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Matthew 11:1-19

Talks for Growing Christians

The Lord Commends John the Baptist

Matthew 11:1-19

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Lesson Number 27

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. John the Baptist was the greatest Old Testament prophet.
  2. John the Baptist was the subject of Old Testament prophecy.

Practical Application

  1. When you are discouraged and have doubts, turn to the word.

Questions

  1. Where was John the Baptist at this time?
  2. Why did John send his disciples to question Jesus?
  3. Did Jesus scold John for having questions?
  4. How was John the Baptist more than a prophet?
  5. If John was so great, how could someone least in the kingdom of heaven be greater than he?

Answers

  1. He had been imprisoned by King Herod.
  2. John had announced the Lord as the Messiah. He expected Him to set up His earthly kingdom at this time, yet this had not happened.
  3. No; He told John’s disciples to testify to John about what they had seen. See Matthew 11:5. These were works that had been foretold of the Messiah.
  4. He was a prophet and the forerunner of the Messiah, as prophesied in Old Testament scriptures. His mission made him the greatest Old Testament prophet.
  5. They are not greater in character or mission, but greater in privilege. John announced the kingdom as being “at hand,” but believers today have the greater privilege of being citizens of the kingdom. Believers today also have the privilege of being part of the Church and being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, privileges John did not have.

Discuss/Consider

  1. Jesus did not scold John for having questions. Instead, He told him what he needed to hear to calm his fears. Do not be afraid to go to the Lord with your questions.
  2. John the Baptist was the subject of Old Testament prophecy. Yet it is not easy to understand how all these prophecies fit together! Review the prophecies and their fulfillment. Malachi 3:1 predicted the coming of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Lord. Malachi 4:5 is a prophecy predicting the coming of Elijah, before the day of the Lord. Was this prophecy fulfilled in John the Baptist who came in the spirit of Elijah? Yes and No. No, because John clearly said in John 1:21 that he was not Elijah. Yes, because of what the Lord said in Matthew 17:10-13. How is this apparent conflict resolved? The key lies in today’s passage. Matthew 11:14 says “if you are willing to receive it…” The “if” here was dependant on the Jews’ reception of the Messiah and His kingdom. If the Jews had accepted His offer, John the Baptist would have fulfilled the Elijah prophecy of Malachi 4. Since they rejected the king and His kingdom, Elijah is still coming. He will precede the second coming of Christ.

Challenge

  1. We are all discouraged at times. When John the Baptist was discouraged the Lord turned him to the word. The scriptures cleared up John’s doubts; the same can be true of us. As we turn to the Lord in time of discouragement and doubt, He will often point us to His word for assurance, comfort, and challenge. Turn to the Lord, then turn to His word.

Key Verses

  • “The blind see 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.” Matthew 11:5
  • “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11-12

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