Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In Matthew 11 we see the result of the King’s ministry. The record of chapter ten indicates that both the King’s ministry and the enlargement of His ministry by the twelve apostles were rejected. In chapter ten the Lord told the apostles that they would be persecuted and hated, even by the so-called holy people in the Sanhedrin and in the synagogues. He warned them that they would be persecuted even by their relatives. In chapter eleven we see that three ministries are rejected: the ministry of John the Baptist, the ministry of the King, and the ministry of the King’s sent ones, the twelve apostles. John was rejected, the Lord Jesus was rejected, and according to His charge to the twelve apostles, their ministry also was to be rejected. In chapter eleven we see how the King deals with this rejection. The main point in this chapter is how we should face rejection.
In verses 2 and 3 we see that the patience of John the Baptist, the King’s rejected forerunner, was exhausted. Thus, John “sent by his disciples and said to Him, Are You the coming One, or should we expect someone else?” John the Baptist’s word here does not mean that he was in doubt concerning Christ. He questioned Christ in this way in order to provoke Him to deliver him. He knew that Christ was the coming One, and he had strongly recommended Him to the people (John 1:26-36). After that, he was put into prison (Matt. 4:12) and waited, expecting that Christ would do something to deliver him. However, although Christ did much to help others, He did nothing for him. For this reason, John was in danger of being stumbled (v. 6). Hence, he sent his disciples to Christ with such a stirring question. There was no doubt in John’s mind that Christ was the Messiah. He did not send his disciples to ask the Lord whether or not He was the Messiah. He was trying to provoke Christ to rescue him from prison. But it is very difficult to stir up the Lord Jesus. The more you try to provoke Him, the colder He becomes to you. You can never stir Him up by provoking Him. If you try to do this, He will become less willing to do something for you.
In verses 4 through 6 we have the Lord’s answer to John. Verses 4 and 5 say, “Go, report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” The Lord mentioned the blind receiving sight first, because there was no such miracle in the Old Testament. By this, He gave clear evidence to John that no other could have done such a miracle but the Messiah (Isa. 35:5). In spiritual significance, the blind receiving sight is also first. In the Lord’s salvation, He firstly opens our eyes (Acts 26:18); then we can receive Him and walk to follow Him. The lame signify those who cannot walk in God’s way. After being saved, they can walk by new life (9:5-6; John 5:8-9). The cleansed lepers signify those who have been saved from their rebellion (leprosy) to become the kingdom people. The deaf signify those who cannot hear God. After being saved, they can hear the Lord’s voice (John 10:27). The dead signify those who are dead in sins (Eph. 2:1, 5), unable to contact God. After being regenerated, with their regenerated spirit they can fellowship with God. The poor signify all the ones without Christ, without God, who have no hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). Upon receiving the gospel, they are made rich in Christ (2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 3:8). Verse 6 says, “And blessed is he who shall not be stumbled in Me.” This word implies that John the Baptist was in danger of being stumbled in the Lord, because the Lord did not act on his behalf according to his way. Here the Lord encouraged him to take the way the Lord had ordained for him that he might be blessed. This blessing has much to do with the participation in the kingdom of the heavens.
In these verses the Lord seemed to be saying to John, “There is no doubt that I am the Messiah. My being the Messiah does not depend on whether or not I do something for you. I have healed the blind, the deaf, and the sick. I have even raised the dead. But I don’t choose to do anything for you. Do not expect anything from Me. I will leave you in prison until you are beheaded. Blessed is the one who is not stumbled in Me.” In the Lord’s recovery we need to learn this lesson. Whenever the Lord does something positive for us, we are excited. But many times the Lord will not do anything for us. The reason He did nothing to rescue John from prison was that if John had been released from prison his ministry would have been in competition with the Lord’s ministry. John’s imprisonment was arranged sovereignly of the Lord to terminate his ministry, which was the ministry of recommendation. After the recommending work had been done, his ministry should be terminated. Therefore, God sovereignly terminated John’s ministry by imprisoning him.
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