Verse by verse, together we dig into Matthew 11:2-11…
Bible Study Notes on Matthew 11:2-11 (ESV)
From Matthew 11:
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
A.) The passage presents us with the fact John is in prison, but doesn’t yet tell us how or why John is there. To find out, we must look ahead. Read Matthew 14:1-12. Why is John in prison and how did he get there?
B.) Matthew 11:2 says John “sent word by his disciples.” What had John heard about in prison that gave rise to this word he sends to Jesus?
C.) Today, if we want to get a message to someone, we usually call and leave a voice mail, email or send a text to them. We must trust technology to get the job done. The words they receive will be the exact same words we want them to hear or receive, we hope. In the days of Jesus and John, what solemn duty did those who carried the message have toward both sender and receiver?
D.) What word did John send via his disciples to Jesus? Read Matt. 11:3.
E.) Does John still believe the Christ is coming? That Jesus is this Christ?
4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
F.) Again today, if we want to respond to a message sent from a distance and are unable to do so in person, how might one go about responding to a phone call? An email? A text? Would video be more reliable?
G.) In verse 4, we have a hint Jesus wants to communicate more than mere words of a simple response. What are the messengers to communicate beyond Jesus’s words?
H.) What work did John’s Dad do (see Luke 1:5-17)? Is it likely that John grew up very familiar with the Scriptures? Is it likely that John was well taught, aware of His calling and prepared for serving as the Lord’s own messenger?
I.) Read Isaiah 29:18-19; Isaiah 35:3-6; Isaiah 42:7, 16, 18; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 61:1. When John’s disciples report what they heard and saw, would John’s faith be again grounded in the promises of the Lord? Is John’s question answered, whether Jesus is the coming Christ?
J.) John’s question could have been answered with a simple “Yes, of course I am” or “No, there is another.” How is our Lord’s response better than a simple “Yes” or “No”–for John’s own faith? For the messengers? For the crowds watching all this? How is it better for us?
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
K.) As the messengers from John are still leaving, Jesus turns to speak to the crowds. He asks rhetorical questions, which have rather obvious answers. How is John unlike a reed blowing in the wind? How is John unlike those wearing soft clothes? Might John hear this report too?
9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you'”
L.) John is a prophet, “My messenger.” What is the primary duty of a messenger? To get the sender’s message delivered to the sender’s intended recipient(s).
M.) Aside from the primary duty of an official messenger, what work shall this messenger also accomplish (v.10)?
11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
N.) Does Jesus have an extremely favorable view of John the Baptist?
O.) Who might we be inclined to regard as comparatively ‘least’ in the kingdom of heaven? How does Christ measure and regard them?
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