Matthew 11:1-9 (Dashed Expectations, Doubt, and a True Prophet)

Mat 11:1          In light of the circumstances facing the Jewish believers at the time Matthew was writing, what is the significance that the word Jesus used in Mat 11:1 to instruct his disciples about the oppositions they would face means literally to arrange carefully or make precise arrangement, so that it came to be used of the orders or commands given by a superior officer (see Luk 3:13, 17:9-10, Act 18:2, 23:31, 24:23)?  What does this remind us about the nature of our walk with the Lord and the importance of following orders if we are to be victorious in the conflicts we face?  Cf. 2Ti 2:3-4, Luk 6:46.  What did Jesus Himself do after sending out the twelve to proclaim the kingdom?

Mat 11:2-6     Read Joh 1:29-36 and consider that earlier in His ministry John had borne testimony that Jesus was the Son of God and referred to Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”; what does the question in Mat 11:3 indicate about the confusion even for John about the nature of Jesus’ ministry and the general expectations people had about the Messiah?  What was the common expectation, even for John, of the “Expected One” (“he that should come”, KJV)?  What event likely prompted John’s confusion and question?  See Mat 11:2, and consider the disconnect John must have experienced as the one sent to prepare the way of the Lord (Mat 3:3) amidst the widespread expectation that He would establish a kingdom of righteousness that would overthrow the corrupt governments of men, such as that of Herod in whose prison he languished.  How did Jesus answer John’s question?  See Mat 11:4-6.  What is the significance of Him answering the way He did?  See Isa 35:3-6, 61:1.  What does this teach us about the importance of knowing God’s word in order to understand what the Lord speaks to us?  What does it teach us about what is most important as the basis for our understanding: the common expectations of the age in which we live, or a prayerful discernment of actual events in light of God’s word?  Considering that “among those born of women there ha[d] not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Mat 11:11) who prepared the way of the Lord and yet did not fully understand the nature of the kingdom for which he was preparing people, what do these verses teach us about man’s ability to correctly perceive the depths of God’s ways?  Cf. Isa 55:8-9, Rom 11:33-34.  Is it possible that as it was at Christ’s first coming, people’s expectations might also be mistaken about His second coming?  Given that even John the Baptist had misperceptions and unresolved questions about the ways of God, what qualities are essential for us as Christians?  See Pro 15:33, 22:4, 29:23, Isa 66:2; Mat 8:8-10, Heb 11:6.  In what way was John the Baptist in danger of stumbling over or taking offense at Jesus (Mat 11:6)?  How is that like us today?  Is our relationship with the Lord one of complete faith and trust such that even if our expecta-tions are not correct we will not take offense but still cling to Him?  Cf. Joh 6:66-69.

Mat 11:7-9     For what purpose were the reeds used that grew in the Jordan Valley where John preached?  See Rev 11:1; cf. Mat 27:29,30,48.  In what way was John a measuring reed?  See Eph 4:13 and consider how John’s preaching established a standard of righteousness for people to measure up to.  In this context, what did Jesus mean by a “reed shaken by the wind”?  See Eph 4:14, Jud 1:12.  Was John shaken by or did he bend to the winds of his time that blew against him?  See Acts 17:13, 2Th 2:2 where the same Greek word is translated “agitated”, “shaken from composure”.  What point is Jesus making about John in Mat 11:8?  Was he wealthy and among the rich and powerful or politically elite?  What does Jesus mean in Mat 11:9 that John was “more than a prophet”?  Hint: what place did John occupy among the OT prophets?  See also Mat 11:14.  What do Mat 11:7-9 teach us about the nature of a true prophet, and the power of uncompromising holiness and righteousness to impact the world as much as those in king’s palaces?  Cf. Mat 11:11, 1Co 12:31a, 14:1.

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