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4 should come, or do we look for another ? Jesus answered and
said unto them: Go and show John again those things which 5 ye do hear and see ; the blind receive their sight, and the lame
hered to him in his adversity, and to rescue him so long imprisoned, obeyed him as before. Those friends which he could so easily effect by who continue faithful in the day of his miraculous power, had shaken trouble are friends indeed.
his previous belief, and that he now 3. We learn from the narrative wished to decide the matter by a that John and Jesus did not pro- reference to Jesus himself. The ceed in concert, but acted indepen- last seems the most rational interdently. Whatever testimony there- pretation of John's conduct. His fore either gave to the character or ideas of the office of the Messiah claims of the other has the value were similar to those of his counof impartial and independent evi- trymen at large, who were lookdence. There could have been no ing for a temporal kingdom. This collusion between them. Art thou seems to be indicated by Jesus himhe that should come ? A phrase self in this chapter, verse 11. Lananswerable to “ Art thou the Mes- guishing in confinement, his active siah?” – Or do we look for anoth- mind became impatient and perer? Are we to expect another? A plexed, he longed for the speedy esMessiah had been long foretold, and tablishment of the Messiah's reign, the Jews were in eager anticipation under which he would probably obof his coming. He was usually tain his liberty, and witness the spoken of, therefore, as He that great objects of his mission adshould come, the Great Coming vanced. He sends to Jesus, in his One. Various views have been tak- trouble and disappointment, to learn en, by different writers, of the mo- his movements and plans.
His tive which prompted John to send message was, “ Art thou the real this message to Jesus. Some hold Christ, or are we disappointed in that wished to identify Jesus, you, and must we still look for and ascertain whether he was the another to come?” A vein of imone whom he had baptized, and patience, therefore, and also of rewhom he knew to be the Messiah. buke, runs in the question. This Some, that he wished to satisfy his solution comports best with the own mind whether Jesus was the declarations of John, the circumMessiah. Some, that, being con- stances in which he was placed, his vinced himself, he wished to con- probable conceptions of the Mesfirm his doubting disciples, and at- siah, the ardor of his character, tach them to Jesus, if he himself and the language of the message, should be destroyed. Others, that the reply to it, and the subsequent having originally, when he had bap- remarks by Jesus on the office and tized Jesus, and seen and heard character of his Forerunner. the testimony from heaven, and de- 4. Go and show John again. clared him to be “the Lamb of Again should be omitted. This God which taketh away the sin of seems to indicate clearly that John the world,” been persuaded that asked this question and waited for Jesus was the actual Messiah, yet a reply for his own satisfaction, that his delaying to assume the out- rather than to strengthen the faith ward sovereignty supposed to be- of his disciples in Jesus. Those long to that office, and delaying things which ye do hear and see.
walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them ; and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
The messengers came at a favora- ceeded from him who dwelt in the ble hour; for we learn from the bosom of God, whose mercies are parallel passage in Luke vii. 21, free to all his creatures. He rose that Jesus was then in the very act above the narrowness of his age of healing the sick, and casting out and country, the ignorance of Galidemons. Hence, according to his lee, and the bigotry of Scribes and usual manner of teaching, he drew Pharisees, who despised the people, an answer from the events of the John vii. 48, 49, and taught with moment and the spot.
the inspiration and authority of the 5. See Is. xxxv. 5, 6, lxi. 1,2, impartial Father of all. In saying 3; Luke iv. 18, 19. The answer that the poor had the Gospel preachof Jesus was calm, prudent, and to ed unto them, he did not mean that the point. It arose spontaneously it was not also preached, and to be from the circumstances of the oc- preached, to the rich ; or that he casion. It foreclosed priestly rage, had any different Gospel for the or the equally embarrassing popular poor from that for the rich; but that enthusiasm, to which an explicit the glad tidings of heaven, the highdeclaration, in so many words, that est good, the happiest privileges of he was the Messiah, would have which human nature was capable, exposed him. It presented the sol- were to be brought by his Gospel id foundation of his claims, both to within the reach of the poorest as John and to after generations. He well as of the richest. He taught mentions two kinds of evidence, no exoteric or public doctrine to the that of miracles, and that of the poor and ignorant, and an esoteric or philanthropy of his religion. One
One secret doctrine to the learned, like includes the various specifications most of the ancient philosophers. of healing the sick and raising the It was a new era, when all men, dead ; the other, the fact that he without distinction of nation or conpreached the Gospel to the poor. dition, were called to all the highest He applied the same rule to him- blessings and hopes of the children self that he gave to test others. of God. None but a divinely comJudge the tree by its fruits. His missioned teacher could have conlife was his demonstration. His ceived or effected such a mighty deeds were his arguments. As revolution in human affairs. Let Nicodemus said, “No man can do the Gospel continue to be preached these miracles that thou doest, ex- to the poor, till no unhappy, suffercept God be with him.” Jesus of- ing soul, in the dark haunts of our ten appealed to his miraculous deeds cities, or in unknown heathen wastes, as proofs of the divinity of his mis. shall pine in ignorance of its blessed sion. And he must have best tidings. Missions, and ministries known on what grounds it rested. to the poor, are at once the fruits John v. 36, x. 25, 37, 38, xiv. 11, and the proofs of the divinity of the xv. 24. Again, his impartial love Gospel. and labors for the poor, as well as the 6. Blessed is he, fc. Mingled in rich ; for the slave, the beggar, the this beatitude is a slight tinge of reoutcast leper, as well as the power- proof, that John should be scandaful and refined, could only have pro- lized that he had not assumed the
7 And, as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes
concerning John : What went ye out into the wilderness to 8 see ? a reed shaken with the wind ? But what went ye out for
to see ? a man clothed in soft raiment ? Behold, they that wear 9 soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to
see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
went to see
temporal sovereignty supposed to shaken in the breeze? A strong belong to the Messiah. But the negative answer is implied, and, idea is conveyed in the most delicate agreeably to such an idiom, the next and inoffensive manner; even in a sentence begins with but. No ; you benediction. — Not be offended in me.
one steadfast and imFinds no cause of offence or stum- movable, a prophet of the most inbling in me, though I act contrary flexible temper. to his wishes and hopes. Blessed 8. But. A repetition of the quesis he who cavils not at my mode of tion in a new form. — A man clothed proceeding, or character, or doctrine, in soft raiment? A delicate, volupwho finds nothing in me to drive tuous person, a courtier, apparelled him away from truth and God; but in purple and fine linen? Such who, whatever violence may be done were not the garments of John, to his preconceived notions of the He was dressed in camel's hair, and Messiah's kingdom and worldly glo- a leathern girdle around his loins, ry, regards me with a docile, trust- but he was greater than courtier or ing, loving disposition. This answer king. They that wear soft clothing was adapted to awaken John to are in kings' houses. You must go, new patience, thought, and faith.” not to the wilderness and to John,
7. As the messengers of John but to the palaces of kings, to see were going away, Jesus generously those that are clothed in soft raipronounced a high eulogium on him, ment and live daintily, and who have and expressed his confidence in John a corresponding effeminacy and caas of firm integrity, and consistency, priciousness. Luke vii. 25. - Soft, and more than a prophet in his of- i. e. made of the finest materials. fice. Perhaps he wished to avert 9. But. Indicating again a negaany prejudice which might arise tive reply to the question of the last against John on account of the na
A prophet — and more than ture of his inquiries, and his own a prophet. The people crowded to reply to them, and to renew the peo- hear John as a religious teacher, reple's impressions of John's preach- former, and prophet. But he was ing and predictions. He appealed more than a common prophet; bedirectly to his hearers themselves. cause he was himself the subject of
- What went ye out into the wil. prophecy ; because he not only prederness to see? What was your dicted the coming of the Messiah, motive in flocking around John? like the other prophets, but prepared Wilderness means here an unculti- his way, and inaugurated him into vated and thinly peopled country. his office by baptism ; because he A reed shaken with the wind ? As was the connecting link of two dismuch as to say, Did you go to see pensations, the twilight, in which a vacillating, inconstant man, bend- Jewish darkness and Christian day ing this way and that, like a reed melted into each other. The sketch
For this is he of whom it is written : “Behold, I send my mes- 10 senger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of 11 women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist ; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until 12 now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied, 13 until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which 14 of John here given, though short, enjoy. How great are the priviis vivid and powerful, drawn by a leges and obligations of Christians, master's hand.
if they are more favorably situated 10. Is written. Malachi iji. 1. for divine knowledge and improveSimilar language is used by Isaiah, ment than John the Baptist ! xl. 3, and quoted Matt. iii. 3, see 12. Luke xvi. 16. The days of note thereon, also Mark i. 2 ; Luke John the Baptist, i. e. from the bei. 17, 76 ; John i. 23.- Prepare thy ginning of Jesus' ministry, the atway before thee. As pioneers pre- tention of the people had been ceded the march of eastern kings eagerly directed to the Messiah's and their armies, so did John the kingdom. The new religion “sufBaptist go before Jesus, to prepare fereth violence,” like a prize that the people for the coming of his is earnestly snatched at and seizkingdom of righteousness.
ed, or like a city that is assaulted. 11. Among them that are born of We learn elsewhere that immense
A circumlocution for men. crowds pressed around John as he - A greater than John the Baptist. preached and baptized, and around He was greater than any others, Jesus as he wrought miracles and greater even than the prophets, on instructed his disciples and the peoaccount of his office, and privileges, ple. Yet their warm interest was as the Forerunner and Witness of often a blind enthusiasm. In the Christ. He saw and heard what language of Norton on this verse, kings and priests and prophets had " Jesus referred to those many desired to see and hear, and desired Jews, who, possessed with false noin vain. - Least in the kingdom of tions of the character of the Mesheaven is greater than he. Not siah, as a deliverer from the tyrnecessarily greater in character, or anny of the Romans, and ready for virtue, but favored with greater deeds of violence, were eager to privileges. For the disciple of enlist as his followers, striving to Christ, or the subject of his king- force themselves upon him, without dom, although comparatively an ob any of the dispositions he required scure member of it, possessed, af- in his disciples. ter the resurrection and the descent 13. Prophesied, until John. The of the Spirit, more correct views of prophets were your instructers and the divine purposes towards man- masters until John. He has introkind, and of the honor, glory, and duced a new era, and the ancient immortality to which they were dispensation is to be superseded by called, than any Jew, though he a more full and affecting revelation were the herald of Christ, could of God's will.
15 was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation ? It is like unto
children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 and saying : We have piped unto you, and ye have not
danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lament
14. If ye will receive it. If you same subject in sorrowful reference can credit it. Implying that it would to the stubbornness of the Jews, be difficult for them to believe it. and their backwardness to believe This is Elias, which was for to come. on the messengers of God. How, The same name is written Elijah in he says, shall I describe this way. the Old Testament. The history ward race ?- It is like unto children. of this great prophet and reformer The Jews are compared, not to the is found in 1st and 2d Kings. It children who called, but to their was predicted that the Messiah companions who were called, and would be preceded by a herald to who were so difficult that they could prepare
way. Mal. iv. 5. See neither be pleased by the song of also Matt. xvii. 10 – 13. Hence an joy, nor the strains of mourning. – expectation had grown up among Markets. Places of public conthe Jews, that Elijah in his own course, and thoroughfares of busiperson would appear as the Fore- ness, where children as well as men runner. They seem also to have would resort. anticipated that Jeremiah or some 17. We have piped unto you. other of the old prophets would rise Here is a reference to the dramatic up to grace the Saviour's coming. sports of children, who play festiMatt. xvi. 14; John i. 21. It was vals and funerals. In eastern counpredicted in Luke i. 17, that John tries it was customary, on joyous would be endued with the spirit and occasions for the musician to strike power of Elijah. When John, up his tune, and the company to therefore, replied to the question dance to it ; and at funerals for the of the Jews, John i. 21, he proba- mourning song to be commenced, bly only replied to their literal un- and those present to follow the proderstanding of the prophecy, and cession, lamenting and beating their denied that he was the identical breasts. These things were acted Elijah. He did not deny that he by children in the streets; and part was an Elijah, in his spirit, power, of them refusing to follow their and office, a fearless, successful re- leader gave origin to our Saviour's former.
happy illustration. “I have found 15. Let him who hath the facul- a comparison for the inconsistency: ties of hearing and understanding and obstinacy of this generation. It see to it that he give candid atten- is like contrary children, who are tion. A formula of frequent use, satisfied neither with playing fesand of frequent need, as well now tival, nor playing funeral, who as then. The matter was worthy are sullenly determined not to be of their especial notice ; for if John pleased, notwithstanding all the efwas the predicted Elijah, as had forts of their playmates to find somejust been plainly declared, then Je- thing that might suit them.” The sus was the predicted Messiah. Jews were so wilful and fastidious,
16. Whereunto shall I liken this that they would be pleased, neither generation? Jesus continues the by the austerity of John the Bap