Matthew 11:11

These words of our Lord read like a paradox. They are alter the manner of his strong startling sayings that arrest attention and dart surprising thoughts into our mind. Nevertheless, understood as he meant them to be, they contain no exaggeration.

I. THE GREATNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. All parties of Jews had agreed in honouring the wonderful prophet of the wilderness. He had now passed from his popular work to the seclusion of a dungeon, and the frown of the government was upon him. In his lonely imprisonment he had been visited by distressing doubts, and Jesus had just heard of his difficulties. But all the more did our Lord delight to honour his forerunner, and now that John was seen at the greatest disadvantage, Jesus, magnanimously passing by the slight offered to himself, described him with language of the highest possible honour.

1. John was great as a man. His life was lofty, simple, unselfish, and devoted.

(1) He showed fearless courage in standing before a king and denouncing royal wickedness.

(2) He showed deep humility in giving place at the height of his popularity to an obscure New-Comer.

2. John was great as a prophet. His influence was felt throughout Palestine and even beyond its borders. Alone, but a voice crying in the wilderness, he thundered against the prevalent evils of all classes, and succeeded in spreading an earthquake-wave through society.

3. John was great in preparing for Christ. This was his peculiar function, and herein lay his unique supremacy. He was the last of the pro-Christian prophets, and he prepared the soil for the new seed of the Word of Christ.

II. THE OBVIOUS INFERIORITY OF' THE LEAST CHRISTIAN. It would be a piece of inordinate vanity for a commonplace Christian to pretend that he was in himself superior to John the Baptist. There are very imperfect Christians who yet cannot be denied the name of followers of Christ.

1. These people are inferior in character. Compared with John the Baptist, they are cowardly, selfish, and worldly.

2. These people are inferior in gifts. They are not prophets. They see no new truth; they speak no Divine words; they do nothing remarkable, and very little that is at all helpful to their fellows.

III. THE SECRET OF THE CHRISTIAN GREATNESS. Obviously this does not consist in personal goodness or attainment. It is purely a result of new advantages. It is like the elevation of the dwarf on the giant's shoulders. The rider will reach the goal first if he is on a swift horse and is contending with a foot-runner, although he may not be so agile. Modern ammunition and military tactics give the soldiers of Europe and America an immense advantage over barbarous warriors, although the latter may in some cases equal them or even surpass them in strength and courage. The least Christian has certain advantages which were beyond the reach of the greatest prophet.

1. The knowledge of Christ. The context shows that John had not reached this knowledge. Yet it is the heritage of every Christian.

2. The life from Christ. The Christian is redeemed, and to him a new life is given. Christ is in him.

3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit. The world waited for that in waiting for the advent of Christ. Christians live under the new dispensation of the Spirit. John belonged to the servitude of the Law; Christians enjoy the sonship of the gospel. - W.F.A.

There hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.
Is it contrary to any true theory of John's prophetical mission that he should be for once seized with a spasm of doubt? Great men are not at their greatest at all times. The heavenly treasure is in earthen vessels. There are two sufficient reasons for his doubt: —

1. Things were turning out somewhat differently from his own programme. He was falling into the mistake we often make of fancying ourselves architects in God's world, whereas we are only day labourers.

2. John's message came from the inside of a prison. A man of his temperament, flung back from great activities to mope by himself, was almost sure to get a little strained in his views of things. For such men the difficulty is not to do hard things, but to be kept back from doing them. Note, now, the way in which Christ deals with this message.How is the doubter received? No word of anger or remonstrance.

1. He gives the messengers clear proof of His Messiahship, and then, when their back is turned, He speaks to the multitude of John in terms of commendation.

2. Observe what Christ says concerning John — "What; went ye out for to see." Men go out to see what there is to see: what we bring to a thing conditions what we shall bring away from it. "Notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." We are all of us higher up than John. We are so by virtue of belonging to a dispensation beyond his. The baptism of Pentecost lifted the world to a higher stage, and we are on that higher stage. It is a glorious thought that, under God, the human race is continually advancing.

3. Take two particulars as regards our dispensation: —

1. We have the advantage of John in the testimony we bear, from the facts we deal with, as compared with those of which he spake. He sketched the Christ in outline; we have the picture filled up.

2. The advantage of the worker in the Christian Church over the Baptist is seen in the kind of effort to which he puts his hand. John's work was to bring men to repentance; this its limit. But in the Christian Church this work is to be carried on through all the process of sanctification, till it lifts the soul to the topmost heights of holiness. The element of the remarkable and extraordinary is not always the measure of real value. John's career was extraordinary. We do a work thousands have done before. Yearn not to be eccentric, but deep and. real.

(J. Brierley, B. A.)

Each generation is on higher ground than the last. Fathers, respect your children, they are older than you. Do people speak of me as some forty years of age, more or less? Nonsense. I Amos 6,000 years old, at least. I have in me the sum of the lives and consciousness of all who preceded me, and something new added besides. We are trees which, through the root, drink up the virtue of the soil around them — soil made up of the buried generations of trees — and bring forth also something new in their own fruit and flower. In the light of this, what business have we to be always looking to the past, as if there were nothing of goodness or value in the world but what is hundreds and thousands of years old:' You get people who, in religion, are nothing if not antiquarian. If Quakers, they think there were never such days as those of George Fox; if Methodists, there will never be the like again of John Wesley and his fellows; if Churchmen, they grope about amongst the fathers, and hold that wisdom and worth died with them. This is a wrong mood of mind. We want to take in all our predecessors can teach us: hut, oh, if we have faith in the living God we shall have belief in the boundless possibilities also, of the present and of the future. Man is going on. He is pushed up from behind. He is drawn up from above. Yes [ John is mighty in his generation. But those who come after are higher than he. Onward, upward l Oh, that we may not hinder the progress in ourselves, but spread every sail, stretch every stitch of canvas to the breeze that bears us along to the celestial country!

(J. Brierley, B. A.)

I. THE MEANING OF THE TEXT. The first clause is simple enough; it states that John Baptist was greater than all who preceded him. The second clause is the difficulty least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." What is intended by "the kingdom of heaven" — the kingdom of glory, or of grace, or both? It is of course true that the least in heaven is greater and more privileged than John. It is better to he with Christ than on earth. But the kingdom of glory is not meant here. The term is almost universally used with reference to the kingdom of God on earth. "The kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, cometh not with observation." This refers to earth: the heavenly kingdom will come with splendour. The gospel dispensation is intended. Who are the least:' Not the apostles, but the saint.

II. THE REASON. In what sense John was greater than all who preceded him.

1. One might take the personal character of John, and his superiority will be seem His zeal was great, he was the messenger before our Lord. This establishes the great superiority of John. No prophet actually prepared the way of the Saviour. Real greatness is approximation to God. The man who knows God best is greatest. Who was ever brought into such near connection with God as John? He was the friend of the Bridegroom. The dispensation of John was peculiar; he stood between the law and the gospel. How is it that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John? Observe the expression "least in the kingdom of heaven." John was not in the kingdom of heaven. It all turns upon this. Our Lord draws the contrast. John was the greatest of all who went before him; but the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he — hot in heaven, but on earth.The kingdom of heaven, in the sense here intended, commenced with the day of Pentecost; it is essentially connected both with the in-dwelling and out-pouring of the Holy Ghost. John said. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

1. The least in the kingdom of heaven is participator of all that the God of heaven can bestow. Nothing more can be given him.

2. The least in the kingdom of heaven is a member of the bride's.

3. The least in the kingdom of heaven is a temple of the Holy Ghost.

4. The least in the kingdom of heaven has the spirit of adoption — the spirit of a son.

5. The least in the kingdom of heaven is brought into relationship with each of the Persons in the Trinity, in a sense which John was not.

6. The least in the kingdom of heaven may therefore become the greatest. Let us realize the greatness of the gospel dispensation.

(Capet Molyneux, B. A.)

Elias, Elijah, Jesus, John
Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Galilee, Sidon, Sodom, Tyre
Anyone, Arisen, Baptist, Baptizer, Born, Certainly, Greater, Heaven, Heavens, John, Kingdom, Least, Lower, Notwithstanding, Raised, Rank, Reign, Risen, Solemnly, Sons, Truly, Verily, Women, Yet
1. John sends his disciples to Jesus.
7. Jesus' testimony concerning John.
16. The perverse judgment of the people concerning the Son.
20. Jesus upbraids Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum;
25. and praising his Father's wisdom in revealing the Gospel to the simple,
28. he calls to him those who are weary and burdened.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 11:11

     2345   Christ, kingdom of
     2378   kingdom of God, characteristics

Matthew 11:10-14

     5098   John the Baptist

Matthew 11:11-18

     5098   John the Baptist

The Friend of Publicans and Sinners
'The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children,'--MATT. xi. 19. Jesus very seldom took notice of His enemies' slanders. 'When He was reviled He reviled not again.' If ever He did, it was for the sake of those whom it harmed to distort His beauty. Thus, here He speaks, without the slightest trace of irritation, of the capricious inconsistency of condemning Himself and John
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sodom, Capernaum, Manchester
'Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not.' --MATT. xi. 20. These words, and the woes which they introduce, are found in another connection in Luke's Gospel. He attaches them to his report of the mission of the seventy disciples. Matthew here introduces them in an order which seems not to depend upon time, but upon identity of subject. It is his method in his Gospel to group together similar events, as we have it exemplified, for instance,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Christ's Strange Thanksgiving
'I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' --MATT. xi. 25. When Jesus was about to cure one dumb man, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and sighed. Sorrow filled His soul in the act of working deliverance. The thought of the depth of the miseries He had come to heal, and of the ocean of them which He was then diminishing but by one poor drop, saddened Him. When Jesus thought of the woes that had
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

John's Doubts of Jesus, and Jesus' Praise of John
'Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3. And said unto Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another? 4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. 7.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Rest Giver
'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.'--MATT. xi. 28, 29. One does not know whether tenderness or majesty is predominant in these wonderful words. A divine penetration into man's true condition, and a divine pity, are expressed in them. Jesus looks with clearsighted compassion into the inmost history of all hearts, and sees the toil and the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Rest for the Weary
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. W hich shall we admire most -- the majesty, or the grace, conspicuous in this invitation? How soon would the greatest earthly monarch be impoverished, and his treasures utterly exhausted, if all, that are poor and miserable, had encouragement to apply freely to him, with a promise of relief, fully answerable to their wants and wishes! But the riches of Christ are unsearchable and inexhaustible. If millions and millions
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Messiah's Easy Yoke
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. T hough the influence of education and example, may dispose us to acknowledge the Gospel to be a revelation from God; it can only be rightly understood, or duly prized, by those persons who feel themselves in the circumstances of distress, which it is designed to relieve. No Israelite would think of fleeing to a city of refuge (Joshua 20:2.
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Yoke of Christ.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."--Matt. xi. 29, 30. These words, which are brought before us in the Gospel of to-day's festival[1], are also found in the address made to us upon Ash Wednesday, in which we are told that if we "return unto Him who is the merciful Receiver of all true penitent sinners, if we will take His easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 2, "Now when John Heard in the Prison the Works of the Christ, He Sent by his Disciples,
1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel has set before us a question touching John the Baptist. May the Lord assist me to resolve it to you, as He hath resolved it to us. John was commended, as ye have heard, by the testimony of Christ, and in such terms commended, as that there had not risen a greater among those who were born of women. But a greater than he had been born of a Virgin. How much greater? Let the herald himself declare, how great the difference is between himself and his Judge, whose herald
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that Thou Didst Hide These Things From
1. When the Holy Gospel was being read, we heard that the Lord Jesus exulted in Spirit, and said, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2252] Thus much to begin [2253] with, we find before we pass on further, if we consider the words of the Lord with due attention, with diligence, and above all with piety, that we ought not invariably to understand when we read of "confession" in
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth," Etc.
1. We have heard the Son of God saying, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." What doth he confess to Him? Wherein doth he praise Him? "Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2288] Who are the "wise and prudent"? Who the "babes"? What hath He hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes? By the "wise and prudent," He signifieth those of whom St. Paul speaks; "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto Me, all Ye that Labour and are Heavy Laden, and I Will Give You
1. It seems strange to some, Brethren, when they hear the Lord say, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [2323] And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Sinner's Friend
"Savior of sinners they proclaim, Sinners of whom the chief I am." What the invidious Jews said in bitter spleen, has been turned by the Holy Spirit to the most gracious account. Where they poured out vials of hate, odours of sacred incense arise. Troubled consciences have found a sweet balm in the very sound. Jesus, "the friend of publicans and sinners," has proved himself friendly to them, and they have become friends with him; so completely has he justified the very name which his enemies gave
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

Rest, Rest
We will, this morning, if we can, conduct you into the inner chambers of out text, place its words under the microscope, and peer into the recesses of each sentence. We only wish our microscope were of a greater magnifying power, and our ability to expound the text more complete; for there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Holy violence
"But," says one, "do you wish us to understand, that if a man is to be saved he must use violence and vehement earnestness in order to obtain salvation?" I do, most assuredly; that is the doctrine of the text. "But," says one, "I thought it was all the work of God." So it is, from first to last. But when God has begun the work in the soul, the constant effect of God's work in us is to set us working; and where God's Spirit is really striving with us, we shall begin to strive too. This is just a test
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

The Meek and Lowly One
I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST CLAIMS. He declares that he is "MEEK." Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak of him in several ways. 1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested by zealots and bigots. Take,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

Powerful Persuasives
I HAVE preached to you, dear friends, several times from the words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is such sweetness in the precept, such solace in the promise, that I could fain hope to preach from it many times more. But I have no intention just now to repeat what I have said in any former discourse, or to follow the same vein of thought that we have previously explored. This kindly and gracious invitation needs only to be held up in different
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
(From the Gospel for St. Matthias'-day, 24th February) Of the proper marks of true humility. Matt. xi. 29.--"Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." CHRIST, our blessed Lord, the true master and teacher of all art and virtue, and a pattern of all perfection, when He came down from Heaven to instruct us poor ignorant men, did not see fit to make use of great subtleties, or mysterious and ingenious statements of truth; but in short, plain, simple words He delivered to us a maxim, and gave us
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent
(From the Gospel for the day) How that we must wholly come out from ourselves, that we may go into the wilderness and behold God. Matt. xi. 7.--"What went ye out into the wilderness for to see?" OUR Lord Jesus Christ said unto the Jews, "What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" In these words let us consider three things: First, the going out; secondly, the wilderness; thirdly, what we are to see there. First, let us consider the going out. This blessed going
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sixth Day. Thankfulness.
"I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."--Matt. xi. 25. A thankful spirit pervaded the entire life of Jesus, and surrounded with a heavenly halo His otherwise darkened path. In moments we least expect to find it, this beauteous ray breaks through the gloom. In instituting the memorial of His death, He "gave thanks!" Even in crossing the Kedron to Gethsemane, "He sang an hymn!" We know in seasons of deep sorrow and trial that every thing wears a gloomy aspect. Dumb Nature herself to
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Fifth Day. Meekness.
"I am meek and lowly in heart."--Matt. xi. 29. There is often a beautiful blending of majesty and humility, magnanimity and lowliness, in great minds. The mightiest and holiest of all Beings that ever trod our world was the meekest of all. The Ancient of Days was as the "infant of days." He who had listened to nothing but angel-melodies from all eternity, found, while on earth, melody in the lispings of an infant's voice, or in an outcast's tears! No wonder an innocent lamb was His emblem, or
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

"I Will Give You Rest. "
A COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE. "I will give you rest."--Matthew xi. 28. "I WILL GIVE YOU REST." WE have a thousand times considered these words as an encouragement to the labouring and the laden; and we may, therefore, have failed to read them as a promise to ourselves. But, beloved friends, we have come to Jesus, and therefore He stands engaged to fufil this priceless pledge to us. We may now enjoy the promise; for we have obeyed the precept. The faithful and true Witness, whose word is truth,
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion the Voice of Christ
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,(1) saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2) Take, eat: this is My Body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.(4) (1) Matthew xi. 28 (2) John vi. 51. (3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. (4) John vi.
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

The Baptist's Inquiry and Jesus' Discourse Suggested Thereby.
(Galilee.) ^A Matt. XI. 2-30; ^C Luke VII. 18-35. ^c 18 And the disciples of John told him of all these things. ^a 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent by his disciples ^c 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them unto the Lord [John had been cast into prison about December, a.d. 27, and it was now after the Passover, possibly in May or June, a.d. 28. Herod Antipas had cast John into prison because John had reproved him for taking his brother's wife.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

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