Tribute to John the Baptist: Matthew 11:7-24
“7) As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8) But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 9) But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10) This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭7‬-‭10‬ ‭
Jesus now pays an extended tribute to John the Baptist. Just as John introduced the Lamb of God to Israel, Jesus was bidding farewell to the last of the great Old Testament Prophets. The Batton was being passed on and something new was about to come.
Few things more graphically portray the transitional significance between the Old and New Covenants like the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus the Lamb of God. The four Gospels are the bridge between the two.
John thundered from the Law; Jesus pointed to grace and truth. John was tough and rugged; Jesus was meek and ordinary. John pointed to works; Jesus pointed to faith. The contrast between the two could go on and on.
But one fact stands out, the two were never in conflict. John came to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was willing to decrease and allow Jesus to increase. He fulfilled his mission.
Converts to the ministry of John the Baptist persisted well into the book of Acts as illustrated by the conversion of some of his final followers in Acts 19:1-7. His influence was felt all the way to Ephesus.
In Matthew 11:11-24, Jesus used the overlap of their two ministries to pronounce strong judgement on the unrepentant from that generation. Those who remained unmoved by the combined message and ministry of both John the Baptist and the Messiah were without excuse. They were more deserving of Judgement than Tyre, Sidon and even Sodom. They were the recipients of much truth and light, yet they stiffened their hearts and turned a dull ear.
One can only guess the judgement deserving of later generations who had the benefit of the full death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What about the generation that received the completion of the New Testament? But wait, what about the generations that received multiplied translations of the Bible into thousands of languages? But wait, what a about our generation with modern media that offers the Bible for free electronic download… plus countless devotionals and sermons, we stand without excuse before God?
Our generation has been the recipient of more truth and light than any previous generation and I haven’t even mentioned Christian radio or television. I dare extend the words of Jesus and say that we are without excuse and deserving of judgement!
We must now wrestle for a moment with Matthew 11:12; “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” What does that mean?
I dare not claim full understanding, but the god of this world has always hurled his frontal attack against Israel and the church. (Study 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 & Revelation 12:17) The times of the end will see this confusion, deception and apostasy intensify. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8) Be prepared for much opposition to the truth in our days as false teachers increase and a call to biblical holiness decreases. The god of this world is trying to hijack Christianity as a vehicle to export his devious and debase morals in modern society. Do not be deceived!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global