Notes on Matthew 11

Matthew 11  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The question is raised by John now in prison if Jesus was the Christ when no deliverance had been wrought for Israel. This was not a failure of confidence in the word of the Lord, for John does not refer to this word; but all is changed in the relations between John and Christ and Israel. As to intelligence John probably as an individual was embarrassed; but the effect of this embarrassment was to exchange his part of prophet for a question of individual faith, and the turn that things take and that Jesus gives them is according to divine wisdom. Fully owned of Him as more than prophet, John has to believe in Jesus individually by the testimony that Jesus gives of Himself, able to do everything, full of grace to think of the poor, to bring them the gospel, but already rejected, and a little remnant owned in His words, “blessed is he who is not offended in me.”
So that we have still Jehovah in Israel a stone of stumbling, but a sanctuary for those who trust in Him. John must receive Jesus on this testimony. Thus it is Christ who renders testimony to John, Jehovah who owns His servant, and not John to Jesus. The testimony of the two had been tendered; the mournful strains of John, the attractive sounds of the flute had been heard, both in the market place; but Israel would neither be humbled for the one nor rejoice in the other. All that was closed. Only there was a remnant according to grace, and the wisdom of God in the two had been justified in the two by these children of wisdom: and Jesus remained alone in His grace, Jehovah in the world, in a world where man had shown that he wished none of Him, to manifest what He was in Himself for the wants of those who, in such a world, had made the discovery of their wants and their miseries. The world had been put fully to the proof, and Jesus who had done so and knew that there was nothing there to console a tried heart, who knew that His spirit had been like the dove sent by Noah in that grace which shone only with so much the more splendor that the world was dark, presents Himself to every burdened heart as the resource, and a perfect resource, for its wants. He gives rest, in the revelation of the love of the Father in His person; then, in the perfect submission of a heart bowed under the will of God, practical rest in life. But the details demand a little more attention.
The Lord was not at all insensible to His rejection; He felt it profoundly, although it was in a spirit of grace. We see Him weep later over the final obstinacy of Jerusalem; His heart of love thought with grief of the hardening of Jerusalem in seeing the city, beloved but wicked, reject the last effort of God to bring her back and bless her. Here the feeling of His heart was a little different. He had displayed His power in blessings and in testimony; and all had been in vain. He had reproached them with the hardness of their heart. He had spent Himself for them; but their heart had remained insensible. Neither Tire nor Sidon, neither Sodom nor Gomorrah, would have remained insensible in the same circumstances; they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Their judgment would be so much the more terrible; but then in the same hour He accepts all from the hand of His Father: perfect subjection! He had seen good to humble the pride of man, and had hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them to babes. In the eye of God these ways were good, and Jesus accepts them without question.
Then in this perfect submission of man opens out before Him all the truth of His glory, and of the relative position of Israel and of Him, and of Himself with men. The Son of God was there. All things had been delivered to Him by the Father, and none knew the Son but He. He was in the truth of His person which none knew. The divinity of the Son is guarded in His humiliation by the inscrutability of His person. The testimony rendered to that which men in Israel were called to believe had been accepted; but the full truth went much farther and came forth out of obscurity, now that the testimony of John, of Christ, and of His works was rejected. As for Him, He was unknown; He revealed the Father. The sovereign grace of God in this revelation is then manifested. One has but to come to Him, and he will have rest. It was no longer the kingdom in Israel, but, by the revelation of the Father, rest for the weary soul. Thus it is God in grace for him who has need of it—the Son revealing the Father.
But there is another element in this touching picture of grace. The perfect submission of a man humble of heart had been the occasion of the revelation of glory and of grace in His person. It is just the same in John 12. It is always so. Submission to the ways of God opens the door to the knowledge of His grace and of His glory. Now it was thus with Jesus as man; and He engages His hearers to take the yoke, the yoke that He had taken Himself, and to learn of Him in this manifestation of submission and of poverty of spirit, and they should find rest for their souls. It is perfect grace, the revelation of the Father in the Son, which gives rest to hearts weary of this world of sin; it is the perfect submission of the will which gives practical peace to the heart, whilst one crosses it. It is Christ the Son revealing the Father, the man Christ perfectly subject to the yoke, which gives both.