John the Baptist – Questions
Matthew 11:1-19


Jesus' Qualifications as King (chaps. 1—4)

Sermon on the Mount: Who Can Enter His Kingdom and Live the Good Life (chaps. 5—7)

Jesus shows his authority with miracles and teaching (chaps 8—9)
Jesus sends the twelve out with authority and a message for Israel (chap. 10)

The rejection gains steam (chaps. 11—12)

Major Underlying issue:
We are moving into the period of time that people began to reject Jesus. QUESTION to think about prior to class: Why
the rejection? There was a rising tide of disappointment in and opposition to the kingdom of God that was resulting from
Jesus' ministry.
Like what? What was in the sermon on the mount that might cause people “heartburn”? How to be married – not divorce
on demand, where and how to pray – not in public, love your enemy, be humble, love mercy, care about injustice.
What did they want? A conquering military leader, to the victor belongs the spoils, conquest. He brought
SHALOM/PEACE, they wanted EMPIRE! (to be fair they wanted their country back, but many really just wanted power)

He was not turning out to be the kind of Messiah the people had expected.
1 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns
throughout the region.

What JEUS SAID: Jesus addresses the doubt > unbelief > confusion > fear.

2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So, he sent his disciples to ask
Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 4 Jesus told
them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy
are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6 And he added,
“God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about
him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath

of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in
palaces. 9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures
refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ 11 “I tell
you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom
of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of
Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and
the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one
the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! 16 “To what can I compare this
generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, 17 ‘We played wedding
songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ 18 For John didn’t spend his time eating
and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and
you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right
by its results.”
1) V2-3 Where was John the Baptist and based on his questions, what do you think was going on in his mind?
The questioning of Jesus by John, a representative of the best in Israel, points up the misconception of Israel as to what
the Kingdom was like and how it would be achieved. He had heard of the works of Jesus and they certainly appeared to be
Messianic. However, Jesus did not suddenly assert His authority and judge the people as John probably had thought He
QUESTION: What did John expect Jesus to do?
Matthew 3:10-12 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that
does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize with water those who repent of
their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy
even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate
the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his
barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
John’s timing vs God’s timing = Our timing vs God’s timing
QUESTION: At your table, is there anything that you are frustrated about the timing? Take a minute and vent.
>>>>>>>> God can handle what you just did. Trust Him.
Back to John: Because of this misconception he began to doubt. Perhaps his being in prison, a place which was certainly
incongruous for the herald of the King, reinforced his doubts. (What a commentary statement!) He went from popular
prophet to languishing in prison!
QUESTION: Anybody languish in jail or prison, nowhere to parole to, lost in the system? lament to God about it. Cry
out to him. Cry to him.
Review QUESTION: Why was John in prison? Herod Antipas had "imprisoned" John in the fortress of Machaerus, east
of the Dead Sea. "Herod Antipas of Galilee had paid a visit to his brother in Rome. During that visit he seduced his
brother's wife. He came home again, and dismissed his own wife, and married the sister-in-law whom he had lured away
from her husband. Publicly and sternly John rebuked Herod. It was never safe to rebuke an eastern despot; Herod took his
revenge; and John was thrown into the dungeons of the fortress of Machaerus down in the mountains near the Dead Sea."
One word > EMPIRE!
2) V4-5 What was Jesus answer? And why would John know exactly what he meant? See Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1
Jesus sent a summary of His ministry back to John. He used the language of Isaiah's prophecies to assure John that He
really was the Messiah. It is interesting that all of these Isaiah passages contain some reference to judgment. Thus, Jesus
assured John that He was the Coming One, and He implied that He would fulfill the judgment prophecies, though He had
not done so yet

V6 Probably a “gentle” warning (Forest) against allowing Jesus' ministry to become an obstacle to belief and a reason for
rejecting Jesus. It assumes that John and his disciples began well, but it warned them against reading the evidence of
Jesus' miracles incorrectly.


3) V7-11a John the Baptist was upset, confused, had doubts, was looking for answers. BUT JESUS defended him to
the crowd. What good things did Jesus say?
Reeds of cane grass grew abundantly along the Jordan River banks. "A reed" blown "by the wind" represents a person
easily swayed by public opinion or circumstances. "By the way John was not the reed shaken with the wind; he was a
wind shaking the reeds!
Prophet > Messenger > Preparer of the way for Jesus > Oh, and he’s greater than any of you! Case settled.
QUESTION: What can we learn about doubts? They happen, it doesn’t mean we’ve lost our faith, it means we are
human. Just always come back – trust Him – trust His Story – get back in His kingdom – the Good Life.
11b The best explanation, I believe, is that John at that time only anticipated the kingdom, whereas participants will be in
Jesus did not mean that John would fail to participate in the kingdom. He was simply contrasting participants and
announcers of the kingdom.
"… possession of a place in the kingdom is more important than being the greatest of the prophets."
4) V12-13 THEN JESUS provides more explanation, that all of this was prophesied. Then he says, “if you are willing
to accept what I say. What group had started being “against Jesus?” Who was he addressing this to? Who was
attacking what he was trying to do? (Hint, they questioned what John the Baptist was up to, too.)
The religious leaders of Jesus day were trying to bring in the kingdom in their own way. But they didn’t really represent
Shalom (peace) they had built their own kingdom.
QUESTION: What was their way? Follow the OT rules and their rules. They knew in OT times they had forgotten
God’s law and ended up in captivity (Assyria, Babylon) so they were gonna make sure they followed the rules (they
deemed important.)
QUESTION: Did the Sermon on the Mount sound like the OT law? Not at all. Except taking care of the poor, orphans,
widows, aliens. But we don’t hear much from the religious leaders about that group.
Hmm, we have Samaritan across the street but we don’t have a women’s overnight shelter in Hot Springs.
VIOLENT MEN: . Ever since John began his ministry of announcing Messiah, the Jewish religious leaders had opposed
him. Moreover, in 23:13, Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of trying to seize the reins of kingdom power from
Jesus, to lead the kingdom as they wanted it to go. They also snatched (took "by force") the kingdom from the people by
rejecting, and eventually crucifying, the Messiah. The imprisonment of John was another evidence of violence against the
kingdom by the Romans, Herod Antipas. John and Jesus both eventually died at the hands of these violent men.
5) V14-15 MORE ABOUT JOHN: Elijah was bold. John was bold. This was fulfillment of prophecy (not
reincarnation.) Is 40:3 Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the
Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Why do you think the religious leaders missed
who John was?
He didn’t come from within their group. He was an outsider. He didn’t fit. He looked weird. He dressed weird. He ate
weird food. BUT JESUS SAID: John is the one that prophesied. If you’ll just hear me. >> But many didn’t.

6) V16-19 What was Jesus saying?
Jesus concluded with a proverb that justified John's and His lifestyles.
The point was that the people found fault with whatever Jesus did.

Why the rejection? (Our beginning question)
– He did not behave or teach what they wanted Him to do or say, or as they expected that Messiah would do.
– His concept of the kingdom was different from theirs.
– They wanted a King who would fit into and agree with their traditional understanding of the Messiah.
– Consequently, they rejected Him.
Even though John lived as an ascetic, as some of the Old Testament prophets did, most of the Jews rejected him and
even charged him with "demon" possession.
Jesus ate and drank with "sinners," and many of the people criticized Him for lack of moderation and concluded that He
despised the Law.
So what? We’ve got some groups/people:
1) The loyal-hearted John the Baptist, who was perplexed >> Jesus corrected and vindicated him.
2) The unreasonable. “I don’t believe you.” “I’m too smart for this,” or “I’m religious,” “I know the answers” >> He
committed to the judgment of time.
3) The unrepentant, not paying attention ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral
songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ “walking around looking around” >> ultimately He cursed.
4) BUT SOME in the crowd were seeking, hurting, mourning, needing >> BUT GOD, Jesus called to Himself for
Let’s be #4 >> the ones that are OPEN to Jesus.
– OPEN to say yes, I want to be your follower >> not just a fan
– OPEN to say yes, I want to live in your kingdom >> my kingdom isn’t working out too well.
– OPEN to say yes, I want to be salt and light in my family, in my work, in my community >> not a problem for my
family and my community.
– OPEN to say yes, I want to be a part of a group, a church, that follows you >> because I’ll get lost on my own.