CHAPTER 11:1-30 TEXT:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
11:3 Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
As John was well aware that Yeshua was Messiah (i.e., John 1:29, Luke 3:22), one may ask, "Why would he ask such a question at this point?" Note that John is not asking if Yeshua is Messiah, but if there may be "another one." Among the various opinions in first-century Judaism concerning the Messiah, was the idea of there being two Messiahs. One of these was considered to be the suffering Messiah (Messiah ben-Joseph) and another, the victorious Messiah that would bring Israel to glory (Messiah ben David). The suffering Messiah would fulfill the duties of priest, and would be killed. The triumphant Messiah would fulfill the role of king and live forever. Some teachings had Messiah ben David "avenging the death" of Messiah ben Joseph, and even being involved with raising the latter from the dead.
John is clearly considering that Yeshua may be "Messiah ben Joseph." (He would not think of Yeshua as the conquering Messiah, the Lion of Judah, as he knows that Yeshua is the Lamb, come to be slain for the sin of the world (John 1:29). John's background was probably Qumran/Essene, though it would seem he broke away to form his own following. By the time of Yeshua, the Essenes (as shown in the Dead Sea Scrolls) were developing a very accurate picture of Messiah, as king and priest being united in one person.
The figure of Melchizadek plays an important role in many of the Qumran writings, with his name being substituted for YHWH's in certain scrolls:
11:4 Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see ...
Yeshua does not give a straightforward reply. His answer consists of presenting John with certain "evidences" - His miracles. These acts are directly associated with the "Jubliee Release," a concept related to Messiah returning the world to the way it once was.
There is something very curious in Yeshua's reply when compared to Isaiah's prophecy:
The key difference between these two Scriptures is the issue of "the dead being raised up." Isaiah does not mention this. Yet, in the scrolls found at Qumran, is one that relates the raising of the dead to the Messiah.
The Qumran Redemption and Ressurection scroll says of the Messiah:
This may suggest that Yeshua and John were communicating, using a mutually-recognized teaching not found in the Tenakh, but known to those who spent time "in the wilderness" (as both Yeshua and John did).
11:7 What did you go out into the desert to see?
11:11 ... he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he
The topic is the offer of the kingdom. Is there a better way to extend an invitation than to say that the least in God's kingdom is greater than the greatest in the present world?
11:12 the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
The concept of violence surrounding God's attempts to set up His kingdom on earth is also found in the mystical writings of a Hebrew commentary called the Zohar. The Zohar section below also makes a connection between this turbulence of the Kingdom and the feast of Rosh Hashana, with atonement coming on Yom Kippur. This parallels Revelation's period of great tribulation that befalls the earth (as we will discuss in our Revelation study.)
To review a detailed analysis of this concept, see The Kingdom Offer.
11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
The Greek text has the word "until" (John). However, the Shem Tobe Hebrew book of Matthew has the term "concerning" (John). The Hebrew spelling of the "concerning" is AYIN LAMED. The term "until" would be spelled AYIN-DALET.
Since Yeshua has just quoted from the prophets about John, it is clear that the prophets prophesied CONCERNING John. It would therefore appear that a translator misread the text. This is quite possible, as the two letters are very similar. If the top of a LAMED was not clear (i.e., flaked off of the manuscript), it could easily be mistaken for a DALET.
11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
The key part to this verse are the first words. If Israel would receive it ... What is the "it" in this statement? The topic has not changed - "it" is the Kingdom. What Yeshua is saying here is that IF they as His people, accepted Him and the Kingdom offer, then John would play the role foretold of Elijah.
This remains a difficult text however. John clearly says that he is not Elijah (John 1:21), yet Yeshua says that he is. On the surface, a contradiction.
The first hint as to the answer is found in Luke's account where we are told John comes in the "spirit and power" of Elijah:
The idea of someone coming "in the spirit" of another is not foreign to Judaism. The prophet Elias asked for a "double helping" of Elijah's spirit. Neither is the idea of Elijah playing dual roles alien to Jewish writings. In the following citations (1), we see Elijah mysteriously hiding himself in order to fulfill an early and later role:
This second section (above) is especially interesting, as Elijah comes with Messiah the first time and returns a second time at "Gog and Magog." Yet we know that "Gog and Magog" is directly associated with Messiah, hence He must come twice as well:
(See also: Talmud; Berachoth 10a, Shabbat 118a; Sanhedrin 94a; Leviticus Rabbah 30:5, Song of Songs Rabbah 4:20)
11:19 But wisdom is justified of her children.
This peculiar verse, "wedged in" if it were, in the midst of Yeshua's argument, is very mystical in its meaning. Our Revelation study will have a discussion on the topic of "Wisdom" later this summer. For the moment, we would suggest that Yeshua is equating Himself with "Wisdom," and his deeds as "her children."
11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities ...
Yeshua's miracles are the Father's testimony that Yeshua is the Messiah. The people are not condeming Yeshua's works. Rather, they reject the authority by which He did them and the witness that His miracles attest to. The result of all this is that they are guilty of blasphemy against God's Holy Spirit as He later tells them (in the next chapter.)
11:25 thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent ...
These are questions that we will deal with as we go forward in all of the studies on this YashaNet web site.
11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
As mentioned already -- Yeshua's "yoke" and the Father's "yoke" are not different. Nor is Yeshua telling them to "learn of Him" in any place they didn't know where to look. The yoke and the place to learn of Him are the same -- the Torah. Unfortunately, many people today view the idea of the "yoke of the Law" (yoke of the Torah) as some kind of "bondage." This is unfortunate, and is the result of almost two thousand years of non-Jewish understanding of the Bible, God, Messiah and what "faith" is. Our Romans study will deal with this issue extensively.
1. The Messiah Texts. Raphael Patai, 1979, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, p. 134