Matthew 11:1–15: The One Who is to Come
In Matthew 10, Jesus trained his disciples for the mission on which they would embark. As many commentators note, Matthew does not tell us explicitly that Jesus’ disciples went off to do the mission for which he had trained them in the previous chapter. This does not mean that Matthew ignored the mission, since he himself went on this mission, as one of the Twelve. It does, however, mean that narrating the details of the mission falls outside the scope of what Matthew intends to focus our attention upon. Here, Matthew offers of a dialogue between Jesus and the disciples of John that sheds important light on the identity of Jesus, the role of John the Baptist, and a singularly important—yet counterintuitive—fact: Jesus forcefully advances the kingdom of heaven by preaching and teaching.
1. After Jesus’ extensive instructions in Matthew 10, why do you think that Matthew tells us nothing about the actual mission the disciples went to do? Why does Matthew immediately redirect his narrative to tell us what Jesus continues to do through teaching and preaching? What about this raises questions for John the Baptist? What questions does Jesus’ work raise in your own mind? How does Jesus answer those questions?
2. What kind of a man does Jesus tell us John the Baptist was (vv. 7–8)? What does Jesus mean when he says that John was not only a prophet, but “more than a prophet” (v. 9)? What was the role of the messenger who was to come before the ultimate Coming One (v. 10)? How is John both greater than any who have come before him and also lesser than the least in the kingdom of heaven? What does that tell us about the gospel?
3. What does Jesus mean when he says that the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence/advanced violently (v. 12a)? What does Jesus mean when he says that the violent take it by force (v. 12b)? How do these two statements fill out our understanding of life as Christians? In light of this, what should we expect? What, then, should we do? Why does Jesus insist that this is something that must be grasped by faith, rather than sight (v. 15)?
4. What significance does the preaching of the gospel hold in your life? How do you respond to the preaching of the Word of God as it is happening? Does the way you treat the preaching of the gospel reflect the nature of preaching as the forceful advancement of God’s kingdom? Why or why not? How might you approach preaching differently? How might you seek to lay hold of Jesus through his Word preached this week?