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Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:20-24
In these verses, Jesus reproaches the cities where He performed His greatest miracles. These cities were witness to great evidence of God and of who Jesus is, yet these cities resisted the call to repentance. Jesus condemns them, saying that if the people of Sodom had witnessed the “deeds of power” performed by Jesus they would not have been destroyed. This is the accent of heartbroken condemnation.
The Greek word used to describe what is often translated as “woe” means sorrowful pity as well as angry. Jesus was sad and angry. His anger did not come from feeling insulted at being disregarded, it came from the sorrow of having offered people something precious and seeing them not respond. This is the holy anger that drew God to act on several occasions in the Old Testament and continues to draw God to act today.
These cities had been privileged to be visited by Jesus and be witness to His mighty acts. They saw God and were given an opportunity to accept Him, yet they resisted. Anyone who has seen God and rejected Him is condemned. These cities had been blessed with the opportunity to see the living God and were not prepared to accept the responsibilities and obligations that living in God involves.
The people were also indifferent. They happily accepted Jesus’ miracles and did not drive Him away. But they also were happy just to not notice or remark on what He did. This is echoed in the attitude of many to Christianity today. The multitudes live with no desire to destroy Christianity. After all, without Christianity there would be no excuse for Easter Eggs or Christmas celebrations. There is also no desire to follow Jesus. There is just total indifference and a belief that “everything will be alright, I have been a good person”. In this atmosphere it is virtually impossible for the number of those who follow Jesus to grow. And do not think that your church membership means you are not one of the indifferent. Many people attending churches do not burn to reach out to those who do not know Jesus. Nor do they bother to open their Bible’s and read them daily. There is no delight in God’s word. Likewise they do not bother to pray. They go to church on Sunday and live every other moment with the same indifference that their non-believing neighbours have.
In these verses, Jesus is identifying another sin. It is the same sin referred to in Revelation 3:1-6 when Jesus accuses the assembly in Sardis of being “lukewarm” or indifferent. I saw a lovely quotation once that said that doing nothing was not “refusing to take sides”. The mouse being trodden on by the elephant does not consider you sitting nearby doing nothing to mean you refuse to support the elephant, because in fact that is what your indifference is doing. When you fail to make a choice, by default you support that which benefits from your refusal to do anything. If you fail to act on the call to follow Jesus then you are rejecting Jesus. If you fail to spend time every day reading the Bible, praying, seeking more of Jesus in your life and obeying His directions regarding your actions, then you are indifferent and you are condemned.

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:16-19
These verses contain the accent of sorrowful rebuke.
In these verses Jesus speaks of the generation to whom he speaks as being like children in a market place who call out to one another to play but the other one says I don’t feel like it so they suggest doing something to match the other’s sadness and the other one says I don’t feel like being sad. Whatever is suggested, the other one objects to. It is what Jesus referred to as the perversity of that generation, and in fact all generations.
For evidence of this, Jesus talks of how John lived simply in the desert and fasted and worse minimal clothing and he was called mad. Jesus has come and lived among men, eating what He needs and wearing a normal amount of clothing and he is called a glutton and friend of tax-collectors and sinners.
Jesus found that these people did not want to listen, so found excuses not to do so, even when they contradicted the excuses not to listen to another messenger of God. These adults behaved like spoiled children who will not accept anything because they are sulking.
Jesus final sentence that wisdom is justified by her deeds points to the fact that John did move those who were willing to listen and people were finding a new life in Jesus when they were willing to listen. It is perhaps a warning to celebrate other followers of Jesus, even when they live out their genuine faith in a different way, and not condemn them or look down on them. Our perversity in never being satisfied in what others are doing is something that causes Jesus sorrow but will also earn us a rebuke.

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:12-15
These verses reveal the accent of violence and the Kingdom. These verses do not reflect the strength of the words in the NIV. Other translations may be better to read. In the Amplified it speaks of the Kingdom enduring violent assault and being seized by violent men. In Luke 16:16 we read about men striving violently to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is a difficult saying to understand. There are some commentators who consider it speaks of people having to purposely and with courage enter the Kingdom. According to this interpretation we can never just drift into the Kingdom. However, Luke 16:16 speaks of men striving violently to enter their own way rather than through God’s way. This would suggest that this is not the meaning. Other commentators, and Barclay is one of them, look at both verses and interpret this as meaning that the Kingdom will always be subjected to violence and there will be efforts to break it up and destroy it. Only those who can “violently” withstand such persecution will survive.
Jesus ends this section by reminding the people that if they have ears to hear then they should listen to Jesus, consider what He says, perceive the meaning of His words and comprehend them. They should do this by hearing what Jesus says. Again this brings us back to Jesus’ statement to John’s disciples that they should report to John what they see, not what is said. This is not a contradiction. He should listen to Jesus, not those who intellectualise the Christian faith, and we should live out our lives in Jesus, observing His work in our lives and those around us, not have our walk interpreted by some preacher or bible scholar or book.

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:7-11.
Having sent John’s disciples back to him with Jesus’ message, Jesus now talks to the crowds about John. In this section, Jesus gives John praise and that is why Barclay referred to this as Jesus “accent of admiration”.
Jesus asked the people if they went out into the desert to see an ordinary person. Of course not, John was an extraordinary person. Did they go out to see someone who was unable to express a strong opinion, a “fence sitter”? No one would go out into the desert for someone like that. Then he asked if they went out to see a man dressed in beautiful, luxurious robes. This is the man who knows how to flatter rulers and leaders. John was not a man like that, he spoke the truth to everyone, even rulers and leaders. Finally, Jesus asked if they went out to see a prophet. By this He meant a man who had confidence in God and spoke the truth from God. He had a message and the courage to deliver it. He had God’s wisdom in his mind, God’s truth on his lips and God’s courage in his heart. Jesus confirmed this is who the people went to see, but John is more. He is the one spoken of by Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1) who will proclaim the coming Messiah.
Having spoken this great praise about John and his mighty ministry, Jesus then announced that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven will be greater than John. What does that mean? Hasn’t Jesus just sung John’s praises and spoken of his greatness? Jesus was referring to the fact that John had not seen the cross. Those who see the cross receive the greatest revelation of the love of God that it is possible to receive. But this is what John had not seen, because it had not happened and would not until after he was dead. John was able to alert people to the fact of their sinfulness. This was necessary in order for them to receive the good news about God’s love and redemption. It is not possible to receive forgiveness until you are aware of the need for forgiveness. As in the time John warned the people of the need to repent, we also need to be aware of our sin and, where directed by God, to alert others of their sin. No one can come to Jesus without an awareness of their sinfulness. Sometimes God does bring people across the path of another to alert him to his sinfulness, other times just entering the presence of God, as happened to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5 is enough to convict a person of their sinfulness. I know that was my experience of coming to faith in Jesus. Just standing in the presence of God was enough to convict me of my need of a saviour!
Are you or can you be greater than John and experience that revelation of the love of God that allows our sins to be forgiven through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross?

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:1-6
This is the final chapter I will cover under the heading of “The Sermon on the Mount”. As you are aware, only chapters 5 to 7 covered the actual Sermon, but I included the following Chapters because they contained important teaching on putting the sermon into practice. The wonderful thing about Chapter 11 is what Jesus speaks to the different people about different things. William Barclay, in his Daily Study Bible, beautifully describes these as the six accents of Jesus’ voice. I am going to cover this final chapter by describing the six accents because they sum up the teaching of 5 to 7 very effectively.
Today is about the accent of confidence.
Jesus has sent His disciples off on their mission to the people in Galilee. Jesus continues on His way. John the Baptist, who by now is in prison, sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one the prophets spoke of coming. In the Bible commentaries I have consulted, there are many views as to the reason for this question. Some think he asked the question for the sake of his disciples. They must have been wondering whether John could end up in this mess if Jesus was the one John had come to announce. Barclay suggests that if someone argues with you about Jesus and casts doubt on His supremacy the best answer is to suggest he gives his life to Jesus and then sees what Jesus can do. The experience of Jesus is worth more than the intellectual discussions of the Bible scholar.
Others have suggested that John was impatient, that he had the wrong idea of what Jesus would do. I find that one hard to believe. John had the Holy Spirit in him before he was born. With all that divine teaching I cannot see him forming an incorrect picture of what Jesus would be like.
Yet others think John’s question was a reflection of him being able to reflect on Jesus, now he was not in a position to preach and was able to devote his time for Jesus to grow more as John became less (John 3:30). His faith in Jesus was increasing and his certainty of faith and hope in Jesus was growing. He was asking the question as a confirmation of what he already knew. Certainly, Jesus answer is appropriate for a question such as this.
Jesus answered John’s question with the accent of confidence. Tell John what I am doing and what is happening. He was not asking for the disciples to report what He said and claimed, but what He did. As I said earlier, the experience of Jesus is worth more than the intellectual discussion. This is the ultimate test of the disciple. It is not about what we say, but what we do.
Jesus spoke of the blind having their hope restored by the opening of their eyes. Even today He continues to open the eyes of those who are blind to the truth. Jesus spoke of the lame walking and today those who are not strong enough to follow the right way are strengthened when they put their faith in Jesus. In Jesus’ day the lepers were cleansed, and today those whose sins are their disease are cleansed in the blood of Jesus. John was told of the deaf hearing and we see those who could not hear God able to listen. Likewise, the dead in their sins are now raised to the new life in Jesus and for all, especially the poor in spirit, we inherit the richness of the love of God.
To ensure the message was received by John and his disciples, Jesus ended with the statement that the person who took no offense in Jesus and found no cause for stumbling because of Jesus and were able to see the truth were blessed. John preached repentance for sin and the coming judgement. Jesus preached repentance for sin and the love of God. John may or may not have grasped this, but his disciples definitely needed to know this. As Barclay comments “sometimes a man can be offended at Jesus because Jesus cuts across his ideas of what religion should be.” Be careful that you do not fall for that trap.

 


 
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Nan
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