What does Matthew 11:4 mean?
ESV: And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
NIV: Jesus replied, 'Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
NASB: Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and report to John what you hear and see:
CSB: Jesus replied to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see:
NLT: Jesus told them, 'Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen —
KJV: Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
NKJV: Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
Verse Commentary:
John the Baptist's disciples have come to Jesus with a question. John has heard about everything Jesus has been doing, and he wants to know if Jesus is the "one who is to come" or if they should be looking for someone else?

At first glance, this seems like a strange question from John the Baptist. He was the one who declared Jesus to be "the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29–31). He was the one who said he was not worthy even to tie Jesus' sandals (John 1:27). He also was present when God's voice spoke from heaven and declared that Jesus was His beloved Son.

It's even stranger, in a way, because John is responding to what he has heard about Jesus' ministry. Christ was going about Galilee, miraculously healing every kind of disease and affliction. He effortlessly cast out demons. He powerfully preached about the coming kingdom. Looking back, with the advantage of hindsight, we might think of these as obvious signs.

It's likely John was expecting Jesus to bring immediate judgment on those in Israel who had not repented of their sins. Perhaps John expected that judgment to reach his own captor, Herod Antipas, the Jewish ruler over parts of Israel under the rule of the Romans. From John's perspective, it might have seemed strange that Jesus had not yet brought earthly judgment. For many people of that era, who had lived under constant oppression, this was a common misunderstanding (John 6:15; Matthew 16:21–23). It would not be until after Christ's death and resurrection that the details prophesied in the Old Testament would become clear (John 2:22).

Another possibility is that John's question is not so much an expression of doubt as impatience—the equivalent of asking, "Jesus, are you going to do these things, or not?"

Jesus now instructs the messengers to go and tell John what they have witnessed. Jesus spells that out in the following verses, and John would have understood Him to be referencing passages in Isaiah about the coming Messiah. This is Jesus' evidence to John that He truly is the One who was to come.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:1–19 deals with John the Baptist, who is in prison at this point (Matthew 4:12). John sends his own disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them an answer and then upholds John to the crowds. He reminds them of John's strength and affirms that John was the prophet who fulfilled the prophecy about the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This generation, though, rejected John's message of repentance, saying that John had a demon and that Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus insists He and John will be proved right in the end.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/29/2024 1:41:51 PM
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