Swords, Rewards, and Messengers
““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”” (Matthew 10:34–11:19, ESV)
Not Peace, A Sword
Earlier, Jesus stated that a divide would exist between families (10:20–21), and now he clarifies that He will be the leading factor in this friction and division between households. Jesus asks for nothing short of absolute faithfulness from his disciples. Such loyalty should never waver, not even when it comes to family life's difficulties. The way of Jesus is the way of death, but it is in losing one's life that one will ultimately find it. There is a close connection between the work of Jesus and that of his apostles. Jesus does not overlook deeds of kindness toward his; whoever does acts of service will be regarded as if they carried it out toward Jesus himself.
Questions From John the Baptist
From his imprisonment, John the Baptist remained loyal to his mission and sent his disciples to meet Jesus. He asked if Jesus was the one prophesied or if someone else would be coming. It seems that John the Baptist may have been facing doubt and uncertainty as he waits in his cell. He knew his calling, but as one faces the reality of death, questions can creep into one's mind. John's question is received and is answered with the directive for them to go and tell John what they see and hear, which references Isaiah 61:1. The gospel is being preached, and the miracles of healing and resurrection authenticate Jesus’ ministry and authority.
Greater Than John
Jesus does not disparage John for his questions. Instead, he speaks words of grace over him and describes the significance of John's ministry. Jesus quotes Malachi 3:1 to explain that John is the messenger preparing the way for the Messiah. Jesus honored John as the greatest person ever born yet emphasized that even the least of those under Christ's authority surpasses John.
The reception that John received was not warm, similar to the response that Jesus received. Jesus reflects how people resist committing—like children refusing to join in each other’s games. John plays a dirge, and Jesus plays a dance—but neither is acceptable. The impact of Jesus and John's work will ultimately prove the truth of their words.
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