Matthew 11:1-6 The Coming One

Matthew 11:1-6         The Coming One                                           WC McCarter
The Bible is filled with stories of doubt. Even the greatest leaders and heroes of the Bible question their callings and sometimes God’s plan for their lives and others. Abraham and Sarah laughed at God’s promise that they would have a son in their old age. Moses questioned why God would send him to speak for the nation because he had a reputation of being tongue-tied. The Israelites cried out against Moses, Aaron, and God when they struggled in the wilderness. Thomas, and the others, doubted the resurrection.
I don’t think I would be off base to say that you have probably doubted or at least been slightly perplexed at times in your life. Your own life is filled with stories of doubt. Maybe you have questioned your place in the family of God. Or maybe you can remember those times when you have been confused about what God was doing in your life. Well, you are not alone.
Today, we will take a look at a passage of Scripture that raises a question about who Jesus is and what He is doing. We will also see a clear response to the question. Matthew has spent the first ten chapters of his Gospel account painting the picture for his readers of who Jesus really is in person and deed. He has set forth an answer to the great question of the 1st Century down to our day, Who is Jesus of Nazareth? In chapters eleven and twelve he recounts some of the reactions to what the people were hearing and seeing of Christ Jesus. Today’s reaction is one of doubt/confusion.
READ Scripture- This is the word of God
An Introductory Verse (1)
The first verse of this chapter bridges of from chapter ten into chapter eleven. Chapter ten is all about Jesus choosing His twelve apostles and sending them out on their first missionary journey with many instructions. After He finished commanding them, He departed from there to teach and preach.
First, let us notice that after the Lord sends out His twelve disciples He does not sit back and relax. He sends out His followers to work in the harvest, and then He gets to work Himself.
Second, we are told that Christ went to teach and preach in “their cities.” This must refer to the cities of the disciples. All of the disciples, except for Judas Iscariot, were from Galilee. Of course, Christ was from Galilee as well, but here that area is referred to as “their cities” and not His cities which only begins to distance Him from Galilee. Remember, a prophet is not heard in his own hometown, not even the Messiah.
Third, Jesus had gained lots of fame from His three-fold ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Yet, here we are told that as He resumed that ministry, He focused on teaching and preaching. More than anything, people need to hear the Gospel and the things of God and His kingdom.
John’s Question (2-3)
The John that is meant here is John the Baptizer. By this time he has been put in prison which was mentioned in passing in (4:12). Matthew will explain John’s circumstances in more detail in (14:1-12). Maybe the pressures that naturally accompany a jail cell caused John to question his understanding of Jesus. He has already said great things concerning Jesus (3:11-14), but now he seeks reaffirmation.
The “works” that he had heard about must have been all of the great miracles that are recorded in chapters eight and nine. In those chapters, Jesus healed lepers, paralytics, feverish, demon-possessed, blind, mute, an issue of blood, and a girl who had died. He also calmed a great storm on the sea. These were great things that John had obviously heard about, so why does he question who Jesus messianic status?
Apparently, “The Coming One” was a messianic title. It reminds us of what John said in (3:11), “. . . He who is coming after me is mightier than I. . . .John sends some of his disciples to ask, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” What we must realize is that John was sitting in jail. A man who was a great prophet, who proclaimed the imminent appearance of the Messiah, who knew Jesus’ ministry had begun, was in jail. How could the Messiah allow this injustice to continue? Actually, even though Christ was doing all sorts of great things, He hadn’t done much of what most of the Jews thought the Messiah would do. They thought He would overthrow Rome; that He would be a political, military, and social leader and liberator. Yet, as we have already noticed, even though the Lord was doing great miracles among the people, His focus was on teaching and preaching the Good News of the kingdom of God. That is not what anyone expected, not even a hero of the faith like John the Baptizer. John’s question reminds me of the man who said to the Lord, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
Jesus’ Response (4-6)
Jesus respects the person and ministry of John enough to respond to his question. He basically tells the disciples to retell John the things that Christ was doing. Verse five is actually an allusion to Isaiah 61:1 which was a messianic passage that even Jesus, in (Luke 4:16-21), acknowledged referred to Him. There the prophet says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. . . .” Do you notice what Jesus left out when referencing it to John’s disciples? He does not mention setting the captives free.
In so many words, Jesus was saying that freeing John from prison was not a part of His immediate ministry. And some of us may say, why? Why didn’t Jesus free John from the injustice of a prison sentence? He was God in the flesh, the Messiah and yet He would not set John free? The fact of the matter is that Jesus would set John free in due time. Although John would never be freed from prison literally and physically, he would be freed from the captivity of sin and death because of Christ’s sacrifice.
In the formation of a beatitude, Jesus sends a word of encouragement to His forerunner, John. He says, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” In other words, happy is the one who does not stumble because of Me. For whatever reasons, it is so easy for people to stumble over Christ. He is not what they envisioned, or He does not immediately free them from a difficult situation, or they consider His plan to not be good enough and they are ready to move on to another.
Conclusion and Application
1. Doubt is real. It is almost as if only those who really trust in Christ can doubt.
2. The plan of God is sound. Despite our circumstances, God is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

3. Lastly, let me give you a very practical application. Ministry must involve all of us. We are all gifted in various ways by the Holy Spirit. We may not all be doing to same thing at the same time, but Gospel ministry is made up of all of us doing those things we have been called by God to do. We are called to be light in a dark world and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Make sure you are doing your part, and make sure that you are involving others in the ministry of the church.