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- And it happened, when Jesus finished giving detailed orders to His twelve disciples, He left there to teach and preach in their cities.
John the Baptist’s Question
- Now, John heard of the Anointed’s works while in prison. And sending two of his disciples
- said to Him; “Are you The Coming One,(1)“The Coming One” this odd phrase is intentional by John. There were several Old Testament passages that the Jews believed referred to the messiah, which talk of Him “coming”. (For example, Psalm 118:26, Psalm 40:7-8, and Malachi 3:1). John was probably referring to Zechariah 9:9, which talks about the “coming King”, and in verse 11 speaks of setting prisoners free. Therefore, John was probably asking if Jesus was the messiah, and if so would he be freed. or should we wait for another?”
- And answering them, Jesus said; “When you go, report to John what you hear and see:
- “The blind see, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, and the poor are given good news.(2)Verse note: Jesus answered John’s question using a Jewish Rabbinic method called “remez” (or hint). Jesus quotes portions of Isaiah 35:5-6, (blind, lame, deaf), Isaiah 42:6-7 (blind again) and Isaiah 61:1 (good news). All three passages refer to the coming messiah/king, so Jesus was confirming that He was indeed Him. However, in all three passages Jesus left off a part about setting prisoners free. This was likely Jesus telling John that He was indeed the messiah, but John wouldn’t be set free.
- “And blessed is he who doesn’t stumble because of Me.
- Now, as they were leaving, Jesus began to tell the crowd about John; “What did you come out to the desert to watch?(3)“to watch” The Greek word here is “θεάομαι” (theaomai), which refers to spectators who watch something, like in a theater. In fact, theaomai is the root of the Greek word “θέατρον” (theatron); which both means “theater” and is the root of our English word “theater”. A reed shaken by the wind?
- But what did you come out to see? A man who was – and is – in soft clothing? Look; the men always wearing soft clothes are in the Kings’ houses.
- But what did you come out to see; a prophet? Truly I tell you, yes! And one who’s far more than a prophet.
- “This is the man about whom it was – and is – written; “Behold; I send out my messenger before your face. He who will carefully prepare your way before you.”(4)quotation/allusion to Malachi 3:1
- “Truly I tell you: among those born to women, none has – or is – risen who’s greater than John the Baptist. But the least in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.
- “But from the days of John the Baptist until now, men force their way into(5)“men force their way into” is a single word in Greek. Most translations render it in the passive voice here (“suffers violence”). However, the endings for the Greek middle voice and passive voice are the same in many verbs, this one included. Therefore, it can be accurately translated as either passive or middle voice. In the middle voice, it means to “use force” or to “force your way”. When compared with a parallel passage in Luke 16:16, it seems the middle voice was intended. Therefore, it was been translated in the middle voice here. See note at end of the verse for more information. the kingdom of the heavens, and zealous men seize it. (6)Verse note: the latter half of this verse likely refer to the zeal with which John’s (and later Jesus’) disciples followed them. In Luke 5:18-19, some men literally tore up a roof to get someone to Jesus. In John 6:15, they wanted to make Jesus king by force. It seems to be a positive statement in this verse, giving approval of the zeal.
- “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
- “And if you’re willing to accept it, he is Elijah; the one about to come.
- “He who has ears, let him hear.
This Wicked Generation
- “But to what will I compare this generation? It’s like small children sitting in the markets who are calling to others.
- “saying; ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We cried out in mourning and you didn’t grieve.’
- “For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say; ‘he has a demon.’
- “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say; ‘Look; this man is a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Indeed, wisdom is declared righteous by her deeds.”
- Then He started to condemn the cities in which most of His miracles had happened, because they didn’t change their minds, and thus their deeds.(7)“change their minds, and thus their deeds” is one word in Greek, typically translated “repent”. However, it doesn’t speak of remorse or guilt for wrong actions. Rather, it literally means to “think differently after” or to “reconsider”, with an assumed change in behavior. To both the Hebrews and 1st century Greeks/Romans, a change in mind was synonymous with a change in behavior; you couldn’t have the first without the second.
- “Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the miracles happening in you had happened in Tyre and Sidon,(8)Tyre and Sidon were ancient cities against which God prophesied destruction at length, especially against Tyre. (Isaiah 23, Ezekiel chapters 26-28) then long ago in sackcloth and ashes(9)Sackcloth and ashes was a common way for Jews to mourn or express great regret. The “sackcloth” was a rough weave, probably equivalent to modern day burlap or canvas. They would throw ashes on their heads and clothes to indicate the regret or grief. they would’ve changed their minds, and thus their deeds.(10)“changed their minds and thus their deeds” is one word in Greek, typically translated “repent”. However, it doesn’t speak of remorse or guilt for wrong actions. Rather, it literally means to “think differently after” or to “reconsider”, with an assumed change in behavior. To both the Hebrews and 1st century Greeks/Romans, a change in mind was synonymous with a change in behavior; you couldn’t have the first without the second.
- “Further I tell you: it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you.
- “And you Capernaum. You won’t be raised up to heaven, but will go down to the underworld,(11)The Greek word here is “ᾍδης” (Hades). Hades was the name of the Greek god of the underworld, and the word became synonymous with the underworld itself. In Greek mythology, the underworld (Hades) was the place that all departed spirits went, whether good or bad. It is directly equivalent to the Hebrew world “sheol”. because if the miracles happening in you had happened in Sodom, it would remain to this day.
- “Further I tell you: because of this, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement than for you.
Rest for the Weary
- Then concluding, Jesus said; “I praise(12)“Praise”. The Greek word here has a primary connotation of confession and agreement. It also has a nuanced meaning of praise and thanks. Given the context, “praise” was chosen. However, the other meanings are certainly applicable and probably intended. you, Father – Lord of heaven and earth – because you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to children.
- “Yes Father, because it happening like this was pleasing before you.
- “And no one truly knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone truly know the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.
- “Come to Me, all who exhaust themselves working(13)“who exhaust themselves with work” is one word in Greek. It literally means to tire yourself out – to become weary – from doing hard work or labor. Interestingly, this doesn’t say working is bad. It refers to exhausting yourself from working. and who were – and are – overloaded with burdens,(14)“who were – and are – overloaded with burdens” is one word in Greek. It seems to refer to loading up a pack animal with more than it can carry. It’s in the Greek perfect tense here, which is (sort of) a combination of our past and present tenses. and I will give you rest.(15)quotation/allusion to Exodus 33:14, which says (in context it’s Yahweh/God speaking) “and He said; “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Jesus was making a claim to His deity by saying He would do what God promised to do.
- “Take up My yoke(16)A “yoke” is shaped like an upside-down “U”, and was put over the necks of oxen to enable them to pull with their shoulders. It’s what enables them to do hard work, because they can put their full strength into the effort. upon you and learn from me. For I’m strong but gentle, and humble of heart;(17)this is a double quotation/allusion to two different verses. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses says that God will raise up a prophet like him, and concludes with “you must listen to him.” The Jews believed this was a messianic prophecy. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the most humble man on the earth. By quoting Moses here, Jesus was saying He was the promised Messiah, and that they should listen to/obey Him. and you will find rest for your soul.(18)quotation/allusion to Jeremiah 6:16. Jesus statement here cannot be properly understood without reading that verse. The verse reads: “Thus says Yahweh; “Stand at the road and look. Ask for the ancient paths – the good way – and walk in it, and you will find rest for your soul. But they said, “We won’t walk in it.” Jesus was saying they would only find rest if they were obedient. Further, the ending of the verse is “we won’t walk in it”, which is likely an allusion to their disobedience.
- “For My yoke(19)see note on previous verse. is pleasant and My burden easy to bear.
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