Summary of passage: After instructing his disciples, Jesus preached throughout the towns of Galilee. John the Baptist sent his disciples from prison to ask Jesus if he is the one they are expecting. Jesus said he has come to heal and preach the good news.
Jesus said of John the Baptist that he is the one who is the messenger sent ahead of him. No one born of woman is greater than he; yet if you accept Jesus, even the least in the kingdom of heaven are greater than John. He is the Elijah who was to come.
The people are like children, judging wrongly. Wisdom will prove right by actions.
3a) John was probably expecting a political messiah, one who came to overthrow the Romans and establish a literal kingdom on earth. Instead, Jesus came to establish a kingdom of peace on earth. I also think after languishing in prison for a while your mind goes. John was probably wondering if Jesus was going to free him or not and wanted to make sure Jesus hadn’t forgotten him. Also, his mind could not be as clear as before from lack of food, torture, staring at nothing but walls, etc.
b) Jesus listed all he has done on earth: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed are those who do not fall away because of him.
c) Personal Question. My answer: I have tons of questions about where my path lies and I always pray, “God, lead me down your path and make me choose your way”. He always answers. For instance, in teaching. I believe I’m meant to teach my own kids for the rest of their teaching years and not others. He has shown me that by giving me a chance to teach others’ kids.
4) Isaiah 29:18-19: The deaf will hear the blind will see. The humble will rejoice in the Lord.
Isaiah 35:5-6: The blind will see and the deaf will hear. The lame will leap like deer and the mute will shout for joy. Water will gush in the wilderness and streams will appear in the desert.
Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus and he has been anointed to preach the good news to the poor. He binds up the brokenhearted and he releases prisoners from the darkness (hell if they believe in him). He proclaims the Lord’s favor and comforts those who mourn and grieve. People will have a crown of beauty, gladness, praise, and oaks of righteousness.
NOTE: Jesus quoted this passage himself in Luke 4:18-19 about himself when he read this passage in the synagogue when he was ready to announce himself as the messiah.
5) Jesus meant just what he said: John was as great as any man who had ever lived since he was the one chosen to testify to the world about Jesus and be the forerunner; BUT even the lowest-ranking person in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John for now they had Jesus to save them from their sins.
Also, John will not get to enjoy the benefits of living under the New Covenant for we will see in Matthew 14 John the Baptist’s death. Thus, since John died before Jesus, he is the greatest under the Old Covenant but least under the New Covenant. (See 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:6-13 for the benefits of the New Covenant).
Conclusions: I thought question 5 was self-explanatory and didn’t need any passages to back it up. Jesus was speaking plainly here. I think BSF is looking for the Old versus New Covenant differential that Jesus is explaining here.
I like how even John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and chosen one by God to testify about Jesus, had questions about Jesus. It shows we are all human and there is nothing wrong with questioning the happenings in our lives as long as we never question who Jesus is.
End Notes: Some scholars say John sent his disciples to Jesus for the disciples’ sake of clarification. Others say some Jews thought there were two people coming: a messiah and a prophet. It’s difficult to say John’s motivations in asking Jesus if he was the one or not.
Jesus reminded them his kingdom is about perseverance in the small things, in day-to-day living. Still true today.
Then Jesus bears witness for John. Cool, huh?
BSF did not ask about the rest of the passage because there are different interpretations to verse 12. However, a good question could have come from verses 16-19 because Jesus is criticizing his generation for lack of faith. We could do the same for our generation and our children’s.
Fun Fact: ”He who has ears, let him hear” is a common saying by Jesus when he says something important. This is the first time it is quoted in Matthew.