed; who were also the poor of this world, made a very low figure in life, and had but a small share of knowledge and understanding, and so were despised, and reckoned as cursed by the Scribes and Pharisees: or they were such, who were poor in spirit, or spiritually poor; who saw their spiritual poverty, bewailed and acknowledged it, and sought after the true riches of grace, and glory in Christ.
Mat 11:6 KJV And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Guzik: Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me: Jesus knows that this is offensive to the expectation of the Jewish people, who longed for political deliverance from Roman domination. But there was a blessing for those who were not offended because of the Messiah who came against the expectation of the people.
Barnes: And blessed is he … – The word “offence” means a “stumbling-block.” See the notes at Mat_5:29. This verse might be rendered, “Happy is he to whom I shall not prove a stumbling-block.” That is, happy is he who shall not take offence at my poverty and lowliness of life, so as to reject me and my doctrine. Happy is the one who can, notwithstanding that poverty and obscurity, see the evidence that I am the Messiah, and follow me. It is not improbable that John wished Jesus publicly to proclaim himself as the Christ, instead of seeking retirement. Jesus replied that he gave sufficient evidence of that by his works; that a man might discover it if he chose; and that he was blessed or happy who should appreciate that evidence and embrace him as the Christ, in spite of his humble manner of life.
Gill: And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me. The Jews were offended at Christ’s parentage and birth, at the poverty of his parents, and at the manner of his birth, by a virgin; and at the place of his birth, which they thought to be Galilee; at his education, because he had not learnt letters, and was brought up to a mechanical employment; at his mean appearance in his public ministry, in his own person, and in his attendants: his company and audience being the poorer sort, the more ignorant, and who had been loose and scandalous persons, publicans and sinners; at the doctrines he preached… the distinguished grace of God, and living by faith upon his flesh and blood. The disciples of John also were offended in him, because he and his disciples did not fast, and lead such an austere life as they and their master did; because of the meanness and obscurity of Christ’s kingdom; the imprisonment of John, and the many reproaches, afflictions, and persecutions, which did, and were likely to attend a profession of Christ: this our Lord knew, and had a peculiar respect to them in these words; but happy are those persons, who, notwithstanding all these difficulties and discouragements, are so far from stumbling at Christ, and falling from him, that they heartily receive him and believe in him, make a profession of him, and hold it fast; greatly love, highly value, and esteem him, and are willing to part with all, and bear all for his sake: these are blessed, notwithstanding all their sufferings for him even now; they have spiritual peace, joy, and comfort in their souls, and shall be happy in the full enjoyment of him to all eternity.
Mat 11:7 KJV 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?
Mat 11:7 TPT As they were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John. “What kind of man did you see when you went out into the wilderness? Did you expect to see a man who would be easily intimidated?
Russell: A reed — A weak, pliable character, easily shaken.
Shaken with the wind — No! They found John a rugged character, strong, independent in the advocacy of truth.
Barnes: A reed shaken with the wind? – The region of country in which John preached, being overflowed annually by the Jordan, produced great quantities of “reeds” or “canes,” of a light fragile nature, easily shaken by the wind. They were therefore an image of a light, changing, inconstant man. John’s sending to Christ to inquire his character might have led some to suppose that he was changing and inconstant, like a reed. He had once acknowledged him to be the Messiah, and now, being in prison and sending to him to inquire into the fact, they might have supposed he had no firmness or fixed principles. Jesus, by asking this question, declared that, notwithstanding this appearance, this was not the character of John.
Benson: A reed shaken by the wind — That is, a man of an unstable disposition, of a weak and cowardly conduct? In this question, which implies a strong negation, the invincible courage and constancy of the Baptist are applauded. His imprisonment for reproving King Herod showed that he was not afraid of men;
Clarke: A reed shaken with the wind? – An emblem of an irresolute, unsteady mind, which believes and speaks one thing today, and another tomorrow. Christ asks these Jews if they had ever found any thing in John like this: Was he not ever steady and uniform in the testimony he bore to me? The first excellency which Christ notices in John was his steadiness; convinced once of the truth, he continued to believe and assert it. This is essentially necessary to every preacher, and to every private Christian. He who changes about from opinion to opinion, and from one sect or party to another, is never to be depended on; there is much reason to believe that such a person is either mentally weak, or has never been rationally and divinely convinced of the truth.
Mat 11:8 KJV But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
Mat 11:8 TPT Who was he? Did you expect to see a man decked out in the splendid fashion of the day? Those who wear fancy clothes live like kings in palaces.
Barnes: Clothed in soft raiment – The kind of raiment here denoted was the light, thin clothing worn by effeminate persons. It was made commonly of fine linen, and was worn chiefly for ornament. Christ asks them whether they were attracted by anything like that. He says that the desert was not the place to expect it. In the palaces of kings, in the court of Herod, it might be expected, but not in the place where John was. This kind of clothing was an emblem of riches, splendor, effeminacy, feebleness of character. He meant to say that John was a man of a different stamp – coarse in his exterior, hardy in his character, firm in his virtue, suited to endure trials and privations, and thus qualified to be the forerunner of the toiling and suffering Messiah.
Clarke: A man clothed in soft raiment? – A second excellency in John was, his sober and mortified life. A preacher of the Gospel should have nothing about him which savours of effeminacy and worldly pomp: he is awfully mistaken who thinks to prevail on the world to hear him and receive the truth, by conforming himself to its fashions and manners. Excepting the mere color of his clothes, we can scarcely now distinguish a preacher of the Gospel, whether in the establishment of the country, or out of it, from the merest worldly man. Ruffles, powder, and fribble seem universally to prevail. Thus the Church and the world begin to shake hands, the latter still retaining its enmity to God. How can those who profess to preach the doctrine of the cross act in this way? Is not a worldly-minded preacher, in the most peculiar sense, an abomination in the eyes of the Lord?
Are in kings’ houses – A third excellency in John was, he did not affect high things. He was contented to live in the desert, and to announce the solemn and severe truths of his doctrine to the simple inhabitants of the country. Let it be well observed, that the preacher who conforms to the world in his clothing, is never in his element but when he is frequenting the houses and tables of the rich and great.
Mat 11:9 KJV But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
Guzik: A prophet . . . and more than a prophet: Jesus reminds the people that John is God’s chosen herald of the Messiah, not a man-pleaser or a self-pleaser. He was in fact more than a prophet, because he alone had the ministry of serving as the Messiah’s herald. For that, he is the greatest of prophets and the greatest of men (among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist).
Barnes: A prophet? – He next asks whether they went to see a prophet. They had regarded him as such, and Jesus tells them that in this their apprehensions of him were correct.
More than a prophet – Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. Those had been regarded as the most eminent of the prophets who had most clearly predicted the Messiah. Isaiah had been distinguished above all others for the sublimity of his writings, and the clearness with which he had foretold the coming of Christ. Yet John surpassed even him. He lived in the time of the Messiah himself. He predicted his coming with still more clarity. He was the instrument of introducing him to the nation. He was, therefore, first among the prophets.
Russell:A prophet — Declaring the message of repentance, but also foretelling future events: that Jesus was the Lamb of God and that the Lord would baptize people with the holy Spirit and with fire.
More than a prophet — This noble character was God’s chosen servant for heralding the Messiah to Israel.
Mat 11:10 KJV For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Clarke: Behold, I send my messenger – A fifth excellency of the Baptist was, his preparing the way of the Lord; being the instrument, in God’s hand, of preparing the people’s hearts to receive the Lord Jesus; and it was probably through his preaching that so many thousands attached themselves to Christ, immediately on his appearing as a public teacher.
Barnes: Prepare thy way – That is, to prepare “the people;” to make them ready, by proper instructions, to receive the Messiah.
Mat 11:11 KJV Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Mat 11:11 TPT“For I tell you the truth, throughout history there has never been a man who surpasses John the Baptizer. Yet the least of those who now experience heaven’s kingdom realm will become even greater than he.
Bullinger: the kingdom. John was only proclaiming it (but not “in” it).
Russell: Not risen a greater — The most highly honored of all the prophets. Therefore he will share among the highest honors that will come to the ancient worthy class. But he was not great in the eyes of man: never a guest at the palace of Herod, but a prisoner; not an esteemed orator, but “a voice crying in the wilderness”; not arrayed in purple, but in camel’s hair.
John the Baptist — The last of the prophets and the last of the “house of servants.” To him was committed the honorable service of directly announcing the Savior; he discharged his duty with dignity. The forerunner of Jesus.
There will be some least in the Kingdom. — The spiritual phase of the Kingdom. The spirit-begotten Church, joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom.
Is greater than he — John was the last of the faithful under the Jewish dispensation.
John tells us that his joy and privilege was not to be of the Bride, but to be a friend of the Bridegroom and to introduce him.
Reckoned as members of the house of sons, while the prophets belong to the preceding house of servants. Does not imply that John was disappointed. His cup of blessing being full, and never having been begotten of the holy Spirit, he will not be able to appreciate blessings higher than his own.
God had promised him earthly perfection while he had promised the bride of Christ heavenly perfection. John will come forth as a perfect human being, the reward of his faithfulness.
The least one in the heavenly phase shall be greater than the greatest in the visible, earthly phase of the Kingdom. Only the blood-justified could be invited to the High Calling, and John died before the sacrifice was completed.
“God having provided some better thing for us.” (Heb_11:40)
As Christ was to have the pre-eminence in the Kingdom it was necessary that he should be the first member of it.
Wesley: But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he – Which an ancient author explains thus: – “One perfect in the law, as John was, is inferior to one who is baptized into the death of Christ. For this is the kingdom of heaven, even to be buried with Christ, and to be raised up together with him. John was greater than all who had been then born of women, but he was cut off before the kingdom of heaven was given.” [He seems to mean, that righteousness, peace, and joy, which constitute the present inward kingdom of heaven.] “He was blameless as to that righteousness which is by the law; but he fell short of those who are perfected by the spirit of life which is in Christ. Whosoever, therefore, is least in the kingdom of heaven, by Christian regeneration, is greater than any who has attained only the righteousness of the law, because the law maketh nothing perfect.” …
Robertson: The paradox of Jesus has puzzled many. He surely means that John is greater (meizōn) than all others in character, but that the least in the kingdom of heaven surpasses him in privilege. John is the end of one age, “until John” (Mat_11:14), and the beginning of the new era. All those that come after John stand upon his shoulders. John is the mountain peak between the old and the new.
Mat 11:12 KJV And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Mat 11:12 TPT From the moment John stepped onto the scene until now, the realm of heaven’s kingdom is bursting forth, and passionate people have taken hold of its power.
Barnes: And from the days of John … – That is, from the days when John began to preach. It is not known how long this was, but it was not probably more than a year. Our Saviour here simply states a fact. He says there was a great rush or a crowd pressing to hear John. Multitudes went out to hear him, as if they were about to take the kingdom of heaven by force. See Mat_3:5. So, he says, it has continued. Since “the kingdom of heaven,” or “the gospel,” has been preached, there has been a “rush” to it. People have been “earnest” about it; they have come “pressing” to obtain the blessing, as if they would take it by violence. There is allusion here to the manner in which cities were taken. Besiegers “pressed” upon them with violence and demolished the walls. With such “earnestness” and “violence,” he says, people had pressed around him and John since they began to preach. There is no allusion here to the manner in which individual sinners seek salvation, but it is a simple record of the fact that multitudes had thronged around him and John to hear the gospel.
Benson:— The spirits of men are so excited and animated by a desire after this kingdom, that it is, as it were, attacked like a besieged city, men of all sorts pressing to get into it, with a violence like that of men who are taking a place by storm. As if he had said, “Multitudes are flocking around me, to be instructed in the nature of my kingdom; and some, who were formerly of most licentious characters, and looked upon as utterly unfit to be subjects of the Messiah’s kingdom, are resolutely set on enjoying the blessings of it.”
Clarke: The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence – The tax-gatherers and heathens, whom the scribes and Pharisees think have no right to the kingdom of the Messiah, filled with holy zeal and earnestness, seize at once on the proffered mercy of the Gospel, and so take the kingdom as by force from those learned doctors who claimed for themselves the chiefest places in that kingdom. Christ himself said, The tax-gatherers and harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. See the parallel place, Luk_7:28-30. He that will take, get possession of the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and spiritual joy, must be in earnest: all hell will oppose him in every step he takes; and if a man be not absolutely determined to give up his sins and evil companions, and have his soul saved at all hazards, and at every expense, he will surely perish everlastingly. This requires a violent earnestness.
Vincents: uffereth violence (βιάζεται)
Lit., is forced, overpowered, taken by storm. Christ thus graphically portrays the intense excitement which followed John’s ministry; the eager waiting, striving, and struggling of the multitude for the promised king.
The violent take it by force (βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν)
This was proved by the multitudes who followed Christ and thronged the doors where he was, and would have taken him by force (the same word) and made him a king (Joh_6:15). The word take by force means literally to snatch away, carry off. It is often used in the classics of plundering. Meyer renders, Those who use violent efforts, drag it to themselves. So Tynd., They that make violence pull it unto them. Christ speaks of believers. They seize upon the kingdom and make it their own. The Rev., men of violence, is too strong, since it describes a class of habitually and characteristically violent men; whereas the violence in this case is the result of a special and exceptional impulse.
It has been much disputed whether the “violence” here is external, as against the kingdom in the persons of John the Baptist and Jesus; or that, considering the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees, only the violently resolute would press into it. Both things are true. The King and His herald suffered violence, and this is the primary and greater meaning, but also, some were resolutely becoming disciples. CF Luk_16:16.
Mat 11:13 KJV For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
Guzik: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: Jesus sees an era ending with John; all the prophets and the law anticipated John and his ministry as a herald. There is a sense, in which he speaks for every prophet who heralded Jesus’ coming.
Barnes: All the prophets … – It is meant by this verse that John introduced a new dispensation; and that the old one, under which the prophets and the law of Moses were the guide, was closed when he preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. By the “law” is meant here the five books of Moses; by the prophets, the remainder of the books of the Old Testament.
Russell:Until John — John was the last of the prophets.
Mat 11:14 KJV And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
Mat 11:15 KJV He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Barnes: If ye will receive it – This is a mode of speaking implying that the doctrine which he was about to state was different from their common views; that he was about to state something which varied from the common expectation, and which therefore they might be disposed to reject.
This is Elias … – That is, “Elijah.” Elias is the “Greek” mode of writing the Hebrew word “Elijah.” An account of him is found in the first and second books of Kings. He was a distinguished prophet, and was taken up in a chariot of fire, 2Ki_2:11. The prophet Malachi Mal_4:5-6 predicted that “Elijah” would be sent before the coming of the Messiah to prepare the way for him. By this was evidently meant, not that he should appear “in person,” but that one should appear with a striking resemblance to him; or, as Luke Luk_1:17 expresses it, “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” But the Jews understood it differently. They supposed that Elijah would appear in person. They also supposed that Jeremiah and some other of the prophets would appear also to usher in the promised Messiah and to grace his advent. See Mat_16:14; Mat_17:10; Joh_1:21. This prevalent belief was the reason why he used the words “if ye will receive it,” implying that the affirmation that “John” was the promised Elijah was a doctrine contrary to their expectation.
Guzik: And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come: John may also be seen as Elijah, in a partial fulfillment of Mal_4:5. John was not actually Elijah, but he ministers in the same in spirit and power of Elijah, thus fulfilling his “office” (Luk_1:17). Because John was Elijah in this symbolic sense, Jesus added “if you are willing to receive it.”
Benson: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear — A kind of proverbial expression, requiring the deepest attention to what is spoken.
Russell: And if — Intimating that John did not do all that is to be done by Elijah, and hence that a greater Elijah is to be expected.
Ye will receive it — But Israel did not receive John the Baptist as Elias, nor did they receive the Messiah. Therefore, again his presence must be heralded by another, who shall come in the spirit and power of Elias. John’s work as Elijah did not fail because of his own lack of faith, but because of the Jews’ unreadiness of heart to be influenced by him. To those who recognized his message and obeyed it and became the Lord’s disciples, John fulfilled the work of Elijah.
This is Elias — John the Baptist did a reformatory work which was in full accord with the prophecy regarding Elijah. The forerunner of Messiah.
Mat 11:16 KJV But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
Mat 11:17 KJV And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
Mat 11:16-17 TPT “Don’t you understand? How could I describe the people of this generation? You’re like children playing games on the playground, yelling at their playmates, 17 ‘You don’t like it when we want to play Wedding! And you don’t like it when we want to play Funeral! You will neither dance nor mourn.’
Meyer: Our Lord truly estimated the temper of His age. It was fickle, changeable, and hard to please; but beneath its evident superficiality there was a substratum of rock. They refused John because of his austerity, and they refused Jesus because of His human kindness and gentleness. Never trim your sails for the world’s breath. The breeze springs up and soon dies away. Do God’s will!
Guzik: We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament: Those who have a heart to criticize, will find something to criticize. Many people wouldn’t be pleased with either John or Jesus.
Barnes:But whereunto shall I liken … – Christ proceeds to reprove the inconsistency and fickleness of that age of people. He says they were like children – nothing pleased them. He refers here to the “plays” or “sports” of children. … One part are represented as sullen and dissatisfied. They would not enter into the play: nothing pleased them. The others complained of it. We have, said they, taken all pains to please you. We have piped to you, have played lively tunes, and have engaged in cheerful sports, but you would not join with us; and then we have played different games, and imitated the mourning at funerals, and you are equally sullen; “you have not lamented;” you have not joked with us. Nothing pleases you. So, said Christ, is this generation of people. “John” came one way, “neither eating nor drinking,” abstaining as a Nazarite, and you were not pleased with him. I, the Son of man, have come in a different manner, “eating and drinking;” not practicing any austerity, but living like other people, and you are equally dissatisfied – nay, you are less pleased. You calumniate him, and abuse me for not doing the very thing which displeased you in John. Nothing pleases you. You are fickle, changeable, inconstant, and abusive.
Markets – Places to sell provisions; places of concourse, where also children flocked together for play.
We have piped – We have played on musical instruments. A “pipe” was a wind instrument of music often used by shepherds.
Expositors: 2. The Unreasonableness of the People. (Mat_11:16-19)
Unable to recognise the true significance of the events of the time, with deaf ears to the heavenly message which first the herald and then the King had brought them, they fastened their attention on that which was merely incidental: the asceticism of John, the social friendliness of Jesus. Of the first they complained, because it was not like the second; of the second they complained, because it was not like the first. Any excuse for a complaint; no ear to hear nor soul to appreciate the message of either. To what can He liken them? To a set of children, sitting in the market-place indeed, but with no thought of business in their heads: they are there only to amuse themselves: and even in their games they are as unreasonable as they can be. One set proposes to play a wedding, and the rest say, “No, we want a funeral”; then, when the others take it up and start the game of funeral, they change their tune, and say, “No, we prefer a wedding.” Nothing will please those who have no intention to be satisfied. Caring nothing for the kingdom which John heralded, the multitude only noticed the peculiarity of his garb, and the stern solitariness of his life, and said he must be a lunatic. When the King Himself comes with no such peculiarity, but mingling on familiar and friendly terms with the people, still caring nothing for the kingdom which He preached, they and fault with Him for the very qualities the absence of which they deprecated in John. If they had acted, not as foolish children, but as wise men, they would have recognised that both were right, inasmuch as each was true to himself and to the position he filled. It was right and fitting that the last of the old prophets should be rugged and stern and solitary, even as the great Elijah, in whose spirit and power he came. It was no less right and fit that the Saviour-King of men should set out on new lines and introduce the new dispensation in a manner suited to its distinctive features of freedom and familiar friendliness. Thus, in the one case, and in the other, “wisdom is justified of her children.”
Gill:But whereunto shall I liken this generation? The men of that age, the stubborn and perverse Jews; who were pleased with nothing, with no man’s ministry, neither with John’s, nor with Christ’s, but found fault with whatever they heard, or saw done:
Vincent’s: Diminutive, little children. The Rev. Donald Fraser gives the picture simply and vividly: “He pictured a group of little children playing at make-believe marriages and funerals. First they acted a marriage procession; some of them piping as on instruments of music, while the rest were expected to leap and dance. In a perverse mood, however, these last did not respond, but stood still and looked discontented. So the little pipers changed their game and proposed a funeral. They began to imitate the loud wailing of eastern mourners. But again they were thwarted, for their companions refused to chime in with the mournful cry and to beat their breasts….So the disappointed children complained: ‘We piped unto you and ye did not dance; we wailed, and ye did not mourn. Nothing pleases you. If you don’t want to dance, why don’t yon mourn?…It is plain that yon are in bad humor, and determined not to be pleased’” (“Metaphors in the Gospels”). The issue is between the Jews (this generation) and the children of wisdom, Mat_11:19.
Mat 11:18 KJV For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Gill: For John came neither eating nor drinking,…. This and the following verse are an explanation of the foregoing “parable”; and this shows, that John and his disciples are the persons that mourned, of which his austere life was a proof: for when he “came”, being sent of God, and appeared as a public preacher, he was “neither eating nor drinking”; not that he did not eat or drink at all, otherwise he could not have lived, and discharged his office: but he ate sparingly, very little; and what he did eat and drink, was not the common food and drink of men; he neither ate bread nor drank wine, but lived upon locusts and wild honey; he excused all invitations to people’s houses, and shunned all feasts and entertainments; he abstained from all free and sociable conversation with men, in eating and drinking: and though the Scribes and Pharisees pretended to much abstinence and frequent fastings, yet they did not care to follow his very severe way of living, and lament, in answer to his mournful ditty; but in a calumniating way,
they say he hath a devil; is a demoniac, a madman, one that is unsociable and melancholy; under a delusion of Satan, and influenced by him to abstain from proper food and company of men, under a pretence of religion.
Mat 11:19 KJV The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Guzik: But wisdom is justified by her children: However, the wise man is shown by his wise actions (her children), such as the wisdom to accept both Jesus and John for what they were and what were called to be.
Barnes: Neither eating nor drinking – That is, abstaining from some kinds of food and wine, as a Nazarite. It does not mean that he did not eat at all, but that he was remarkable for abstinence.
He hath a devil – He is actuated by a bad spirit. He is irregular, strange, and cannot be a good man.
The Son of man came eating and drinking – That is, living as others do; not practicing austerity; and they accuse him of being fond of excess, and seeking the society of the wicked.
Gluttonous – One given to excessive eating.
Wine-bibber – One who drinks much wine. Jesus undoubtedly lived according to the general customs of the people of his time. He did not affect singularity; he did not separate himself as a Nazarite; he did not practice severe austerities. He ate that which was common and drank that which was common. As wine was a common article of beverage among the people, he drank it.
Wisdom is justified of her children – The children of wisdom are the wise – those who understand. The Saviour means that though that generation of Pharisees and fault-finders did not appreciate the conduct of John and himself, yet the “wise,” the candid – those who understood the reasons of their conduct – would approve of and do justice to it.
Clarke: They say, Behold a man gluttonous, etc. – Whatever measures the followers of God may take, they will not escape the censure of the world: the best way is not to be concerned at them. Iniquity, being always ready to oppose and contradict the Divine conduct, often contradicts and exposes itself.
But wisdom is justified of her children – Those who follow the dictates of true wisdom ever justify, point out as excellent, the holy maxims by which they are guided, for they find the way pleasantness, and the path, peace. Of, here, and in many places of our translation, ought to be written by in modern English. Some suppose that our blessed Lord applies the epithet of η σοφια, that Wisdom to himself; as he does that of Son of man, in the first clause of the verse: and that this refers to the sublime description given of wisdom in Proverbs 8. Others have supposed that by the children or sons (τεκνων) of wisdom our Lord means John Baptist and himself, who came to preach the doctrines of true wisdom to the people, and who were known to be teachers come from God by all those who seriously attended to their ministry: they recommending themselves, by the purity of their doctrines, and the holiness of their lives, to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. It is likely, however, that by children our Lord simply means the fruits or effects of wisdom, according to the Hebrew idiom, which denominates the fruits or effects of a thing, its children. … Wisdom is vindicated by her works, i.e. the good effects prove that the cause is excellent.
The children of true wisdom can justify all God’s ways in their salvation; as they know that all the dispensations of Providence work together for the good of those who love and fear God. See on Luk_7:35 (note).
Russell: And they say — Similarly we may be charged with pride and ambition for making use of business methods to promulgate the “good tidings.”
A man gluttonous — There is nothing that either God or his people can do that the Adversary, and those who have his spirit, cannot use as an occasion for faultfinding.
But wisdom — The divine wisdom, divine truth. Expressed in the Scriptures and in the laws of nature.
Is justified — Proved right, accepted.
Gill:a friend of publicans and sinners; such as are openly and notoriously wicked; and loves their company, for the sake of tippling with them; and encourages them in their revelling and drunkenness; a very black charge this!
But wisdom is justified of her children; either the wisdom of God, in making use of ministers of a different disposition and deportment, whereby some are gained, and others left inexcusable: or the Gospel, in which there is such a display of divine wisdom, which is vindicated from the charge of licentiousness, by the agreeable lives and conversations of the children of God: or rather Christ himself, who is the wisdom of God; and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; who, however he may be traduced by ignorant and malicious men, yet will be acquitted from all such charges, as here insinuated, by all the true sons of wisdom; or by such, who are made wise unto salvation. We may learn from hence, that no sort of preachers and preaching will please some men; that the best of Gospel ministers may be reproached as libertines, or madmen; and that they will be sooner, or later, justified and cleared from all such aspersions.
Popular NT: friend of publicans and sinners. Thoroughly worldly people seek to parry the claims of spiritual truth by assailing its teachers, in childish petulance, with such contradictory accusations, extending their criticisms to dress, food, expression of countenance, cut of the beard and parting of the hair. Much time has been wasted in trying to satisfy those ‘sitting in the markets’ and playing there. Those who hate the truth will hate its representatives and will never understand their principles, or be satisfied with their practice. To our own Master we stand or fall.
And, or, ‘and yet,’ in opposition to this childish conduct, Wisdom, the wisdom of God, personified here as in the Book of Proverbs, was justified; not ‘is,’ nor ‘will be.’
By, or ‘from,’ her works. The common reading here is borrowed from Luk_7:35 : ‘by all her children.’ The general sense is the same; here the reference is to the actions of these children of wisdom. The judgments of the world are childish, those of the children of wisdom are childlike, in humility and faith, and their ‘works’ correspond. The result in their case has justified the wisdom of God’s method.
Mat 11:20 KJV Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Matthew 11:20 TPT Then Jesus began to openly denounce the cities where he had done most of his mighty miracles, because the people failed to turn away from sin and return to God.
Benson: Then began he to upbraid the cities — Which he had often blessed with his presence, and in which he had preached many awakening sermons, and performed many astonishing miracles. It is observable, he had never upbraided them before. Indeed, at first they had received him with all gladness, Capernaum in particular.
We see a change in Jesus’ protocol.
Russell: To upbraid — Not in the form of a tirade of scolding and abuse, but a simple statement of the facts.
They repented not — The majority rejected his Messiahship. Not for rejecting the favor of the Kingdom, but for the sinful condition which hindered their acceptance of it. They were so sinful, so alienated from God, that very evidently they would be worthy of serious punishment.
Because the “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.” (2Co_4:4)
Gill:Then began he to upbraid the cities,…. When he had sent forth his disciples to preach, and had been in these several cities hereafter mentioned himself, and had taught and preached in them, and confirmed his doctrine by many wonderful works; when he had observed how ill they had used both John and himself, representing the one as having a devil, and the other as a licentious person; when they could not be pleased with the ministry of the one, nor of the other, he very seasonably and righteously began to reproach them with their ungenerous treatment of him, their ingratitude to him, their unbelief in him, the hardness and impenitence of their hearts; which could not be moved to repent of their evil ways, and believe in him, and acknowledge him as the Messiah, by all the instructions he gave them, and miracles he wrought among them: for the cities he has a view to, were such,
because they repented not: not because they did not commend him, and speak well of his works, for he sought not his own glory, but their good: all he did was, in order to bring men to repentance of their sins, and faith in himself, that they might be saved.
Guzik:He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: Because most of His mighty works were done in these cities, they experienced a greater light – which required a greater accountability.
i. Of course, we in the Western world have a tremendous accountability before God. We have had an access to the gospel that no other society has, yet we are in desperate need of repentance.
Mat 11:21 KJV Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Benson: Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities of Galilee, standing by the lake of Gennesareth, in which and the neighbouring places Jesus spent a great part of his public life.
The great miracles, which were done in you, had been done [of old] in Tyre and Sidon — Though cities inhabited by heathen, and remarkable for their luxury, pride, and contempt of religion, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes– That is, they would have exercised the deepest repentance, for sackcloth and ashes were used by the Jews in token of the bitterest grief.
Russell: Woe unto thee — You have had more knowledge and opportunity, and you have a responsibility therefore; it means more disadvantage.
In Tyre and Sidon — Notoriously unholy, licentious, unclean cities.
Barnes: Bethsaida means literally a “house of hunting” or “a house of game,” and it was probably situated on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, and supported itself by hunting or fishing. It was the residence of Philip, Andrew, and Peter, Joh_1:44. It was enlarged by Philip the Tetrarch, and called “Julia,” after the emperor’s daughter.
Tyre and Sidon – These were cities of Phoenicia, formerly very opulent, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and were in the western part of Judea. They were therefore well known to the Jews.
Tyre was situated about 20 miles south of Sidon. It was built partly on a small island about 70 paces from the shore, and partly on the mainland. It was a city of great extent and splendor, and extensive commerce. It abounded in luxury and wickedness. It was often besieged. It held out against Shalmaneser five years, and was taken by Nebuchadnezzar after a siege of “thirteen” years. It was afterward rebuilt, and was at length taken by Alexander the Great, after a most obstinate siege of five months. There are no signs now of the ancient city. It is the residence only of a few miserable fishermen, and contains, amid the ruins of its former magnificence, only a few huts. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel: “Thou shalt be built no more; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again” Eze_26:21.
In sackcloth and ashes – Sackcloth was a coarse cloth, like canvas, used for the dress of the poor, and for the more common articles of domestic economy. It was worn also as a sign of mourning. The Jews also frequently threw ashes on their heads as expressive of grief, Job_1:21; Job_2:12; Jer_6:26. The meaning is, that they would have repented with “expressions of deep sorrow.” Like Nineveh, they would have seen their guilt and danger, and would have turned from their iniquities. “Heathen” cities would have received him better than the cities of the Jews, his native land,
Mat 11:22 KJV But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Russell:More tolerable — Because their sin had been against less light and privilege.
The greater the light rejected, the more will be the stripes received.
For Tyre and Sidon — Two flourishing Gentile cities, very full of wickedness and immorality, so that their names were synonymous for that which was unholy, licentious, unclean. With their gross immoralities but better condition of heart.
These heathen cities would have repented with far less preaching.
Day of judgment — The thousand years of his Messianic reign.
Than for you — With superior morality, but an evil condition of heart. Those who heard Jesus, unmoved, had hardened their hearts and would be correspondingly disadvantaged in the judgment day.
Mat 11:23 KJV And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Benson: And thou, Capernaum, &c. — He mentions Capernaum separately by itself, and last of all, because, being the place of his ordinary residence, it had been blessed with more of his sermons and miracles than any other town. Nevertheless it abounded with wickedness of all kinds, and therefore he compared it to that city which, on account of the greatness of its crimes, had been the most terrible example of the divine displeasure that ever the world had beheld. It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, &c. — That is, the condition of the inhabitants even of the land of Sodom, in the day of the final judgment, shall be more tolerable than thy condition. For thy condemnation shall rise in proportion to thy more aggravated guilt, and to those more valuable mercies and privileges which thou hast abused. As Doddridge justly observes, “There is no evidence that the destruction of those cities was more dreadful than that of Tyre and Sidon, and it was certainly less so than that of Sodom and Gomorrah: besides, our Lord plainly speaks of a judgment that was yet to come on all these places that he mentions.”
Gill: wherein most of his mighty works were done; the most for number, and the greatest in their kind; as particularly at Capernaum; where he cured the centurion’s servant, recovered Peter’s wife’s mother from a fever, healed the man sick of a palsy, raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead, made whole the woman that had a bloody issue, opened the eyes of two blind men, and cast out a devil from a dumb man, possessed with one: all these, and more, he did in this one city, and therefore he might justly upbraid them,
Russell: Thou Capernaum — Who thought themselves quite respectable, church-going people. Capernaum was favored above all other cities of Palestine because there our Lord did most of his miracles and preaching.
Exalted unto heaven — Highly lifted up in privileges of knowledge, opportunity and divine favor and blessing. Highly exalted by having Christ as a resident. E376;
Brought down to hell — Greek: hades, the grave, oblivion; because they received not the message.
Fulfilled in the trouble which came upon the Jews and which destroyed their nationality. Even the site where Capernaum stood is a matter of dispute.Not only the Sodomites, but the city in which they lived, is spoken of as going down to hell, and there are other cities there.
Been done in Sodom — The Sodomites were not so great sinners as were the Jews who had more knowledge.
Barnes:Which art exalted to heaven – This is an expression used to denote great privileges. He meant that they were especially favored with instruction. The city was prosperous. It was signally favored by its wealth. Most of all, it was signally favored by the presence, the preaching, and the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here he spent a large portion of his time in the early part of his ministry, and in Capernaum and its neighborhood he performed his chief miracles.
Shalt be brought down to hell – The word “hell” is used here, not to denote a place of punishment in the future world, but a state of “desolation and destructions.” It stands in contrast with the word “heaven.” As their being exalted to heaven did not mean that the “people” would all be saved or dwell in heaven, so their being brought down to “hell” refers to the desolation of the “city.” Their privileges, honors, wealth, etc., would be taken away, and they would sink as low among cities as they had been before exalted. This has been strictly fulfilled. In the wars between the Jews and the Romans, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc., were so completely desolated that it is difficult to determine their former situation.
Clarke: The word hell, used in the common translation, conveys now an improper meaning of the original word; because hell is only used to signify the place of the damned. But, as the word hell comes from the Anglo-Saxon, helan, to cover, or hide, hence the tiling or slating of a house is called, in some parts of England (particularly Cornwall) heling, to this day; and the covers of books (in Lancashire) by the same name: so the literal import of the original word Αδης was formerly well expressed by it. Here it means a state of the utmost wo, and ruin, and desolation, to which these impenitent cities should be reduced. This prediction of our Lord was literally fulfilled; for, in the wars between the Romans and the Jews, these cities were totally destroyed, so that no traces are now found of Bethsaida, Chorazin, or Capernaum.
Gill: shalt be brought down to hell; meaning, it should be attended with very humbling providences, be reduced to a very low condition, see Isa_14:15 be destroyed and laid waste, as a city, as it was in the times of Vespasian; and the inhabitants of it not only punished with temporal, but everlasting destruction;
Mat 11:24 KJV But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Clarke: The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah happened A. M. 2107, which was 1897 years before the incarnation. What a terrible thought is this! It will be more tolerable for certain sinners, who have already been damned nearly four thousand years, than for those who, live and die infidels under the Gospel! There are various degrees of punishments in hell, answerable to various degrees of guilt, and the contempt manifested to, and the abuse made of; the preaching of the Gospel, will rank semi-infidel Christians in the highest list of transgressors, and purchase them the hottest place in hell! Great God! save the reader from this destruction!
Brother Clarke seems to have gotten the wrong idea of Jesus’ declaration.
Have the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah been in torment for over 4 thousand years?
What is the “Day of Judgment”?
When is the “Day of Judgement”?
Russell: More tolerable —There will be rewards and “stripes” according to the deeds of the present life, as well as according to their conduct under that trial.
It will be a tolerable time for Capernaum, and yet more tolerable for Sodom. Capernaum had sinned against greater light. Sodom and Gomorrah will rise up as superior to some of the Jews. Inasmuch as they had superior advantages to others which they neglected, they would be correspondingly less benefited by the Millennial blessings and mercies of God.
Their rejection of him much more resembled the condition of wicked rebellion against God that would lead to the second death than did the conduct of the Sodomites.
Land of Sodom — The eternal fate of the Sodomites is not sealed: “Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate.” (Eze_16:55) Our Lord guarantees them a full opportunity. Showing conclusively that all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth–to be judged and tried. The death of the Sodomites, therefore, was merely the Adamic death hastened; not the Second Death.
Day of judgment — The 1000 year day of Messiah’s reign in which judgment, or trial, will be granted to the world. Showing that no judgment had as yet been reached in any of these cases.
Many of the heathen, who have enjoyed little or nothing of God’s grace, will be in a more favorable condition than some neglectful ones who are now richly favored.
Mat 11:25 KJV At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Guzik: If we do respond to Jesus, it is because the Father has revealed these things to babes like us.
What a moment! If God hides these things—these truths from certain people—what chance have they to escape damnation? How do we harmonize this with a God of love?
How does that harmonize with this scripture?
2 Peter 3:9 KJV The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Let’s look at the verse before and see that it correlates with verse 24 of Matthew 11.
2 Peter 3:8 KJV But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Is the Day of the Lord and the Day of Judgement the same thing?
Russell:And said — Offered audible prayer in the presence of fellow-believers.
I thank thee Lord — He appreciated the Father’s wisdom in not allowing any but those of proper heart condition to see and clearly understand the present call of the Church.
It is utterly impossible to harmonize such a statement with the common, but unscriptural, view that they had gone or were going to a place of eternal torment.
Hid these things — This gracious plan which provides such wonderful future opportunities for the poor Sodomites.
From the wise — The worldly-wise, by permitting contempt and ridicule to be attached thereto. Particularly the wise residents of Capernaum and Bethsaida.
The Pharisees were too self-satisfied, the scribes too learned, and the Doctors of the Law too proud and pretentious, because they were under the influence of mammon.
“The wisdom of their wise men shall perish and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa_29:14)
Who regard it as a fancy, a fairy story, which none but the simple-minded and children would take seriously.
And prudent — Prudent according to the world’s standards–preferring numbers, popularity and honor among men and the financial emoluments of these rather than the truth. Too prudent.
Unto babes — So far as human craft and policy are concerned; the honest-hearted, the unsophisticated, the meek and poor in spirit. The Lord’s “little ones”–meek, humble, teachable. Those who are of humble mind, ready to be taught of the Lord, instead of wishing to teach the Lord.
From the worldly standpoint, foolish babes to place so much reliance upon the things unseen as yet and to ignore the prospects held out by mammon in the present life.
Mat 11:26 KJV Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isa_55:9)
Russell: God was (is) hiding from mankind truths which are necessary for their salvation; hiding these for good, sufficient, wise and loving reasons–reasons which our Lord understood and also approved. If the hiding of divine counsel from mankind meant eternal torture for the blinded ones, Jesus could not have thanked the Father for that.
Mat 11:27 KJV All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Guzik: Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him: As well, the Father can only be known through the Son, as He chooses to reveal the Father to us
There are a lot of questions that have to come up in these verses. Why is does Jesus selectively reveal God to people?
Russell:All things — To him the Father has given all power in earth and heaven. (Mat_28:19) “He is Lord of all”–next to the Father, for “the head of Christ is God.” (1Co_11:3)
No man knoweth — Recognizeth.
The disciples knew him as a man, but they did not understand the secret of his wonderful being–his prehuman glory.
Neither knoweth — To know the Father and the Son in the intimate sense as one knows the mind, the heart, of an intimate friend. R2625:1
Save the Son — Whose prehuman fellowship with the Father, lasting for centuries, was impressed with sufficient clearness upon our Lord, after he was made flesh, to enable him to say “What he hath seen and heard, that he testifies.” (Joh_3:32)
Son will reveal him — All we can know is what is revealed.
If it pleased the Lord to make known to us some things of his glorious purposes, it would be disrespectful on our part not to feel a deep interest in them and seek to know more.
Mat 11:28 KJV Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Guzik: All you who labor and are heaven laden: Jesus directs His call to those who are burdened. He calls those who sense they must come to Him to relieve their need, instead of living in self-sufficiency.
Russell:Come unto me — Not unto some sect. A call or invitation to exercise faith in the Lord, to come out on his side, to accept his deliverance from the yoke of sin and death.
“No man can come unto the Father but by me.” (Joh_14:6)
All ye that labor — The Lord does not invite the listless and idle.
May have a measure of application to farm labor, etc., but its special significance is to labor of the heart.
The Bible addresses itself, primarily, not to the ambitious and hopeful, but to the laboring and heavy-laden and despairing. The poor, the broken-hearted.
There are two classes of laborers: the world, laboring for things of the present life; and the followers of the Lord who “labor not for the meat that perisheth” (Joh_6:27) but for that which endureth unto life eternal.
And are heavy laden — Either from the yoke of the Law, as the believing Jews, or from the yoke of Satan, as the believing Gentiles. Despised and grief-stricken. Unsatisfied. Weary and almost discouraged with their failure.
Will give you rest — The blessing of justification by faith is merely to fit and prepare us to take the yoke and become a co-laborer with the Lord in the Father’s service.
There is no rest for the weary at heart except in union with Christ.
The present rest of faith will by and by be superseded by the actual rest of the Kingdom.
Mat 11:29 KJV Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Guzik: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me: Jesus makes a wonderful offer, inviting us to take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. We must come as disciples to learn, willing to be guided by His yoke – not merely to “receive” something.
d. For I am gentle and lowly in heart: Jesus displays His nature when He describes Himself as gentle and lowly of heart. It is His servant’s heart, displayed throughout His ministry, that qualifies Him to be the one who bears our burdens.
e. And you will find rest for your souls: Jesus describes His gift to His followers as rest for your soul. This gift is as simple as it is powerful and profound.
Russell:Take my yoke — A yoke signifies servitude. Not any sectarian yoke.
The figure being that of an ox yoked to a cart with a load.
Bind yourself, time, influence, means, opportunities, all, to the Lord’s service. This is an invitation, not a command of obedience to the divine will. He invites us to come and make a full consecration of ourselves to him and his service.
All in the world are under yokes of some kind–political yokes, social yokes, financial or business yokes, yokes of sin, of selfishness, of pride, etc.
A yoke is generally arranged for two, and our Lord speaks of it as his yoke, by which we are to understand that he is also a servant.
And learn of me — I will be your partner, will take the other side of the yoke with you. Do not attempt to guide yourself. Not until we have taken the Lord into our daily life as our personal companion, confidential friend, counselor, comforter and guide, as well as Redeemer and Lord, can we fully learn those lessons which give joy.
I am meek — The secret of rest is in a meek and quiet spirit. Teachable. Even in his perfection, these were things to be learned.
Lowly in heart — The quiet spirit will humbly submit to the easy yoke of the divine will and cease the strife to gratify the perverted human will.
Rest unto your souls — Rest from the vain ambitions and fruitless works and plans which other taskmasters would force upon us. Rest in him, our true Yoke-Fellow.
Mat 11:30 KJV For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
GuziK: My yoke is easy and My burden is light: Jesus summarizes this wonderful call with this. The yoke is light and the burden is easy because He bears it with us.
i. When training a new animal (such as an ox) to plow, ancient farmers would often yoke it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who would bear the burden and guide the young animal through his learning.
ii. If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, then it isn’t His yoke or burden, and you aren’t letting Him bear it with you. Jesus said it plainly: My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Russell:For my yoke — We have bound ourselves unto the Lord with a covenant of faithfulness unto sacrifice, sacrifice unto death. As compared with the yoke of politics, society, business, sin, selfishness or pride.
Is easy — To the world, consecration looks like a terrible yoke, but to the true child of God it seems a most reasonable service. Easy for those whom it fits. Because of his love to us and our love to him.
Because our yoke is appreciated and because the Lord is with us in the yoke. Our burdens are his burdens, our trials his trials, and our interests his interests.
Because all things work together for good–the heavier the burden, the greater the blessing and reward.
A yoke that does not fit an animal will chafe him and cause restlessness; whereas a yoke that is properly fitted will be comfortable and make the load more easily drawn.
Few would say the Apostle Paul’s was an easy yoke, but evidently he thought so, counting it a privilege to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ.
My burden is light — Much lighter than the yoke and burden of sin. No one is required to do more than he is able to perform. The Lord himself is the great burden-bearer of those who are yoked with him. He will not suffer them to be burdened with more than is for their good.
Gill: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Christ calls a profession of faith in him, and subjection to his ordinances, a yoke, in allusion to the law of Moses, and in distinction from it; and a “burden”, with respect to the very heavy ones the Scribes and Pharisees laid upon the shoulders of the people, obliging them to a strict observance of them; though of a different nature from either of them; “for his commandments are not grievous”, hard and heavy to be borne, as their’s were, but “easy and light”: not that they are so to unregenerate men, or are easily performed by the strength of nature, and power of men’s free will: but they are good and amiable, and lovely in their own nature, and are cheerfully complied with, and abundance of spiritual pleasure and delight is enjoyed in them by believers, when they have the presence of God, the assistance of his Spirit, and the discoveries of his love. Moreover, the commands of Christ, and the ordinances of the Gospel, are so in comparison of the law of Moses; which required perfect obedience, but gave no strength to perform, and threatened with condemnation and death, in case of the least failure; and of the numerous, and some very severe rites and usages of the ceremonial law; and of the bulky and heavy traditions of the elders, and ordinances of men.