Jesus and John the Baptist
1 When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he
went on from there to teach and to proclaim his message in their towns.
2 When John the Baptist heard in prison about the activities of Christ, he
sent a message by his disciples,
3 asking him: ¡°Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone
4 Jesus answered them, ¡°Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear,
the dead are brought back to life and good news is reaching the poor.
6 And how fortunate is the one who does not take offense at me.¡±
7 As the messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
¡°When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept
by the wind?
8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear
fine clothes live in palaces.
9 What did you actually go out to see? A proph et? Yes, indeed, and even
more than a prophet.
10 He is the man of whom Scripture says: I send my messenger ahead of you to
prepare the way before you.
11 I tell you this: no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward
among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is
greater than he.
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is
something to be conquered and the unyielding seize it.
13 Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy: all the prophets and the
14 and if you believe me, John is this Elijah, whose coming was predicted.
15 Let anyone with ears listen!
16 Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children
sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain:
17 ¡®We played the flute for you but you would not dance. We sang a
funeral-song but you would not cry!¡¯
18 For John came fasting and peo ple said: ¡®He is possessed.¡¯
19 Then the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and people said: ¡®Look at
this man! A glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!¡¯
Yet the outcome will prove Wisdom to be right.¡±
20 Then Jesus began to de nounce the cities in which he had performed most
of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways,
21 ¡°Alas for you Chorazin and Beth sai da! If the miracles worked in you had
taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the peo ple there would have repented long
ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day
of judgment than for you.
23 And you, Caper naum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown
down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in
you had taken place in So dom, it would still be there today!
24 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment
than for you.¡±
Take my yoke upon you
25 On that occasion Jesus said, ¡°Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise
you, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and
revealed them to simple people.
26 Yes, Father, this is what pleased you.
27 Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son
except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to
whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of
heart; and you will find rest.
30 For my yoke is good and my burden is light.¡±
Comments Mathew, Chapter 11
• 11.1 See commentary on Lk 7:18.
Jesus has sent the first missionaries: for Matthew it is the time to show
how the Kingdom comes ¨C the coming of which they have proclaimed. The visit
of the disciples of John will help us to understand what Jesus brings and
what cannot be expected of him.
The paragraph which follows in 11:25 will show in its way that what is
all-important in the Kingdom is the person of Jesus himself.
Good news is reaching the poor¡ (v. 5). Jesus¡¯ message includes a
preferential love of God for the poor and for those who share with them in
their poverty. The Gospel is not for them also, but for them first.
EVANGELIZATION OF THE POOR AS A PRIORITY
Good news is reaching the poor (v. 5). This text is to be read together with
Luke 1:52; 4:18; 6:20; 10:23.
It would be wrong to interpret this text as thinking only that God asks of
us to catechize less instructed people, or those of lower condition in life.
In the time of Jesus the Pharisees already thought their duty was to teach
simple and uneducated people; Jesus instead sent his apostles, poor among
the poor, to enable them to discover the presence and working of God the
Father. The concrete life of the rural and urban poor is the context in
which fundamental experiences occur that will renew the world and the
spiritual life of everyone.
V. 6. See another way of translating this sentence in Luke 7:23.
V. 11. No one greater than John the Baptist has come forward. This verse
refers to a prophet or to a political leader.
V. 12. This sentence could also be translated: ¡°The kingdom of heaven is
advancing forcefully.¡± The kingdom of God is the moving force that makes
history pro gress, taking advantage of both gentle and violent changes in
human life. The believers are called to participate actively in this
constant transformation. Death and resurrec tion are at work among us and
all over the world.
• 20. Chorazin and Bethsaida: these two cities were the seats of higher
schools of religion but had not received the Gospel. Tyre and Sidon: two
pagan cities, cursed by the prophets.
• 25. Jesus¡¯ prayer impressed the disciples. In this text it is a short
prayer, prompted by the most recent events; events and daily life are also a
source of prayer.
You have hidden these things. Intelligent people are not excluded from the
faith, of course, but it is the glory of God that faith should not seem to
be the privilege of the wise and the intelligent; human wisdom never gives
what is essential and often hides it. There were in Palestine at the time
some wise people and many others who pretended to be so, but they were
rarely seen among the disciples of Jesus.
Everything has been entrusted to me. God does what is needed for people to
have always and in all places thousands of ways of knowing him. In this life
it is only through Jesus that we have the revelation of the Father.
Must we translate ¡°learn from me for I am¡¡± or ¡°learn from me that I am¡¡±?
The humility of Jesus reveals to us the humility of God who never seeks to
put us down or intimidate us, but instead always wants to raise us to him.
Such humility does not prevent him from being God, and he may exact
everything from us because he does not use external force: his influence
reaches to the depths of our heart. See Lk 10:21.
Come to me: I will not relieve you of your load but by placing my yoke on
you, I give you the means of carrying the load.
Jesus plays with the two words yoke and load, for the Jews used to call
¡°load¡± the divine teachings imparted to pupils, and yoke the balancing of
the teacher¡¯s sentences, which should be learned by heart.
Jesus, the patient and humble teacher, enables us to see the mercy of God in
our lives and in our own cross. He shows us the love of God even in the
requirements of the Law. Only God is Good; and good is the authority of