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11. Jesus and John the Baptist
1And it came to pass when Jesus had finished commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and preach in their cities. 2Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples 3and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them. 6And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me.
7And as these went their way, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind? 8But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft raiment are in king's houses. 9But wherefore went ye out? to see a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 10This is he, of whom it is written,
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
Who shall prepare thy way before thee.
11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, that is to come. 15He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 16But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the marketplaces, who call unto their fellows 17and say, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance; we wailed, and ye did not mourn. 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon. 19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! And wisdom is justified by her works.
20Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. 21Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? thou shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in thee, it would have remained until this day. 24But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
25At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: 26yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight. 27All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him. 28Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
29. Take my yoke upon you. Many persons, we perceive, abuse the grace of Christ by turning it into an indulgence of the flesh; and therefore Christ, after promising joyful rest to wretchedly distressed consciences, reminds them, at the same time, that he is their Deliverer on condition of their submitting to his yoke. He does not, he tells us, absolve men from their sins in such a manner, that, restored to the favor of God, they may sin with greater freedom, but that, raised up by his grace, they may also take his yoke upon them, and that, being free in spirit, they may restrain the licentiousness of their flesh. And hence we obtain a definition of that rest of which he had spoken. It is not at all intended to exempt the disciples of Christ from the warfare of the flesh, that they may enjoy themselves at their ease, but to train them under the burden of discipline, and keep them under the yoke.
Learn of me It is a mistake, I think, to suppose that Christ here assures us of his meekness, lest his disciples, under the influence of that fear which is usually experienced in approaching persons of distinction, should remain at a distance from him on account of his Divine glory. It is rather his design to form us to the imitation of himself, because the obstinacy of the flesh leads us to shrink from his yoke as harsh and uneasy. Shortly afterwards, he adds, (verse 30,) my yoke is easy But how shall any man be brought willingly and gently to bend his neck, unless, by putting on meekness, he be conformed to Christ? That this is the meaning of the words is plain; for Christ, after exhorting his disciples to bear his yoke, and desirous to prevent them from being deterred by its difficulty, immediately adds, Learn of me; thus declaring that, when his example shall have accustomed us to meekness and humility, we shall no longer feel his yoke to be troublesome. To the same purpose he adds, I will relieve you So long as the flesh kicks, we rebel; and those who refuse the yoke of Christ, and endeavor to appease God in any other manner, distress and waste themselves in vain. In this manner, we see the Papists wretchedly torturing themselves, and silently enduring the dreadful tyranny under which they groan, that they may not bow to the yoke of Christ.