Mt 11:1-19. The Imprisoned
Baptist's Message to His Master—The Reply, and Discourse, on the Departure of the
Messengers, Regarding John and His Mission. ( = Lu 7:18-35).
1. And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end
of commanding his twelve disciple—rather, "the twelve
he departed thence to teach and to preach in
their cities—This was scarcely a fourth circuit—if we
may judge from the less formal way in which it was expressed—but,
perhaps, a set of visits paid to certain places, either not reached at
all before, or too rapidly passed through, in order to fill up the time
till the return of the Twelve. As to their labors, nothing is said of
them by our Evangelist. But Luke (Lu 9:6) says, "They departed, and went through,
the towns," or "villages," "preaching the Gospel, and healing
everywhere." Mark (Mr 6:12, 13), as usual, is more explicit: "And they
went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many
devils (demons) and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed
them." Though this "anointing with oil" was not mentioned in our Lord's
instructions—at least in any of the records of them—we know
it to have been practiced long after this in the apostolic Church (see
5:14, and compare Mr 6:12,
medicinally, but as a sign of the healing virtue which was
communicated by their hands, and a symbol of something still more
precious. It was unction, indeed, but, as Bengel remarks, it was something very different from
what Romanists call extreme unction. He adds, what is very
probable, that they do not appear to have carried the oil about with
them, but, as the Jews used oil as a medicine, to have employed it just
as they found it with the sick, in their own higher way.
2. Now when John had heard in the
prison—For the account of this imprisonment, see on Mr 6:17-20.
the works of Christ, he sent,
&c.—On the whole passage, see on Lu
Mt 11:20-30. Outburst of
Feeling Suggested to the Mind of Jesus by the Result of His Labors in
The connection of this with what goes before it and
the similarity of its tone make it evident, we think, that it was
delivered on the same occasion, and that it is but a new and more
comprehensive series of reflections in the same strain.
20. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein
most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.
21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin!—not
elsewhere mentioned, but it must have lain near Capernaum.
woe unto thee,
Bethsaida—"fishing-house," a fishing station—on the
western side of the Sea of Galilee, and to the north of Capernaum; the
birthplace of three of the apostles—the brothers Andrew and
Peter, and Philip. These two cities appear to be singled out to denote
the whole region in which they lay—a region favored with the
Redeemer's presence, teaching, and works above every other.
for if the mighty works—the
which were done in you had been done in Tyre and
Sidon—ancient and celebrated commercial cities, on the
northeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, lying north of Palestine,
and the latter the northernmost. As their wealth and prosperity
engendered luxury and its concomitant evils—irreligion and moral
degeneracy—their overthrow was repeatedly foretold in ancient
prophecy, and once and again fulfilled by victorious enemies. Yet they
were rebuilt, and at this time were in a flourishing condition.
they would have repented long ago in sackcloth
and ashes—remarkable language, showing that they had done
less violence to conscience, and so, in God's sight, were less criminal
than the region here spoken of.
22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you—more
23. And thou, Capernaum—(See on Mt 4:13).
which art exalted unto heaven—Not even
of Chorazin and Bethsaida is this said. For since at Capernaum Jesus
had His stated abode during the whole period of His public life which
He spent in Galilee, it was the most favored spot upon earth,
the most exalted in privilege.
shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty
works, which have been done in thee, had been done in
Sodom—destroyed for its pollutions.
it would have remained until this
day—having done no such violence to conscience, and so
incurred unspeakably less guilt.
24. But I say unto you, That it shall be more
tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for
thee—"It has been indeed," says Dr. Stanley, "more tolerable, in one sense, in the day
of its earthly judgment, for the land of Sodom than for Capernaum; for
the name, and perhaps even the remains of Sodom are still to be found
on the shores of the Dead Sea; while that of Capernaum has, on the Lake
of Gennesareth, been utterly lost." But the judgment of which our Lord
here speaks is still future; a judgment not on material cities, but
their responsible inhabitants—a judgment final and
25. At that time Jesus answered and
said—We are not to understand by this, that the previous
discourse had been concluded, and that this is a record only of
something said about the same period. For the connection is most close,
and the word "answered"—which, when there is no one to answer,
refers to something just before said, or rising in the mind of the
speaker in consequence of something said—confirms this. What
Jesus here "answered" evidently was the melancholy results of His
ministry, lamented over in the foregoing verses. It is as if He had
said, "Yes; but there is a brighter side to the picture; even in those
who have rejected the message of eternal life, it is the pride of their
own hearts only which has blinded them, and the glory of the truth does
but the more appear in their inability to receive it. Nor have all
rejected it even here; souls thirsting for salvation have drawn water
with joy from the wells of salvation; the weary have found rest; the
hungry have been filled with good things, while the rich have been sent
I thank thee—rather, "I assent to
thee." But this is not strong enough. The idea of "full" or
"cordial" concurrence is conveyed by the preposition. The thing
expressed is adoring acquiescence, holy satisfaction with that law of
the divine procedure about to be mentioned. And as, when He afterwards
uttered the same words, He "exulted in spirit" (see on Lu 10:21), probably He did the same now, though not
O Father, Lord of heaven and earth—He
so styles His Father here, to signify that from Him of right emanates
all such high arrangements.
because thou hast hid these things—the
knowledge of these saving truths.
from the wise and prudent—The former
of these terms points to the men who pride themselves upon their
speculative or philosophical attainments; the latter to the men of
worldly shrewdness—the clever, the sharp-witted, the men of
affairs. The distinction is a natural one, and was well understood.
1:19, &c.). But why had
the Father hid from such the things that belonged to their peace, and
why did Jesus so emphatically set His seal to this arrangement? Because
it is not for the offending and revolted to speak or to speculate, but
to listen to Him from whom we have broken loose, that we may learn
whether there be any recovery for us at all; and if there be, on what
principles—of what nature—to what ends. To bring our own
"wisdom and prudence" to such questions is impertinent and
presumptuous; and if the truth regarding them, or the glory of it, be
"hid" from us, it is but a fitting retribution, to which all the
right-minded will set their seal along with Jesus.
hast revealed them unto babes—to
babe-like men; men of unassuming docility, men who, conscious that they
know nothing, and have no right to sit in judgment on the things that
belong to their peace, determine simply to "hear what God the Lord will
speak." Such are well called "babes." (See Heb
5:13; 1Co 13:11; 14:20,
26. Even so, Father; for so it seemed
good—the emphatic and chosen term for expressing any object
of divine complacency; whether Christ Himself (see on Mt 3:17), or God's gracious eternal arrangements (see on
in thy sight—This is just a sublime
echo of the foregoing words; as if Jesus, when He uttered them, had
paused to reflect on it, and as if the glory of it—not so much in
the light of its own reasonableness as of God's absolute will that so
it should be—had filled His soul.
27. All things are delivered unto me of my
Father—He does not say, They are revealed—as to
one who knew them not, and was an entire stranger to them save as they
were discovered to Him—but, They are "delivered over," or
"committed," to Me of My Father; meaning the whole administration of
the kingdom of grace. So in Joh 3:35,
"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand"
(see on Joh 3:35). But though the "all things"
in both these passages refer properly to the kingdom of grace, they of
course include all things necessary to the full execution of that
trust—that is, unlimited power. (So Mt
28:18; Joh 17:2; Eph 1:22).
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—willeth
to reveal him—What a saying is this,
that "the Father and the Son are mutually and exclusively known to each
other!" A higher claim to equality with the Father cannot be conceived.
Either, then, we have here one of the revolting assumptions ever
uttered, or the proper divinity of Christ should to Christians be
beyond dispute. "But, alas for me!" may some burdened soul, sighing for
relief, here exclaim. If it be thus with us, what can any poor creature
do but lie down in passive despair, unless he could dare to hope that
he may be one of the favored class "to whom the Son is willing
to reveal the Father." But nay. This testimony to the sovereignty of
that gracious "will," on which alone men's salvation depends, is
designed but to reveal the source and enhance the glory of it when once
imparted—not to paralyze or shut the soul up in despair. Hear,
accordingly, what follows:
28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest—Incomparable, ravishing
sounds these—if ever such were heard in this weary, groaning
world! What gentleness, what sweetness is there in the very style of
the invitation—"Hither to Me"; and in the words, "All ye that
toil and are burdened," the universal wretchedness of man is depicted,
on both its sides—the active and the passive forms
29. Take my yoke upon you—the yoke of
subjection to Jesus.
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls—As Christ's
willingness to empty Himself to the uttermost of His Father's
requirements was the spring of ineffable repose to His own Spirit, so
in the same track does He invite all to follow Him, with the assurance
of the same experience.
30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is
light—Matchless paradox, even among the paradoxically couched
maxims in which our Lord delights! That rest which the soul experiences
when once safe under Christ's wing makes all yokes easy, all burdens