1Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. 2And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5The blind see 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. 6And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Chapters 11 and 12 record the beginning of a phase of Christ’s ministry of increasing opposition that challenged the Messiah’s authority.
The first 19 verses relay the imprisonment of John the Baptist.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples [apostles], that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
Having finished His Missions Sermon to the twelve apostles, Jesus turned to teach and preach in the cities of Galilee. Notice that Matthew depicted Jesus’ sermon in this chapter as “commanding.” Teaching emphasizes the content, and preaching the communication.
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ [Messiah], he sent two of his disciples
The John here is John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah. John was the original catalyst for the coming of the Messiah. He was imprisoned by Herod in the fortress of Machaerus at this time. This fortress was in the mountains near the Dead Sea. Herod put him there because John called attention to his adulterous affair—seduction of his brother’s wife. Discouraged at not seeing the kingdom established, John sent a message, by two of his own disciples, to Jesus.
and said to Him, “Are You [emphatic] the Coming One, or do we look for another [Greek–of a different kind]?”
John had doubts about whether Jesus was the “Coming One” and wanted confirmation that He was indeed the Messiah. The Baptist couldn’t reconcile Jesus’ rejection. He thought that Jesus came to set up the Millennial kingdom, but he did not have full understanding of the rejection of Jesus by Israel. Israel was in the process of rejecting Jesus as Messiah.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
Jesus did not answer that, yes, He was the Messiah. Instead, he told John’s disciples to return to John and tell him of Jesus’ miracles, which were the proof of His Messiahship.
The blind see 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.
This verse is the delineation of facts about the credentials for Jesus’ Messiahship. John’s disciples needed to tell him about such miracles as the blind seeing and the dead rising. Jesus alluded to His ministry fulfilling Isaiah 8:13-14 and 35:5-6. Jesus added that His ministry was reaching the poor, and this was fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
John needed to move beyond his limited expectations. All those who accept Christ’s Messiahship will not by scandalized by it—that is, those who have no doubts about Jesus. The Greek word “offended” is scandalized. The idea of being scandalized by Jesus means to lose faith in Him as the Messiah. Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who persevere in their belief in Him.
True faith rises above circumstance.
Some Christians come to doubt their faith after believing in Christ. This is especially true for those who face insurmountable trial. John would remain in prison, and eventually Herod severed his head from his body. Yet he remained faithful in the direst circumstance. True faith rises above circumstance.