1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
5 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.
6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
This event also appears in Luke 7:18-35.
John in prison (v.2) — also mentioned in Matthew 4:12; 14:3-12. This was probably the fortress of Machaerus, Herod’s royal house, on the Dead Sea.
he sent (v.2) — John was probably in need of reassurance, although it is also possible that he sent his disciples so they could witness the truth.
John had declared, according to Matthew 3:10, “The axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” He had also predicted that Christ would baptize with fire (v.11) and that He would “gather His wheat into the garner,” but would “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (v.12). John, languishing in prison, did not sense any divine deliverance from a wicked world. Instead of God triumphing, it seemed that Herod, in spite of his wickedness, was still in power.
Accordingly, John needed reassurance and clarification. In the background was the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies, which offered the puzzle of a suffering Messiah who would also be a glorious ruler (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12). While John should not be represented as questioning the validity of the revelation that came to him, that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who would save Israel from their sins, the question had been raised in his mind whether he should look for still another to bring the judgment of God upon a wicked world, and fulfill the predictions of the glorious reign of the Messiah. — Walvoord, pages 79-80.
John must have wondered if Jesus were the King of Israel why did He not set up His Kingdom and deliver His fore-runner from prison? He had no doubt as to His being a prophet, for only a prophet could answer the question of verse 3. The Divine answer referred him to Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1. These were the particular miracles, and this the particular preaching, which should accredit His Person. His claim was not that He worked miracles, but that He worked certain predicted miracles, and preached in a certain predicted manner. — Williams, page 707.
the Coming One (v.3) — the Messiah — Psalm 40:7; 118:26. The term was used by John in Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27.
blind see (v.5) — a reference to the prophecy in Isaiah 35:5-6
poor have the gospel preached to them (v.5) — Isaiah 61:1-2
This was a quotation from the great prophecy of Isaiah, and from that portion of it which He had already read in the synagogue as He entered upon this very work that was causing John perplexity (Isaiah 61:1-2). When Jesus read that in the synagogue at His induction, He did not read the whole statement, but stopped before the last clause, “the day of vengeance of our God,” ending with the words, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” — Morgan, page 112.
blessed (v.6) — those who weren’t offended that He wasn’t acting the way people expected the Messiah to act — in judgment
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