Matthew 11

by David Groendyk

After Jesus finishes instructing his disciples and sending them out, he spends some time here in chapter 11 explaining just how great of an era these people are living in. He’s prompted by an envoy sent from John the Baptist who is now in jail. And essentially the question from John is, “Are you really the Christ?” This seems shocking! Wasn’t John one of Jesus’ biggest advocates? Was he straying from the faith? John certainly never defected, but try being in his shoes. He’s been jailed and beaten down for the message he preached. He’s staked his life on his message and on the fact that Jesus is the promised Messiah. John is likely facing death. So you can imagine that he needs some assurance and comfort. Yes, even John the Baptist doubted and needed assurance. Surely, we will all go through doubts at some point in some way. Take comfort that you’re not alone, but never wallow in your doubt. Go to Jesus with your questions, and look for his answers.

One of the most amazing verses in this chapter is verse 11. In this verse, Jesus tells us that all Christians who have heard and seen Jesus (those who are “in the kingdom of heaven”) are greater than even John the Baptist. We the saints at Tyrone Covenant are greater than John the Baptist. How is that? Certainly not because we are more holy or better preachers. But because we have seen and can read about the gospel in all its fullness in a way that John never could. John never lived to see Jesus die and rise again. As great as he was, he was still looking forward to and waiting for salvation to come. We believers now live on the other side of the cross and resurrection. We know what God has done for us fully and clearly. How amazing! How privileged we are! How thankful we ought to be! Imagine how different your faith would look if you still lived before the cross. Revel in the fact that you live after it. You can see God’s salvation in all its glory, and you can go back to it over and over again in his Word.

Along with great privilege, though, comes great accountability. As we get into verse 20, Jesus starts condemning various cities (Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida) for having rejected him. Do you remember how horrible Sodom and Gomorrah were Genesis 18–19? Jesus says Sodom and Gomorrah’s punishment won’t be nearly as bad as these cities. Why? Because they saw Jesus and his miracles. They stood face-to-face with Jesus and said, “No, thanks. Get out of here.” They heard the gospel clearly and rejected it. One devotional by Joel Beeke that I’m reading through comments on these verses: “We could say that the ‘hottest’ places in hell are reserved for people who have lived the closest to gospel privileges and yet have continued in sin.” It’s incredibly sobering. But this warning comes up again and again in Scripture. Don’t reject Jesus. But also don’t claim to accept Jesus but then go on living like he makes no difference to you. Grab hold of the gospel and cling to Jesus in faith. Never forget what a wonder the gospel is and the difference it ought to make in your life.

Finally, we can’t have a devotional on Matthew 11 without commenting on verses 28–30! What great comfort these verses give us, especially now. Many of us are heavy laden with anxiety. We’re burdened in many different ways—perhaps with sickness, perhaps financially, perhaps dealing with family. But Jesus reminds us that his gospel gives us rest in our souls. That’s far better than even rest for our bodies. Soul rest gives us peace and comfort. Soul rest gives us strength to carry on even when our bodies are over-tired. Jesus is not a tyrannical slave driver. His yoke is easy. Learn from him. Learn meekness, learn dependence on God, remember God is in control, remember your heavenly and eternal security, and go forth renewed in the strength of the Lord.