Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
2) Matthew 11 - Verse 2 and following
Matthew 11:2 - Now when John heard in the prison, taken as introductory to this section, does not mean that this
event has even the slightest connection with the foregoing material in Matthew's chapter 10. The time reference is
The disciples of John told him all (Luke 7:18). Very likely, the disciples' report included these things: the curing of
the Centurion's slave and the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, and many other signs (Luke 7:1-17).
Knowledge of John's imprisonment is available from many sources (Matthew 4:12, Matthew 14:3-5, Mark 6:17-20,
Herodias had a grudge against him and would willingly have executed him but she could not do it - for Herod had a
deep respect for John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, so he protected him. When he listened to him he
was greatly disturbed, yet he enjoyed hearing him (Mark 6:19-20).
From these sources we may conclude that in Herod's border-castle, Marchaerus, near the northeast end of the
Dead Sea, was the site where John spent his last days. The puppet-king Herod Antipas merely shut the wilderness
preacher in the fort, but did not ill-treat him.
Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another? Why did John ask it? Did he wish perhaps to confirm to his
disciples what he himself had claimed for Jesus?
Christ's reply was addressed not to the disciples but "Go and tell John" (Matthew 11:4). The blessing is stated in
the singular "Blessed is he" as if deliberately leveled at John.
Was this the Kingdom he had come to announce as near at hand; for which he had longed, prayed, toiled, suffered,
utterly denied himself and all that made life pleasant. Where was the Christ? Was He the Christ? What was He
doing? Was He eating and drinking all this while with publicans and sinners, when he, the Baptist, was suffering for
Him? . . . Had he succeeded in anything? What if, after all, there had been some terrible mistake on his part? At
any rate the logic of events was against him. He was now the fast prisoner of that Herod, to whom he had spoken
with authority; in the power of that bold adulteress, Herodias. It must have been a terrible hour at the end of one' s
life to have such a question meeting him as: Art Thou He; or do we wait for another? Am I right, or in error and
leading others into error?
Inspiration on some subjects, after all, does not mean omniscience on all. The possession of great visions do not
give total knowledge. This question, accordingly, is not a failure of confidence or of John's personal faith, since
John sends his disciples directly to Jesus and to no one else. The main thrust of his evangelism had been a call to
hear the Messiah. This question posed by John is our question too! Is Jesus the final revelation of God, or not?
However anguishing this question must have been to Jesus, His reply to John was so Christ-like. He grasped
perfectly the torture of the Gethsemane out of which His famous cousin cried. He knew every hour of anguish John
was then enduring down in the dank cell of Machaerus.