Woe to unrepentant cities.
Parallel passage at Lk 10:13-15.
v.20 Jesus denounces several cities, in close proximity to one another, because they had been given the light of the gospel and had seen (most of) Jesus’ mighty works but remained unrepentant. With knowledge of the truth comes greater responsibility.
v.21-22 “Woe” is used to express grief and regret but in this context also signifies judgment. Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities near Capernaum on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Your response to Jesus’ message is what will determine your eternal fate. We are told that had the miracles been done in Tyre and Sidon, those cities would have repented in sack cloth and ashes. The residents of Chorazin and Bethsaida no doubt thought they were God’s people, but it is not people who think they are good enough that will be welcomed to God’s kingdom, but rather those who receive the gospel and repent of their sins.
v.23-24 In these verses, Capernaum is said to be brought low (though they perhaps thought themselves exalted). If the miracles done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (the epitome of a “city of sin”) it would have remained to this day. It will be more bearable at the judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum who missed her great opportunity.
Read Matthew 11:20-24
v.1 This verse marks a transition from the previous discourse where Jesus is instructing his disciples (on their missionary work) to a new section with Jesus teaching others and doing mighty works. Jesus is said to go about preaching (see also 9:35).
Jesus and John the Baptist (11:2-19)
Parallel passage in Lk 7:18-35.
v.2-3 John was imprisoned by Herod Antipas for denouncing Herod’s immoral marriage to his brother’s wife (14:1-12). While awaiting death in prison, he hears about the things Jesus (the Christ) is doing. John sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the Messiah or should they look for another. John is expecting the the Messiah to usher in a messianic kingdom in which those who repent are rewarded and the evil punished (see 3:1-12).
v.4-6 Jesus points out his deeds that prove that he is the long awaited Messiah (Jn 5:36) and that the prophesied time of salvation had indeed come (the year of the Lord’s favor, Is 61:1-3). The blind see (Is 35:5), the lame walk (Is 35:6), lepers are cleansed (Is 53:4), the deaf hear (Is 29:18-19), the dead are raised (Is 26:18-19), and the poor hear the gospel preached to them (Is 61:1). While Jesus points to the old testament prophesies concerning the Messiah, he also recognizes that some aspect of his ministry is unexpected. But blessed is the one that believes anyway (lit. is not offended by me, Is 8:14-15). His own hometown toke offense at him (13:57), is this not the carpenter?
v.7-10 Jesus begins teaching the crowds about John as the disciples leave to report back to John what Jesus said and did. He asks several rhetorical questions. What did the people go out to the wilderness to see (in John), a reed shaken by the wind?, no!, a man dressed in nice clothing?, no!, a prophet? yes!, John is the one foretold by the prophet in Mal 3:1 (Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you). John is the very one who proceeds the Messiah. And Jesus is the Messiah/Christ/“Coming One”, Mt 16:16.
v.11 Jesus continues his praise of John. Of those born in the ordinary way, none has risen that is greater than John. BUT, the very least of those having received the new birth (born again), is greater still.
v.12 That the kingdom of God has suffered violence probably refers to the opposition by the religious establishment.
v.13-15 All the prophets and the law prophesied until John indicates a closing of the old age and the initiation of the church age. John was the coming of Elijah (Mt 17:10-13 and Mal 4:5). Take care to understand this (he who has ears to hear).
v.16-19 Wisdom is justified by her children. The people rejected Jesus because he did not conform to their expectations. They are like selfish children, always wanting things their own way.
Read Matthew 11:1-19
v.40 Receiving a disciple is like receiving Jesus because the disciple bears Christ’s message and authority (much like an ambassador). And receiving Jesus is like receiving the Father. See Mk 9:37, Lk 9:48, Jn 12:44-45 for similar statements.
v.41 A prophet is someone who speaks for God. If you receive a prophet and his message you will share in the prophets reward.
v.42 There is also a reward for receiving children because of their commitment to Christ. See for example Mt 18:10.
Read Matthew 10:40-42
Not peace, but a sword
v.34-36 Jesus says he came not to bring peace but rather a sword. Man against father, woman against mother. Christians will suffer persecutions from their own family. This was especially the case with Jewish Christians in the days this gospel is written. The Jews in those days expected the coming of the Messiah to be accompanied by peace and prosperity. Likewise in our day many in the church expect Jesus to bring peace (and/or prosperity). But we live in a world hostile to the true disciple of Jesus. There is untold suffering of Christians in the world today. See Lk 12:51-53 and Mi 7:6.
v.37 Jesus further explains that whoever loves father or mother (or son/daughter) more than him is not worthy of the kingdom. This is a hard teaching because we love our children. We must love our family and friends to be sure, but we must love Jesus supremely (Carson, Matthew).
v.38 We must follow Jesus in the face of possible rejection as when Jesus was rejected and carried his own cross. Mt 16:24 says we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Also Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23 and Lk 14:27. “Take up your cross” involves loving him and being willing to follow him no matter what the social or physical consequences.
v.39 As in Mt 16:25, Jesus here teaches that we find life (in the age to come) by losing our lives (perhaps disciplined self denial) for his sake. Here we are talking about discipleship and accepting or rejecting Jesus in this life has eternal consequences.
Read Matthew 10:34-39
Daniel in the Bible
I recently was in a discussion with a friend about whether the story of Daniel, his trials, and visions are historical (they are). The link above has some of the references to Daniel in the bible.
Job in the Bible
I recently was in a discussion with a friend about whether the story of Job and his trials is historical (it is). The link above has some of the references to Job in the bible.
Do not fear opposition
See parallel at Lk 12:2-9.
v.26-28 Do not fear (the opposition), for the truth will not always be hidden from view (it will be revealed by God). The day of judgment is coming when the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked punished. Fear rather God who can destroy the body and soul in hell (eternal suffering). Speak openly and from the housetops.
v.29-31 Did you know the hairs of your head are numbered by God. A small common bird may not be worth much in our standard, but not one will fall to the ground apart from God’s will. We can take great comfort in that because we are worth far more to God than the bird. If God cares so for the birds, he will care for his own people that much more (despite any present suffering). God cares for us because of his amazing grace not because we deserve it.
v.32-33 Acknowledge Christ before men and he will acknowledge you before the Father in heaven. Acknowledge means to confess him (before men) and trust in him (at all times). Remain faithful to Jesus even in the face of certain death. But even if we aren’t faithful, he is faithful.
Read Matthew 10:26-33
Noah and the flood in the Bible.
I recently was in a discussion with a friend about whether the story of Noah and the flood is historical (it is). The link above has some of the references to Noah in the bible.
v.16 Jesus warns his disciples of persecutions that they must endure as missionaries to the world. They should be like (helpless) sheep amidst wolves (Pharisees/established religion). He instructs them to be shrewd (or astute) as serpents and innocent (or harmless) as doves (Phil 2:15). This calls for a careful balance between cunning and vulnerability when we spread the good news. “…Be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Rom 16:19). This section (16-25) applies to missionaries throughout the church age.
v.17-18 Jesus instructs them to beware, they will be handed over to courts and flogged in synagogues. This reflects persecution at the hands of government and at the hands of organized religion. Disciples will be dragged before the authorities, and this will be an opportunity to be a witness to them.
v.19-20 Don’t worry about what to say in that hour of trouble (parallel Lk 12:11-12) for the Spirit will give you the words to say when the time comes (e.g., Acts 4:8-13). This doesn’t mean to not prepare (Col 4:6), but rather to not worry. Be ready at all times to give a defense of your faith, 2 Tim 4:2. How many of us are ready today?
v.21-22 Here the evangelist alludes to Mi 7:6, brother will be against brother, children will rebel against parents. All (hyperbole) men will hate you (on account of Jesus) but stand firm to the end and you will be saved. That is, enduring persecution is evidence of a commitment to Jesus, it is not the means of salvation.
v.23 When persecuted in one town, flee to the next. The comes the difficult to interpret statement that they will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. The best interpretation seems to be that this refers to the second coming of Christ. A good alternative is his coming in Judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
v.24-25 The disciple is not above his teacher. If they called Jesus Beelzebul, how much more will they malign his disciples. Beelzebul is the prince of demons and referred to Satan.
Read Matthew 10:16-25