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.
And it came to pass ... - The directions to the apostles were given in the vicinity of Capernaum. The Saviour went from thence to preach in their cities; that is, in the cities in the vicinity of Capernaum, or in Galilee. He did not yet go into Judea.
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
The account contained in this chapter of Matthew, to the Matthew 11:19, is found, with no material variation, in Luke 7:18-35. John was in prison. Herod had thrown him into confinement on account of his faithfulness in reproving him for marrying his brother Philip's wife. See Matthew 14:3-4.
It is not certainly known why John sent to Jesus. It might have been to satisfy his disciples that he was the Messiah; or he might have been desirous of ascertaining for himself whether this person, of whom he heard so much, was the same one whom he had baptized, and whom he knew to be the Messiah. See John 1:29.
And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Art thou he that should come? - That is, Art thou the Messiah, or the Christ? The Jews expected a Saviour. His coming had been long foretold, Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:1-6; Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 35:4-6; Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:24-27. See also John 6:14. Compare Deuteronomy 18:18-19. In common language, therefore, he was familiarly described as "he that was to come." Luke adds here Luke 7:21, that at the time when the messengers came to him, Jesus "cured many of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits." An answer was therefore ready to the inquiries of John.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
Go and show John again ... - Jesus referred them for an answer to these miracles. They were proof that he was the Messiah. Prophets had indeed performed miracles, but no prophet had performed so many, or any so important. Jesus, moreover, performed them "in his own name" and by his own power. Prophets had done it by the power of God. Jesus, therefore, performed the works which none but the Messiah could do, and John might easily infer that he was the Christ.
The poor have the gospel preached to them - It was predicted of the Messiah that he would preach good tidings to the meek Isaiah 61:1; or, as it is rendered in the New Testament, "He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor," Luke 4:18. By this, therefore, also, John might infer that he was truly the Messiah. It adds to the force of this testimony that the "poor" have always been overlooked by Pharisees and philosophers. No sect of philosophers had condescended to notice them before Christ, and no system of religion had attempted to instruct them before the Christian religion. In all other schemes the poor have been passed by as unworthy of notice.
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 blessed is he ... - The word "offence" means a "stumbling-block." See the notes at Matthew 5:29. This verse might be rendered, "Happy is he to whom I shall not prove a stumbling-block." That is, happy is he who shall not take offence at my poverty and lowliness of life, so as to reject me and my doctrine. Happy is the one who can, notwithstanding that poverty and obscurity, see the evidence that I am the Messiah, and follow me. It is not improbable that John wished Jesus publicly to proclaim himself as the Christ, instead of seeking retirement. Jesus replied that he gave sufficient evidence of that by his works; that a man might discover it if he chose; and that he was blessed or happy who should appreciate that evidence and embrace him as the Christ, in spite of his humble manner of life.
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?
And as they departed ... - Jesus took occasion, from the inquiries made by John's disciples, to instruct the people respecting the true character of John. Multitudes had gone out to hear him when he preached in the desert Matthew 3, and it is probable that many had been attracted by the novelty of his appearance or doctrines, or had gone simply to see and hear a man of singular habits and opinions. Probably many who followed Christ had been of that number. He took occasion, therefore, by some striking questions, to examine the motives by which they had been drawn to his ministry.
A reed shaken with the wind? - The region of country in which John preached, being overflowed annually by the Jordan, produced great quantities of "reeds" or "canes," of a light fragile nature, easily shaken by the wind. They were therefore an image of a light, changing, inconstant man. John's sending to Christ to inquire his character might have led some to suppose that he was changing and inconstant, like a reed. He had once acknowledged him to be the Messiah, and now, being in prison and sending to him to inquire into the fact, they might have supposed he had no firmness or fixed principles. Jesus, by asking this question, declared that, notwithstanding this appearance, this was not the character of John.
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
Clothed in soft raiment - The kind of raiment here denoted was the light, thin clothing worn by effeminate persons. It was made commonly of fine linen, and was worn chiefly for ornament. Christ asks them whether they were attracted by anything like that. He says that the desert was not the place to expect it. In the palaces of kings, in the court of Herod, it might be expected, but not in the place where John was. This kind of clothing was an emblem of riches, splendor, effeminacy, feebleness of character. He meant to say that John was a man of a different stamp - coarse in his exterior, hardy in his character, firm in his virtue, suited to endure trials and privations, and thus qualified to be the forerunner of the toiling and suffering Messiah.
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
A prophet? - He next asks whether they went to see a prophet. They had regarded him as such, and Jesus tells them that in this their apprehensions of him were correct.
More than a prophet - Sustaining a character more elevated and sacred than the most distinguished of the ancient prophets. Those had been regarded as the most eminent of the prophets who had most clearly predicted the Messiah. Isaiah had been distinguished above all others for the sublimity of his writings, and the clearness with which he had foretold the coming of Christ. Yet John surpassed even him. He lived in the time of the Messiah himself. He predicted his coming with still more clarity. He was the instrument of introducing him to the nation. He was, therefore, first among the prophets.
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
For this is he ... - The passage of Scripture here quoted is found in Malachi 3:1. The substance of it is contained also in Isaiah 40:3.
Prepare thy way - That is, to prepare "the people;" to make them ready, by proper instructions, to receive the Messiah.
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.
Among them that are born of women - This is an emphatic way of saying that there "had never" been a greater "man" than John. See Job 14:1.
He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he - The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is used in many senses. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. It here probably means, "in preaching the kingdom of God," or the gospel. It could hardly be affirmed of the obscurest and most ignorant Christian that he had clearer views than Isaiah or John; but of the apostles of the Saviour, of the first preachers who were with him and who heard his instructions, it might be said that they had more correct apprehensions than any of the ancient prophets, or than John.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
And from the days of John ... - That is, from the days when John began to preach. It is not known how long this was, but it was not probably more than a year. Our Saviour here simply states a fact. He says there was a great rush or a crowd pressing to hear John. Multitudes went out to hear him, as if they were about to take the kingdom of heaven by force. See Matthew 3:5. So, he says, it has continued. Since "the kingdom of heaven," or "the gospel," has been preached, there has been a "rush" to it. People have been "earnest" about it; they have come "pressing" to obtain the blessing, as if they would take it by violence. There is allusion here to the manner in which cities were taken. Besiegers "pressed" upon them with violence and demolished the walls. With such "earnestness" and "violence," he says, people had pressed around him and John since they began to preach. There is no allusion here to the manner in which individual sinners seek salvation, but it is a simple record of the fact that multitudes had thronged around him and John to hear the gospel.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
All the prophets ... - It is meant by this verse that John introduced a new dispensation; and that the old one, under which the prophets and the law of Moses were the guide, was closed when he preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. By the "law" is meant here the five books of Moses; by the prophets, the remainder of the books of the Old Testament.
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
If ye will receive it - This is a mode of speaking implying that the doctrine which he was about to state was different from their common views; that he was about to state something which varied from the common expectation, and which therefore they might be disposed to reject.
This is Elias ... - That is, "Elijah." Elias is the "Greek" mode of writing the Hebrew word "Elijah." An account of him is found in the first and second books of Kings. He was a distinguished prophet, and was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, 2 Kings 2:11. The prophet Malachi Mal 4:5-6 predicted that "Elijah" would be sent before the coming of the Messiah to prepare the way for him. By this was evidently meant, not that he should appear "in person," but that one should appear with a striking resemblance to him; or, as Luke Luk 1:17 expresses it, "in the spirit and power of Elijah." But the Jews understood it differently. They supposed that Elijah would appear in person. They also supposed that Jeremiah and some other of the prophets would appear also to usher in the promised Messiah and to grace his advent. See Matthew 16:14; Matthew 17:10; John 1:21. This prevalent belief was the reason why he used the words "if ye will receive it," implying that the affirmation that "John" was the promised Elijah was a doctrine contrary to their expectation.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
He that hath ears ... - This expression is frequently used by Christ. It is a proverbial expression, implying that the highest attention should be given to what was spoken. The doctrine about John he regarded as of the greatest importance. He among you, says he, that has the faculty of understanding this, or that will believe that this is the Elijah spoken of, let him attend to it and remember it.
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
But whereunto shall I liken ... - Christ proceeds to reprove the inconsistency and fickleness of that age of people. He says they were like children - nothing pleased them. He refers here to the "plays" or "sports" of children. Instrumental music, or piping and dancing, were used in marriages and festivals as a sign of joy. See the notes at Isaiah 5:11-12. Compare Job 21:11; 2 Samuel 6:14; Judges 11:34; Luke 15:25. Children imitate their parents and others, and act over in play what they see done by others. Among their childish sports, therefore, was probably an imitation of a wedding or festal occasion. We have seen also (the notes at Matthew 9:23) that funerals were attended with mournful music, and lamentation, and howling. It is not improbable that children also, in play: imitated a mournful funeral procession. One part are represented as sullen and dissatisfied. They would not enter into the play: nothing pleased them. The others complained of it. We have, said they, taken all pains to please you. We have piped to you, have played lively tunes, and have engaged in cheerful sports, but you would not join with us; and then we have played different games, and imitated the mourning at funerals, and you are equally sullen; "you have not lamented;" you have not joked with us. Nothing pleases you. So, said Christ, is this generation of people. "John" came one way, "neither eating nor drinking," abstaining as a Nazarite, and you were not pleased with him. I, the Son of man, have come in a different manner, "eating and drinking;" not practicing any austerity, but living like other people, and you are equally dissatisfied - nay, you are less pleased. You calumniate him, and abuse me for not doing the very thing which displeased you in John. Nothing pleases you. You are fickle, changeable, inconstant, and abusive.
Markets - Places to sell provisions; places of concourse, where also children flocked together for play.
We have piped - We have played on musical instruments. A "pipe" was a wind instrument of music often used by shepherds.
Neither eating nor drinking - That is, abstaining from some kinds of food and wine, as a Nazarite. It does not mean that he did not eat at all, but that he was remarkable for abstinence.
He hath a devil - He is actuated by a bad spirit. He is irregular, strange, and cannot be a good man.
The Son of man came eating and drinking - That is, living as others do; not practicing austerity; and they accuse him of being fond of excess, and seeking the society of the wicked.
Gluttonous - One given to excessive eating.
Wine-bibber - One who drinks much wine. Jesus undoubtedly lived according to the general customs of the people of his time. He did not affect singularity; he did not separate himself as a Nazarite; he did not practice severe austerities. He ate that which was common and drank that which was common. As wine was a common article of beverage among the people, he drank it. It was the pure juice of the grape, and for anything that can be proved, it was without fermentation. In regard to the kind of wine which was used, see the notes at John 2:10. No one should plead the example, at any rate, in favor of making use of the wines that are commonly used in this country - wines, many of which are manufactured here, and without a particle of the pure juice of the grape, and most of which are mixed with noxious drugs to give them color and flavor.
Wisdom is justified of her children - The children of wisdom are the wise - those who understand. The Saviour means that though that generation of Pharisees and fault-finders did not appreciate the conduct of John and himself, yet the "wise," the candid - those who understood the reasons of their conduct - would approve of and do justice to it.
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:
Then began he to upbraid ... - That is, to reprove, to rebuke, to denounce heavy judgment.
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.
Chorazin and Bethsaida - These were towns not far from Capernaum, but the precise situation is unknown. See "The Land and the Book" (Thomson), vol. ii. pp. 8, 9. Bethsaida means literally a "house of hunting" or "a house of game," and it was probably situated on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, and supported itself by hunting or fishing. It was the residence of Philip, Andrew, and Peter, John 1:44. It was enlarged by Philip the Tetrarch, and called "Julia," after the emperor's daughter.
Tyre and Sidon - These were cities of Phoenicia, formerly very opulent, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and were in the western part of Judea. They were therefore well known to the Jews. Tyre is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as being the place through which Solomon derived many of the materials for building the temple, 2 Chronicles 2:11-16. It was also a place against which one of the most important and pointed prophecies of Isaiah was directed. See the notes at Isaiah 23. Compare Ezekiel 26:4-14. Both these cities were very ancient. Sidon was situated within the bounds of the tribe of Asher Joshua 19:28, but this tribe could never get possession of it, Judges 1:31. It was famous for its great trade and navigation. Its inhabitants were the first remarkable merchants in the world, and were much celebrated for their luxury. In the time of our Saviour it was probably a city of much splendor and extensive commerce. It is now called Seide, or Saide, and is far less populous and splendid than it was in the time of Christ. It was subdued successively by the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans, the latter of whom deprived it of its freedom.
Messrs. Fisk and King, American missionaries, passed through Sidon in the summer of 1823, and estimated the population, as others have estimated it, at 8,000 or 10,000; but Mr. Goodell, another American missionary, took up his residence there in June, 1824, for the purpose of studying the Armenian language with a bishop of the Armenian Church who lives there, and of course had far better opportunities to know the statistics of the place. He tells us there are six Muslim mosques, a Jewish synagogue, a Maronite, Latin, and Greek church. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 164) supposes that the population may now be about 10,000 - about 6,800 Moslems, 850 Greek Catholics, 750 Maronites, 150 Greeks, and 300 Jews. It exports tobacco, oil, fruit, and silk, but the amount of exports is small.
Tyre was situated about 20 miles south of Sidon. It was built partly on a small island about 70 paces from the shore, and partly on the mainland. It was a city of great extent and splendor, and extensive commerce. It abounded in luxury and wickedness. It was often besieged. It held out against Shalmaneser five years, and was taken by Nebuchadnezzar after a siege of "thirteen" years. It was afterward rebuilt, and was at length taken by Alexander the Great, after a most obstinate siege of five months. There are no signs now of the ancient city. It is the residence only of a few miserable fishermen, and contains, amid the ruins of its former magnificence, only a few huts. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel: "Thou shalt be built no more; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again" Ezekiel 26:21. For a description of Tyre as it was formerly and as it is now, see the notes at Isaiah 23.
In sackcloth and ashes - Sackcloth was a coarse cloth, like canvas, used for the dress of the poor, and for the more common articles of domestic economy. It was worn also as a sign of mourning. The Jews also frequently threw ashes on their heads as expressive of grief, Job 1:21; Job 2:12; Jeremiah 6:26. The meaning is, that they would have repented with "expressions of deep sorrow." Like Nineveh, they would have seen their guilt and danger, and would have turned from their iniquities. "Heathen" cities would have received him better than the cities of the Jews, his native land,
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.
And thou, Capernaum - See the notes at Matthew 4:13.
Which art exalted to heaven - This is an expression used to denote great privileges. He meant that they were especially favored with instruction. The city was prosperous. It was signally favored by its wealth. Most of all, it was signally favored by the presence, the preaching, and the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here he spent a large portion of his time in the early part of his ministry, and in Capernaum and its neighborhood he performed his chief miracles.
Shalt be brought down to hell - This does not mean that all the people would go to hell, but that the city which had flourished so prosperously would lose its prosperity, and occupy the "lowest place" among cities. The word "hell" is used here, not to denote a place of punishment in the future world, but a state of "desolation and destructions." It stands in contrast with the word "heaven." As their being exalted to heaven did not mean that the "people" would all be saved or dwell in heaven, so their being brought down to "hell" refers to the desolation of the "city." Their privileges, honors, wealth, etc., would be taken away, and they would sink as low among cities as they had been before exalted. This has been strictly fulfilled. In the wars between the Jews and the Romans, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc., were so completely desolated that it is difficult to determine their former situation. See the notes at Matthew 4:13. It is not to be denied, also, that he threatened future punishment on those who rejected him. The truth inculcated is, that those who are especially favored will be punished accordingly if they abuse their privileges.
If the mighty works ...had been done in Sodom - See the notes at Matthew 10:15. Sodom was destroyed on account of its great wickedness. Christ says if his miracles had been performed there, they would have repented, and consequently the city would not have been destroyed. As it was, it would be better for Sodom in the day of judgment than for Capernaum, for its inhabitants would not be called to answer for the abuse of so great privileges.
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.
From the wise and prudent - That is, from those who "thought" themselves wise - "wise" according to the world's estimation of wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:26-27.
Hast revealed them unto babes - To the poor, the ignorant, and the obscure; the teachable, the simple, the humble. By the wise and prudent here he had reference probably to the proud and haughty scribes and Pharisees in Capernaum. They rejected his gospel, but it was the pleasure of God to reveal it to obscure and more humble people. The reason given, the only satisfactory reason, is, that it so seemed good in the sight of God. In this the Saviour acquiesced, saying, "Even so, Father;" and in the dealings of God it is proper that all should acquiesce. "Such is the will of God" is often the only explanation which can be offered in regard to the various events which happen to us on earth. "Such is the will of God" is the only account which can be given of the reason of the dispensations of his grace. Our understanding is often confounded. We are unsuccessful in all our efforts at explanation. Our philosophy fails, and all that we can say is, "Even so, Father; for so it seems good to thee." And this is enough. That God does a thing, is, after all, the best reason which we "can" have that it is right. It is a "security" that nothing wrong is done; and though now mysterious, yet light will hereafter shine upon it like the light of noonday. I have more certainty that a thing is right if I can say that I know such is the will of God, than I could have by depending on my own reason. In the one case I confide in the infallible and most perfect God; in the other I rely on the reason of a frail and erring man. God never errs; but nothing is more common than for people to err.
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.
All things are delivered ... - The same doctrine is clearly taught often in the New Testament. See John 3:35; John 6:46; John 10:15; Colossians 1:16-17. It means that Christ has control over all things for the good of his church; that the government of the universe is committed to him "as Mediator," that he may redeem his people and guide them to glory, Ephesians 1:20-22.
No man knoweth the Son - That is, such is the nature of the Son of God, such the mystery of the union between the divine and human nature, such his exalted character as "divine," that no mortal can fully comprehend Jesus. None but God fully knows him. If he had been only a mere man, this language surely would not have been used of him.
Neither knoweth any man the Father ... - In the original this is, neither knoweth "anyone" the Father except the Son. That is, no man or angel clearly and fully comprehends the character of the infinite God; none but the Son - the Lord Jesus - and he to whom he makes him known, have any just apprehensions of his being and perfections.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
All ye that labour and are heavy laden - The Saviour here, perhaps, refers primarily to the Jews, who groaned under the weight of their ceremonial laws and the traditions of the elders, Acts 15:10. He tells them that by coming to him, and embracing the new system of religion, they would be freed from these burdensome rites and ceremonies. There can be no doubt, however, that he meant here chiefly to address the poor, lost, ruined sinner: the man "burdened" with a consciousness of his transgressions, trembling at his danger, and seeking deliverance. For such there is relief. Christ tells them to come to him, to believe in him, and to trust him, and him only, for salvation. Doing this, he will give them rest - rest from their sins, from the alarms of conscience, from the terrors of the law, and from the fears of eternal death.
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.
Take my yoke - This is a figure taken from the use of oxen, and hence signifying to labor for one, or in the service of anyone. The "yoke" is used in the Bible as an emblem:
(2) of afflictions or crosses, Lamentations 3:27.
(3) of the punishment of sin, Lamentations 1:14,
(4) of the commandments of God.
It refers here to the religion of the Redeemer; and the idea is, that they should embrace his system of religion and obey him. All virtue and all religion imply "restraint" - the restraint of our bad passions and inclinations - and subjection to laws; and the Saviour here means to say that the restraints and laws of his religion are mild, and gentle, and easy. Let anyone compare them with the burdensome and expensive ceremonies of the Jews (see Acts 15:10), or with the religious rites of the pagan everywhere, or with the requirements of the Popish system, and he will see how true it is that Jesus' yoke is easy. And let his laws and requirements be compared with the laws which sin imposes on its votaries - the laws of fashion, and honor, and sensuality - and he will feel that religion is "freedom," John 8:36. "He is a freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves besides." It is "easier" to be a Christian than a sinner; and of all the yokes ever imposed on people, that of the Redeemer is the lightest.
For I am meek ... - See the notes at Matthew 5:5. This was eminently Christ's personal character. But this is not its meaning here. He is giving a reason why they should embrace his religion. That was, that he was not harsh, overbearing, and oppressive, like the Pharisees, but meek, mild, and gentle in his government. His laws were reasonable and tender, and it would be easy to obey him.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
My yoke is easy ... - That is, the services that I shall require are easily rendered. They are not burdensome, like all other systems of religion. So the Christian always finds them. In coming to him there is "a peace which passeth all understanding;" in believing in him, "joy;" in following him "through evil and good report," a comfort "which the world giveth not;" in bearing trials and in persecution, "the hope of glory;" and in keeping his commandments, great reward.
Remarks On Matthew 11
1. A spirit of inquiry about the person and works of Christ is especially proper, Matthew 11:2-3. John was solicitous to ascertain his true character, and nothing is of more importance for all than to understand his true character. Upon him depends all the hope that man has of happiness beyond the grave. He saves, or man must perish. "He" will save, or we must die forever. With what earnestness, therefore, should the old and the young inquire into his character. Our eternal all demands it; and while this is delayed, we are endangering our everlasting felicity.
2. Clear proof has been furnished that Jesus is the Christ and can save us, Matthew 11:4-5. If his miracles did not prove that he came from God, nothing can prove it. If he could open the eyes of the blind, then he can enlighten the sinner; if he could unstop the ears of the deaf, then he can cause us to hear and live; if he could heal the sick, and make the lame walk, then he can heal our spiritual maladies, and make us walk in the way of life; if he could raise the dead, then he can raise those dead in sin, and breathe into us the breath of eternal life. If he was willing to do all this for the body which is soon to perish, then he will be much more willing to do it for the soul, that never dies. Then the poor, lost sinner may come and live.
3. We see in this chapter Christ's manner of praising or complimenting men, Matthew 11:7-15. He gave, in no measured terms, his exalted opinion of John - gave him praise which had been bestowed on no other mortal ranked him far above the purest and sublimest of the prophets. But this was not done in the presence of John, "nor was it done in the presence of those who would inform John of it." It was when the disciples of John had "departed," and his commendation of John was spoken to "the multitude," Matthew 11:7. He waited until his disciples were gone, apprehending, doubtless, that they would be likely to report what he said in praise of their master, and then expressed his high opinion of his character. The practice of the world is to praise others to their faces, or in the presence of those who will be sure to inform them of it, and to speak evil of them when absent. Jesus delivered his unfavorable opinions of others to the people themselves; their excellences he took pains to commend where they would not be likely to hear of them. He did good to both, and in both prevented the existence of pride.
4. The wicked take much pains, and are often fickle and inconsistent, for the sake of abusing and calumniating religious people, Matthew 11:18-19. They found much fault with the Saviour for doing the very same thing which they blamed John for not doing. So it is commonly with people who slander professors of religion. They risk their own characters, to prove that others are hypocrites or sinners. The object is not truth, but calumny and opposition to religion; and hitherto no means have been too base or too wicked to pour contempt on the followers of Christ.
5. The purest characters may expect the shaft of calumny and malice, and often in proportion to their purity, Matthew 11:19. Even the Saviour of the world was accused of being intemperate and a glutton. If the only perfectly pure being that ever trod the earth was thus accused, let not his followers think that any strange thing has happened to them if they are falsely accused.
6. Judgments will overtake guilty people, and cities, and nations, Matthew 11:21-22. They fell on Sodom, Tyre, Sidon, and Capernaum. They may long linger; but in due time the hand of God will fall on the wicked, and they will die - forever die.
7. The wicked will suffer in proportion to their privileges, Matthew 11:23-24. So it was with Capernaum. And if they of ancient days suffered thus; if more tremendous judgments fell on them than even on guilty Sodom, what shall be the doom of those who go down to hell from this day of light? The Saviour was indeed there a few days; he worked a few miracles; but they had not, as we have, all his instructions; they had not Sunday schools, and Bible classes, and the stated preaching of the gospel, nor was the world blessed then, as now, with extensive and powerful revivals of religion. How awful must be the doom of those who are educated in the ways of religion - who are instructed from Sabbath to Sabbath - who grow up amid the means of grace - and then are lost!
8. The poor and needy; the weary and heavy-ladened; the soul sick of sin and of the world; the sinner conscious of guilt and afraid to die, may come to Jesus Christ and live, Matthew 11:28-30. The invitation is wide as the world. The child and the old man may seek and find salvation at the feet of the same Saviour. No child is too young; no man is too old: no one is too great a sinner. Christ is "full" of mercy, and all who come shall find peace. O how should we, in this sinful and miserable world, borne down with sin, and exposed each moment to death - how should we come and find the peace which he has promised to all, and take the yoke which all have found to be light!