In Matthew 3, John the Baptist boldly proclaimed Jesus is God’s Anointed Servant, called the Christ or Messiah. Many Jews believed the Messiah would be a military leader who would overthrow the Roman occupation and re-establish a royal throne in Jerusalem.
Instead, Jesus is a homeless teacher. Worse still, John the Baptist finds himself imprisoned by the very powers many thought Jesus was going to usurp (Matthew 11:2).
So it’s not surprising that John sends some of his own followers to get an answer straight from Jesus. Is he really God’s chosen redeemer?
Jesus answers with a list of actions he has been performing. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers and cleansed, the deaf hear, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them (11:5).
This was not the politically charged answer, filled with vindication, the people were looking for.
Jesus then rebukes several Galilean towns that witnessed his miracles with their eyes but were not willing to believe he is the Lord who has come (Matthew 11:21). Jesus says their punishment will be worse than any judgment seen in the Old Testament (Matthew 11:22).
They did not believe because no one can know who Jesus truly is unless he chooses to reveal himself to them (Matthew 11:27). And in a prayer, Jesus thanks God that the truth is hidden from the wise and revealed to “little children” (Matthew 11:25)).
Why is this good news?
The question John’s disciples asked is a question we all ask today, “Is Jesus the savior we need?”
Jesus’ answer was from an Old Testament passages from the prophet Isaiah. These passages talk about God restoring Israel’s glory and bringing vengeance and recompense (Isaiah 35:4). That’s the salvation people were waiting for.
However, Jesus would not bring salvation through violence. The prophecies he’s quoting say that salvation will be far more like healing the sick than conquering the powerful (Isaiah 35:5).
We have sickness, disease, impurity, deafness, blindness, and poverty both physically and spiritually. After all, physical death and disease were the results of a spiritual rebellion (Genesis 2:17).
So Jesus comes and saves us from our worst enemy - sin and its consequence of death.
But what are we to make of Jesus’ thanking God for hiding his identity from the towns who will be destroyed?
We have to remember who they were hidden from - the wise and understanding. He did not come to save those who don’t think they need saving, but those who know the do. That is why he could say to those who believed in him, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
See for yourself.
I pray that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to see the God who reveals His Son to those who need him most. And Jesus as God’s chosen servant who offers us merciful rest.