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Matthew 11:1-30


“And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.  Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples.  And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the 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 the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.  And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to 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 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.  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of 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 now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias [Elijah], which was to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  But whereunto shall I liken this generation?  It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.  The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.  But wisdom is justified of her children.  Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Corazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had ben done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell [Strong’s #86, Hades, the grave]: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  [Now that’s an interesting statement.  Does Jesus hate “gays”?  No he’s saying had this city full of homosexuals, Sodom, been able to witness all his miracles, they would have responded favorably to the gospel message, whereas the fine and upstanding ‘straight’ citizens of Capernaum saw all that Jesus did, his mighty works, and yet did not respond favorably.  There’s quite a message in that short verse.] But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.  At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for it seemed good in thy sight.  All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.  Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


“‘Father, we bow our hearts before you, and what a privilege it is Lord, to gather, to sing your praises, to study your Word, Lord, that we can open the pages of this life-giving book, Father, this living Word that you’ve preserved and handed to us, Lord.  We think of those around the world that have died just for the privilege to look into its pages or to copy it, Lord.  Those who would walk for miles to have one page of the Bible.  And Father, we take so much for granted, but let all the power and the beauty of it be effective in our lives this evening.  Lord, we look for the supernatural aspect of all of this.  We pray Lord you’d move among us as we continue, Lord, that those who need physical healing would receive your touch, Lord, that those who need encouragement would find their hearts, Lord, lifted up, that those who need direction would find you this evening, confirming and speaking and leading.  And Father, those that are filled with thanksgiving and rejoicing, that they would bless you, Lord, and that you would be blessed as we’re here.  So Lord we put all of these things before you, and Lord we ask now that you’d give to each of us as your individual children, our portion, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’


Who was John the Baptist?


Matthew chapter 11 begins by saying, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his disciples, he departed thence from there to teach and preach in their cities.”  Now he had commanded them to go in two’s to preach the kingdom, he had given them specific instructions, told them to raise the dead, heal the sick, to cleanse lepers, to preach the Good News, and he had given them exousia, given them the royal authority to do those things, even Judas, and had sent them out as forerunners.  And he would follow, coming behind them.   Because Jesus is burdened over the multitudes, they’re like sheep without a shepherd, and he sees them as scattered. [Now it must not be forgotten, as often is the case when we read over Scriptures like this, that Jesus and his disciples were laying a foundation for the presentation of the Gospel for the reaping of multiple tens of thousands into the early Churches of God in Judea and the HQ church in Jerusalem.  See Their efforts weren’t a waste of time.  A great initial harvest was made in Judea and Jerusalem.  Gentile Christians often do not realize this.]   And Jesus understanding the timeline, certainly better than anyone else here in this picture now had sent his disciples, now he’s going to go forth.  And he takes this time to talk now in a circumstance where some of John the Baptists’ disciples come.  John the Baptist had been apprehended by Herod Antipas, and he was in the fortress called Machaerus, across down by the northern end of the Dead Sea, there was a palace and prison there.  And John the Baptist had been imprisoned now for about ten months.  [see and]  And John was not a white-collar worker.  John was a wild-man, he was a Hippie, loved the wilderness, he had spent however many years alone there in the Lord’s presence, he was filled the Spirit it says, from the womb [just as Jesus was, no difference in that particular fact].  He had gotten ahold of God’s direction for his life, knew the message that God gave him to preach, understood that he was to prepare the way for the One who would come, and that he would recognize that One when he saw the Spirit descending and abiding upon him, that he was the one who would be baptized with the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit] and the fire, the Messiah.  He had spent those long hours in the desert.  Interesting, the Hebrew word for desert means “to speak”, and certainly it’s in those lonely places it’s so often the place that we get to hear the Lord’s voice.  We’re busy with life, we’re busy with our routines, and God is gracious and can break through all of that.  But there are those wonderful times in all of our lives, I wish they’d happen more often, where we get to be in some solitary situation, alone, listening.  And John had spent years like that.  And now he’s taken and he’s thrown into this dungeon, and he’s been there about ten months at this point in time. And that’s unsettling for anybody who was an outdoorsman, anybody who loves to be out under the open sky, to be chained and bound in some dungeon.  He’s used to eating locust and wild honey, and I’m sure his diet changed there in prison.  And he is having some second thoughts, some doubts about Christ [Messiah].  He had pointed the finger finally and said “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  His message had changed, initially it was “Even now the ax is laid to the root, and One is coming, his winnowing fork is in his hand, he’s going gather his grain into the granary, and he’s going to burn up the chaff with an unquenchable fire”, I mean, he had that message.  And then as he saw Christ, and Christ was baptized by him, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and something else happened in his heart when Christ was fasting for forty days in the wilderness, and when Christ returned, John, he pointed his finger and we don’t know if he had read Isaiah 53, if he had gone through the Old Testament, he had looked again, but he said “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  And now though, he’s in prison.  When he was thrown in prison it says “Jesus departed from Judea, the area where Machaerus was, the fortress, and he went into Galilee.  So John is hearing while these things are happening, but he’s getting impatient. 


Why we can get discouraged


There are two reasons sometimes we get discouraged or disheartened with the Lord.  Sometimes, because we think the Lord is doing something he shouldn’t do, it’s inconsistent with his love and our perception of him, but many times we get discouraged because we feel the Lord is not doing something that we think he should do.  And if there was only a suggestion box in heaven, and we were allowed to write our suggestions, and give them, and certainly if the Lord understood how we’re thinking ahead of him, he would cooperate.  And John is struggling because of unrealized expectations.  He had expected something of the Lord, and the Lord was not doing that.  And he was stumbling, and he was grinding, like so many great men had.  And I think as we look at this this evening, we must remember, look, we don’t know what the Lord’s going to do in our lifetime.  We believe Jesus is coming, I believe that, and I hope you believe that.  And I believe Jesus is coming soon.  [Within the overall parameters of prophecy given in Daniel and Revelation it will probably be within this generation (the average generation length being 30 years).  Look at these prophecies at: .]  I believe there are things going on all around us in the world tonight that tells us that we should live ready, for the return of Christ, because he could come at any moment.  [Now that was spoken in the understanding of their belief in the Rapture.  Taken from a straight Historic Pre-millennial view, certain prophetic events must occur before the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, as seen in the linked articles above.  But we are getting real close to the start of those prophetic events.]  I believe that no matter what your theological position is, you have to admit that we’re closer to the coming of Christ than any generation of the Church has ever lived.  Jesus is coming.  So there’s this kind of aura of expectancy.  You talk to believers in other countries around the world that are newly saved, and they have that sense that Jesus is coming.  And I believe he wants us to live with that sense.  Now that means there’s going to be a transition, there’s going to be a change.  And John the Baptist was stepping on the scene at that time, there was expectation, there was about to be a major paradigm shift in God’s plan.  And he was sent forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the hearts of the children and turn them to the fathers.  The idea is to turn the nation of Israel to the words of the prophets, turn them back.  And it says in Luke as he describes this to us, he says, “He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  So certainly some of that is enjoined upon us, if we’re the last generation of the Church before Christ comes, to turn the disobedient to the way of the just, to help prepare a people for the way of the Lord, the unsaved that are around us in this city.  This is the most populous area on earth [Philadelphia, a large city], right here.  This three hundred mile diameter area that takes in New York City and Baltimore and Philadelphia and Newark and Atlantic City and all of the buros and all of the cities inbetween, there’s more fish in this pond per capita than anywhere on earth, and God has placed us here.  And certainly part of what God would have for us is in our service for him, is to see many come to a saving knowledge of Christ.  And I know, if you’re like me, we want to do that, we want to feel like, ‘Lord, we’ve served you, we’ve led somebody to Christ’, that something good has happened.  You know, our higher calling is certainly to be his sons and daughters, but we also want to serve him and have that sense. 


Unrealized expectations


So as we look at John the Baptist, certainly there are certain things that we can learn from him.  And I think one of them is in the area of discouragement.  He’s discouraged at this point in time.  But Moses was discouraged.  In Numbers chapter 11 he said ‘God if this is the way it’s going to be, then take my life, I don’t want to live, I don’t want to go onward.’  In 1st Kings chapter 19, verse 4, when Elijah, who had just called down fire on Mount Carmel, and just saw a tremendous miraculous work, and now he hears Jezebel’s after him, and he’s running, and he’s discouraged, and he lays down under the juniper tree, and he says, ‘Lord, kill me.  I don’t want to live.’   And the Lord sends the angels there to bake some angel-food cake for him [laughter].  ‘I don’t want to live.’  Paul and Silas said they were pressed out of measure in Asia [Asia Minor], and they despaired of life itself.  They didn’t say they wanted to commit suicide, that’s vastly different.  But they said they despaired of life, they said ‘It’s too hard, it’s just too much, we’re overwhelmed.’  And John the Baptist is much in that position right here, and it isn’t wrong for us who want to serve Christ, to deal with discouragement.  It isn’t wrong.  It’s not wrong for us to be depressed.  It’s not wrong.  It’s not unspiritual.  Sometimes we’re in that place where God is dealing with us in a miraculous way.  As we read through Hebrews chapter 11, the Hall of Faith there, we hear God and the accolades he gives to all of these Old Testament saints, that when we read their stories in the Old Testament, we see their failings.  We see their discouragement.  And yet God, somehow, as he describes them to us standing before him in faith, he describes to us the wonderful things they did, he describes their faith to us, and what he saw.  And I think sometimes if we get inner-spective, we sin, because then we get discouraged, we get in the paralysis of analysis, and we see all this stuff that’s wrong with us.  That’s true in a sense.  But Christ has said we’re justified, sanctified, and glorified, and that we’re able ministers of the New Testament.  The other side, is if we don’t think soberly about ourselves, we can be puffed up with pride, and we have things out of focus and that’s wrong too.  But there are some things to learn from John the Baptist.  Jesus has sent out his disciples, he’s given command to them, and it says in verse 2, “Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said unto him, ‘Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?’  And Jesus answered and said unto them,…the disciples…‘Go and show again…See he’s just like us…Go and tell John againThank you Lord, I’m glad you’re always willing to tell me again…and again and again, I appreciate it.  ‘Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see.’  They were witness to Jesus working right there when they came to ask the question.  ‘The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them.’”  These are the signs given to us in Isaiah 35:1-10; and Isaiah 61, that said ‘When Messiah came, these are the things that would mark his ministry.’  ‘You go and tell John these things are taking place, and, he finishes, ‘and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me’” (verses 2-6).  Now see, that’s the problem, John was stumbling, he was discouraged, he was wondering “Are you the one that should come, or do we look for another?”  ‘I thought you were setting up your Kingdom, you know, there was the demonstration of power, it was necessary for me to decrease so you would increase, you’re the Bridegroom, I’m just the friend of the Bridegroom, I’m the Best man.  I was excited looking forward to this, I’ve been stewing now in this dungeon for ten months.  And now I have doubts.  And now I have discouragement.  Are you the one that should come, or do we look for another?  Is there someone else?  Because there are so many things in the Old Testament about what you would do in power.  Is there someone else?’  And Jesus said ‘You go, tell him what you’re seeing, all of the signs are there, tell him again.  He knows this.’  “And blessed is he whosoever is not offended”   Now unrealized expectations, we have those so often.  We expect the Lord to do something, we expect he’s going to bless, we expect our husband or our wife, our relatives are going to get saved, we expect this is going to…I don’t know about you guys, I expect great things.  I’m an optimist.  People ask me ‘How you doing?’ and I say ‘Better than I deserve.’  I live by that.  I say it to unsaved people, they say ‘What!?’  I say ‘Well I’m not going to hell, Jesus saved me, and everything this side of that is gravy, so I’m doing better than I deserve.’  I’m an optimist, I’m hoping that we see an outpouring of God’s Spirit and a revival in the days that we live in.  I’m living with expectation, I’m thinking ‘Lord, what might you do?’  And John now has been in the dungeon, John now has something come into his life that has set his heart back, and he’s wondering ‘Lord, I thought you were someone else.  I didn’t expect this to happen to me.  Why is this going on?’  And imagine the guys coming back to him, they said, ‘Well, you know, we went to him, we saw him, we talked to him, he said the dead were being raised, and lepers were being cleansed, the lame were walking and the Good News is being preached, and he said ‘Blessed is he whosoever is not offended.’  And then John’s got to sit in the dungeon and think about that, until he gets his head chopped off.  ‘Oh, was I offended, I don’t want to be offended, what does he mean?  Was that just for me, am I the only offended one’, now you know, you can just imagine what he did with that. 


After John’s disciples leave, Jesus reveals what he really thinks of John the Baptist


Now the interesting thing to me is this, when they leave, it says, “As they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, ‘What went you out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken with the wind?  But what went you forth to see?...’   Now the idea is, ‘No, that’s not what you went to see, a reed shaken in the wind.  ‘…a man clothed in soft and fancy clothes?  Behold, they that wear soft clothing they’re in kings houses, not in king’s dungeons.  What went you out to see, a prophet?  Yea, and I say unto you, more than a prophet.’”  ‘You were filled with expectation, you went out to see a prophet, but more than a prophet.  You didn’t go to see a reed shaken in the wind, that’s not what John the Baptist was, he wasn’t someone who was trying to be politically correct and trying to be non-offensive and say ‘Oh, yah Herod, yah, as long as you marry her, that’s ok…’  No he said ‘You adulterer!  You’re married to somebody else’s wife!’  Wait a minute, you don’t say that to a politician.  He wasn’t a reed shaken with the wind, he wasn’t somebody dressed up in fancy clothes.  Now God doesn’t have anything against fancy clothes, that’s not the point.  Of course he doesn’t have anything against wearing jeans in church either, and I’m glad of that.  [ie, clothing should never be a barrier to attending church, in a service worshipping the true God of heaven and earth.  This is a distinctive of Calvary Chapels, and reflects also how they started out.  See]  But he said ‘That’s not what John was about, he wasn’t trying to be a celebrity, the politicians, the earthly people do that.  It’s interesting, I heard Allen Redpathe say “If we’re too given to the material, it takes the tang out of our testimony.”  “If we’re too absorbed with the material things of this world, it takes the tang out of our testimony”, I like that.  I think our testimony should be a little tangy, don’t you?  People should taste a little bit when we’re gone, and if they’re not saved, it should be a little sour, should have a little tang to it.  He wasn’t a reed shaken with the wind.  So look, there are certain things we can learn from John the Baptist then.  We’re here, there’s going to be a paradigm shift, he was preparing people for the 1st coming of the Lord, we’re here, and it’s our job to prepare our neighbors and our friends and our children and our community for the 2nd coming of the Lord.  [Comment:  The ‘Jewish gospel’ being preached from the period of the Maccabees onward to the 1st coming of Jesus, preached and taught in all the synagogues, caused a good number of Gentiles to actually start attending the local synagogues throughout the Diaspora [Iraq, Syria and Asia Minor] as believers in the one true God of Israel.  This ‘Jewish gospel’, was none other than the Old Testament prophecies which spoke of the glorious coming of the Messiah to conquer the Gentile oppressors in a World War, waged by heavens armies and the Messiah against those who were oppressing Israel.  This included such prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and all the minor prophets about the Messiah then setting up his Millennial Kingdom which would then rule over the whole earth, with the Messiah as King of the world, ruling from Jerusalem (cf. Zechariah 14:9).  Now maybe Christianity as a whole should consider incorporating a bit of that ‘gospel of the coming kingdom’ into their gospel of salvation message, as a witness to this dying world.  It is a part of the simple Gospel of Salvation that he’s coming again.  ie, 1. He died for our sins, 2. He was buried, 3. He rose from the dead on the 3rd day, 4. He ascended to heaven, 5. He’s coming again.  So in a sense the ‘Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God’ is not the Gospel of Salvation, and in a sense it is, it’s included in it as a one-liner statement. But that one-liner statement includes a whole ream of prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments. To view this Old Testament gospel about the coming Kingdom of Jesus, log onto  The file on Isaiah shows how many prophecies God gave Isaiah about this coming Kingdom.  The other article gives more of a compilation of all the Old and New Testament passages on this subject.]  And for us to be effective, I’m assuming certain things still hold true.  We can’t be like a reed, shaken in the wind.  Because when Jesus comes, right is going to be right, and wrong is going to be wrong, because he never changes.  Sin is going to be sin, heaven is going to be heaven, and hell is going to be hell.  [I will add at this point, when he returns, all our differing doctrinal interpretations will be scrapped and a true knowledge will be taught even to us by Jesus himself about what heaven and hell truly is.  Right now the whole body of Christ has an imperfect understanding on these subjects.]  He’s the Lord of lords, he’s the King of kings, and the Word of God, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  So if we’re going to represent him properly, the One that’s coming, one thing is, we shouldn’t be like a reed bent and shaken in the wind.  We should be able to stand for what we believe in, and not be ashamed of it.  And John the Baptist did that.  [He’s alluding to the point that in this end-time, Christianity should be a type of John the Baptist work on earth, a type of Elijah, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, healing families, and proclaiming the 2nd coming of the Lord in power and strength, not in any way being wishy-washy about our proclamation, not being apologetic about our beliefs to anyone, anybody.]  We shouldn’t be someone whose out there trying to be a celebrity or just taken up with celebrities, that wasn’t John the Baptist. 


Not in his own energy


And look, he didn’t do these things in his own energy.  He did these things in the power of the Spirit.  So, we can’t do them in our own energy.  But of course, the other side of the coin is, he wasn’t any more than we are, in a sense.  It tells us in the beginning of John’s Gospel, it says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”  He was a man, just like you and I, a hu-man, just like you and I, he was a man, filled with the Spirit, not shaken by the wind, not given to the popular cults of this world.  But he came speaking the truth.  ‘What went you out to see, a prophet?’  Jesus says, ‘Yah, he was more than a prophet, in the sense that he was the prophet that the prophets spoke of.  He was a prophet that was prophecied of.  Jesus is going to say, “Among those born of women, none has arisen greater than John”, because John was the one who finally pointed the finger and said “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  The clarity of his message made him a prophet that was greater than Moses, greater than Elijah, greater than Jeremiah, greater than Ezekiel, greater than all of them, because he could actually point his finger at the One, and say ‘That’s the One!’ that they all wanted to see, that they all wanted to look at, that they [the prophets] all bore testimony of.  And with greater clarity he said ‘That’s the One, Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.’  But now John’s saying “Are you the one that should come?”  “You went out to see a prophet, yea, more than a prophet.”   Now isn’t it interesting.  John the Baptist’s back in prison, he’s hearing ‘He’s opening the eyes of the blind, he’s doing all this stuff, the lepers are being cleansed, and blessed is he whose not offended in him’, so he’d better not be offended’, and he’s like ‘Oh man, I can’t believe I was offended.’  Mean time, after the guys [John’s disciples] leave, then Jesus tells everybody how great John is.  I think John would have done better if the guys came back and say ‘Yea!  You should have heard him talk about you.  He said you’re not like a reed shaken in the wind, he said you’re not out there dressed in fancy clothes, he said you’re the prophet the prophets spoke of, you’re more than a prophet, he said you’re the greatest ever born among women!’  That would probably have done him more good, don’t you think?  Well obviously Jesus didn’t think so.  He must think it does you and I more good to hear “Blessed is he whosoever is not offended in me” than for you and I to think ‘Hey, I’m really something!  I’m hot stuff!  I’m at the top of the food-chain.’  Because he knows that we’ll get puffed up with pride, that we’ll get lazy, that we’ll get self-assured, self-dependent.  Isn’t it interesting, after they leave, he lauds John, and he tells heaven’s perspective of John and the truth.  In his humanity he’s [John’s] challenged.  And the Lord is gracious to do the same with us.  But he’s the God who calls things that are not as though they were, he’s the one who is and was and is to come, and he sees us as finished.  And I wonder about the wonderful things that he might say about us as his sons and daughters.  Yes, he was more than a prophet, that’s what Jesus says.  And here’s why, verses 10-11, “‘For this is he of whom it is written…What makes him more than a prophet is he’s the prophet that Malachi spoke of.  “Behold, consider this, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before Me.” [Malachi 3:1]  “And virily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; not withstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.”  Now look, something interesting here.  “Behold I send my messenger before thy face”, certain things we want to see here.  John the Baptist was a priest.  His father was Zacharias, he was of the line of Aaron, very much like Ezekiel was a priest.  Jeremiah we’re told was the son of a priest, of the line of Aaron.  Zechariah [in the time of Haggai, Nehemiah and Ezra], a priest.  Now what’s easier to be, a priest, or a messenger [prophet]?  It’s easier to be a priest.  You get up in the morning, and all your directions are written out, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, everything’s there.  You know what sacrifices to offer on what day, you know what time to show up and burn incense, you know how to take care of the show-bread, I mean, you have a routine.  It isn’t bad, they blessed the people.  They functioned in their routine and they did what they were supposed to do.  But he was more than that, because he wasn’t functioning as a priest.  Oh he was a priest, by blood.  But you see, a priest gets up every day, and his responsibilities are written out.   A messenger gets up every day, and sits around and waits till he gets his marching orders.  The Scripture says “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face.”  And do we want to have a prophetic ministry, or a priestly ministry?  Do we want to have a ministry that’s routine?---and that’s a blessing---or do we really want to impact people?  Because if we really want impact people, we find that somewhere else.  It says “Behold, I send my messenger” here’s the key, “before Thy” capital T “face.”  And you see, God’s never gonna use us to prepare the way before him, if we are not before him.  It’s such a reproof to me.  How much time do I spend.  God’s not looking today for organizers, he’s looking for agonizers, he’s looking for those who will sit in his presence.  There’s all kinds of stuff in the church today, ‘Oh you plan it this way, you do it that way,’ and there’s outlines and there’s demographics and there’s C1, C2, C3’s, C4’s and this is how you plan this, and this is how you get the most people here, and get the most amount of people here.’  And the problem is, the church that’s built well in the flesh, will draw more than a church that’s built poorly in the flesh.  But some of the old divines have said, What’s worse than failing without Christ, is succeeding without Christ.”  It’s far more dangerous.  Do we want to have a priestly ministry, or a prophetic ministry.  Do we want to find our ministry to our friends and people we love, before his face?  How much time do I spend before his face?  How much time do we spend before his face?  Because if you have all of the plans of mice and men…Look, John impacted the entire region [and also way up into Asia Minor, as well as all of Samaria his disciples were to be found, even after the founding of the Church, as the Book of Acts attests to].  He was not relative to the culture.  He wasn’t worried about gen-X, he wasn’t worried about the kind of music they liked, he wasn’t worried about this or that.  He came like a wild-man, he had grasshopper legs and honey stuck in his beard, and he came and he spoke the truth, and people went out to see him because the Spirit of God was moving and it was fresh and it was alive, and it was real.  And that’s what people are looking for, that’s what they’re looking for out there.  If you don’t believe what the pastor in your church is telling you, then why would your friends and relatives believe you?  They’re looking into your eyes, to see the look in your eyes and hear the tone of your voice when you tell them that Jesus loves them.  They want to know that it’s real in your life.  Why should they believe you, if you haven’t been before his face?---How will you prepare his way before his face, if you haven’t been there and I haven’t been there?  I look at this and I think, ‘What a great challenge’.  I don’t want to just, you know, they have Stars minister’s books, and they have all this stuff, you can go to schools, you can get all this stuff to help you be a professional pastor.  I do not want to be a professional pastor, by the way, you can tell by the way I dress [laughter], but I don’t want to be a professional pastor.  [Comment:  Just for your information, in case you may doubt the effectiveness of what Pastor Joe is talking about, and how effective his ministry has been, having not been one of those “professional” pastors, but a pastor who is always seeking the face of God---his congregation topped out at 30,000 members---it’s a genuine mega-church.  Now I’m sure, since then, he discipled many other pastors in the Philadelphia area, to sensibly divide up this huge number for the purpose of better serving such a large group of believers, as there are many Calvary Chapels now in the greater Philadelphia area.  I wrote an article describing what I thought the perfect church would be like, based on my eye-witness knowledge of seeing one of these congregations grow from a tiny Bible study of 12 to over 400, in an area where churches just don’t grow anymore (New England).  See  It is not intended as a how-to in the sense that this will build a church no matter what, even without Christ. That’s not what you want.  You want Holy Spirit inspired, indwelt members, or you don’t want any members at all, that is the bottom line.  How do you do that?  Prayer: see  I have proposed the start-up of Internet Churches of God for ex-members of the Worldwide Church of God ( ), but in no way do I ever, ever want to see these start up, without Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit inspiring, leading, guiding and bringing to pass their successful start-up, just don’t want to see it happen without Christ in it. ]  I want to be able to say, ‘That which I have received of the Lord I delivered unto you’, like Paul.  And you want that, and you want that for your kids, and you want that for the people you love and your family and where you work and your friends.  Who wants to be phony?  Because we can go to church, we can play Christian games, we can do all of that.  And I look at this, and I think, man, here’s somebody, and Jesus took the time to challenge him.  Jesus didn’t set him up so he would fall into pride or false humility.  Jesus challenged him [John].  But then Jesus said ‘Look at this guy, he’s not shaken by the wind, he’s standing up to the tide of the culture that’s surrounds him, and he has the truth in his mouth.  And he isn’t just a priest, he’s a messenger, he has the Living Word, and he’s empowered by the Spirit.  “And of all of those whoever have been born of women, none has arisen greater than John.  But I tell you the truth, he who is least in the kingdom is greater than John.”  John’s Gospel says this, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.”  He who is least in the kingdom is greater than John.  John is the greatest born among women.  We’re born of women in our natural birth, but Jesus said you need to be born again to see the kingdom.  He who is least in the kingdom is greater than John, in this sense, positionally, you and I stand closer than John did in his earthly ministry.  [Now I think as far a heavenly rewards, John will stand head and shoulders above any of us, just as the holy Prophets and Moses will, it’s not stating that he will be less than us when he and we enter the Kingdom of God in the resurrection to immortality.  Not at all.]  You and I understand the cross, we understand.  We wouldn’t say “Are you the one that was to come, or shall we look for another?”  We understand that he was headed to Jerusalem, to the cross, to the tomb, to the resurrection, to the ascension, and that he’s returning.  We have greater life than John did.  The world is just as dark.  And Satan would love to have us bumble around for the rest of our lives saying ‘Oou’.  Now wait a minute, eternity is in our hearts [by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit].  “As many as believe, to them he hath given eternal life.”  We already possess it [and so does John, he awaits the same resurrection to immortality].  We have the Truth, we have the Light that would change our family and our community and the world around us.   And I wonder, in my own life, it’s just a great challenge to me.  Yeah, I can get depressed, I can get discouraged.  But you know what?  I’m in good company.  But I also have access to greater things, in a sense, than he did.  I can actually get alone and say “Abba, Father”, I can ask for a fresh filling of his Spirit.  I can look at a community, and say “Lord, give this to us, give us the souls here.  Give us this Delaware valley, give it to us Lord.  Let us take the testimony of your love.” 


“The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”


“Verily, I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.  And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (verses 11-13).  Now you want to know what that verse means?  So do I.  [chuckles]  There’s two views.  There’s probably more, but…There’s one view that says ‘The kingdom of God was being extended, was being pushed into the open, Jesus, the disciples, John the Baptist, but the violent were taking it by force, Herod Agrippa had thrown John into prison…there was persecution rising against Christ, and some see it that way.  That can be true.  There are those who say that it means those who are really pressing can take hold of the kingdom, kind of more in a Pentecostal sense, you know, that we can just huff and puff, and blow the house down, we can just reach in there and take hold of the kingdom.  Now look, I understand what they’re saying, and I think we should do our best to enter into the things of the kingdom.  There are those who say that it meant that the kingdom was going forth forcefully, that the sense can be there in the grammar that it was being extended by Christ, by the disciples, miracles were taking place, by John the Baptist, and those that were willing to deal with that, themselves by force, they were taking hold of it.  You know what?  Both of those are true.  So whichever way you interpret it, it’s fine with me.  They’re both true.  It was suffering violence at the hands of its antagonists.  But there were those who were pressing into it and taking hold of the truths that were being presented.  “Now since John”, it says, that’s something that was happening in their culture, in the earthly ministry of Christ right then.  It’s difficult to take that out of context and try to make it something that is happening today. 


“This generation”--- what was wrong with it?


“For all of the prophets and the law prophesied until John,” so John is the last of the Old Testament prophets, “and if you will receive it, this is Elias or Elijah which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (verses 13-14). What does he mean this was Elijah?  Well, he , John, went forth in the spirit and the power of Elijah.  Gabriel said that to his father, Zacharias, when he was ministering in the Temple, that this son would be born, he would be filled with the Spirit from his youth, and he would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah.  And if Israel would have turned and listened to his testimony, and if Israel would have received Jesus as the Messiah, as Yeshua haMeshiach, it would have no doubt gone directly from the 69th Week directly into the 70th Week [in Daniel 9] and the Kingdom would have come, it would have come.  But it didn’t.  And aren’t we glad.  That’s how we got in, wild olive branches grafted in [cf. Romans 11].  We should pray for Israel, for Jerusalem.  But we’ve been included in God’s family.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”   Jesus says that fifteen times.  He says it seven times in the Gospels.  He says it eight times in the Book of Revelation, he says it once to each of the seven churches in the letters to the seven churches.  So we know that he’s not just talking to churches, because churches don’t have ears, if you go out into the parking lot you won’t see any big ears on the outside of the building.  He’s talking to individuals.  And he says it in Revelation 13 too, in regards to the antichrist, that there’s something to take note of there.  But Jesus says this, and no one else says it in the Bible.  Jesus says it fifteen times, “he who has ears to hear.”  If that is the purpose of your ears, if they’re not just to hold your glasses on, or not just to hang earrings on.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, and Revelation says, “what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  So interesting section with an interesting exhortation for us.  “But” he says “whereunto shall I liken this generation?” because they don’t have ears to hear.  “It is like unto children sitting in the markets calling to their fellows, saying, ‘We have piped unto you, and you have not danced, we have mourned unto you, you have not lamented.  We have played wedding and you didn’t want to play wedding, so we played funeral and you didn’t want to play funeral.’”  You don’t want to laugh, you don’t want to cry.  That’s Jesus saying I’m likening this generation, they don’t want to mourn, and they don’t want to rejoice, they don’t want either.  And this is how he says it, “For John came” this would be the mourning, “neither eating nor drinking, and they say ‘He has a devil’” he’s demon possessed.  “The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and they say ‘Behold a man gluttonous, a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.’  But wisdom is justified of her children.’” (verses 16-19)  Jesus said John the Baptist came aesthetic, he came solitary, he came serious, he lived a life that was remarkable, locust and wild honey, living in the wilderness, coming in the power of the Spirit, and you say he’s demon-possessed.  You don’t want to mourn, but you don’t want to pipe and dance either, because the Son of man has come, Immanuel, God with us, to be with sinners, to eat, and to fellowship, and to talk and to share the love of God and the Kingdom, and you don’t want that either, because you say he’s a drunk.   But the Son of man is no more a drunk than John the Baptist is demon-possessed.’  He says ‘You want your cake and eat it too.’ He said ‘God has approached you through John the Baptist in a very remarkable way, you don’t want to receive that.  And then God himself has come, and is seated in your midst, eating, breaking bread with you, looking into your face, talking to you about his love, and this generation doesn’t want anything to do with that either. 


Jesus openly rebukes the communities he’s witnessed to, done miracles in


“And then he turned and he began to upbraid and rebuke the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.  ‘Woe unto thee Corazin!  Woe unto thee Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say unto you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.’”  Now it’s interesting, he’s gonna curse here Capernaum, Corazin, Bethsaida, all of the cities that Jesus cursed are in ruins today.  The one city he didn’t curse, is Tiberias, which is still alive and thriving on the Sea of Galilee.  Corazin they just discovered a few years ago, in ruins.  Woe unto you, he’s saying you’re accountable for the amount of light you have [or the amount of light or understanding you’ve been given, how are you using it?  Just sitting on your butts doing nothing with it?  Watch out!].  You know, tremendous light came to you, as was prophecied in the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, shining unto the Gentiles all the way up to the Galilee of the Gentiles, a light shining in a dark place, Christ had come.  And he said that if the things you saw were seen by Tyre and Sidon, they’d have repented.  “And thou Capernaum”, that was Jesus’ headquarters there in Galilee “which are exalted unto heaven”,  Yahweh was walking in their midst, talking of his love, healing, preaching the Good News [most do not realize that Yahweh was the pre-incarnate Christ.  Yeshua, his Hebrew name is a contraction of Yahweh-shua, meaning Yahweh-saves] “And thou Capernaum, exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell [Strongs #86, Hades: the grave], for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”  If they had experienced the light that you’ve experienced, they’d have repented.  [Comment:  This is quite an interesting statement of Jesus.  He’s saying that homosexual Sodom, a city overtaken with homosexuality, he’s saying had the light of his miracles shone into that city of Sodom, they would have repented.  But it had been shone into this fine upstanding city of straight people, Capernaum, and they rejected what they saw.  Hmmm. Jesus said it, not me.]  “But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you”, when they stand before God in the Great White Throne Judgment, they’ll be more accountable for the light that came to them.  “And at that time, Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.’” In fact, in Luke’s Gospel it tells us that “he rejoiced”, and it’s the only time that we hear he rejoiced.  He looked around and he said ‘Father, Lord of heaven and earth,  I thank you because you have hid these things from the wise and the prudent, the religious leaders, the merchants of Capernaum, and those surrounding areas, and you have revealed them  to babes, those disciples, those people that were around him that were hanging on his words and looking into his face, and the common people heard him gladly.  “Even so Father, for it seemeth good in they sight.  All things are delivered unto me of my Father.  No man knoweth the Son but the Father…”  Now certainly we have more light than John the Baptist or his disciples “…Nor does anyone know the Father but the Son, and the one to whom the SoneHe” wills to reveal him” (verses 20-27).


Who is God?


It says in the ages to come, we’ll still be learning of his grace.  He will always be infinite, we will always be finite.  As we stand in that great day around the throne and we look at him, we’ll realize ‘Hey, the half hath not been told us.  And when we’re there a billion years after that, we’ll say ‘Hey, the half hath not been told us.’  And when we’re there a billion years after that, I know there’s no amount of years, just play along with me here, I’m having a great time, ‘the half hath not been told us,’ because he will always be infinite, and we will always be finite, in the sense, we’ll ever be approaching and never arriving at the full stature of the Son of God.  We will always be being conformed more and more into his image and likeness, even in the ages that are ahead of us.  No man knoweth the Son but the Father” because it takes Almighty, Omniscient God to know the Son, because he also is all of those things.  “Neither knoweth any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”  Who is God?  Nobody really knows what God is really like except the Son, and to whom the Son will reveal him.  How does he reveal him?  What is God like?  You’re here this evening, you grew up in the Church, what is God like?  I grew up in the Church, and I didn’t know what God was like.  Well, I grew up in a house, but we went to church, ok, ah, went to Sunday school, made my first communion, was confirmed, and I didn’t know what he was like.  I didn’t know what he was like from looking at stained-glass windows and incense, and you know, I didn’t know what God was like.  I thought he was mad at me.  And the older I got, the worse I got, so I really thought he was mad at me.  What is he like?  “No man knows the Father but the Son, and to whomsoever the Son will reveal him”, well let’s listen to him then.  “‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, learn of me…’”  ‘No man knows the Father but the Son and to whomsoever the Son will reveal him’, listen to how he reveals him.  “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you, learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, my burden is light’” (verses 28-30).  ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden’, what he is insinuating is, people who are godless are burdened and heavy-laden, people who don’t know Jesus, Yeshua, who don’t know the Lord, are burdened and heavy-laden.  You can go to church, you can call yourself a Christian, but people who don’t know Jesus, that haven’t come to him, not come to Calvary Chapel, not come to a religious organization, people who have not come to him, they are still laboring and heavy-laden, they’re laboring in drugs, they’re laboring in pleasure, they’re laboring in success, they’re laboring with all of their own gods and what they bow the knee to.  And whatever you give the most of your attention and your time and yourself to, that’s your god, that’s what you worship.  “Come unto me” he says “all”, no one’s excluded, that’s who God is.  No one knows the Father but the Son, and to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.  Come unto me ALL OF YOU THAT ARE LABORING, AND HEAVY LADEN”, you’re burdened, your heart is heavy, you can’t stand up under the pressure, “and I will give you rest.”  And he puts these contrasts out in front of us, “labor” verses “rest”.  “Give” he says to us.  “Rest” verses “heavy-laden”.  You can’t work for it, you’re laboring.  If you come, he’ll give.  You want to find rest?  You have to find it in him.  If you’re laboring to find rest in that sense in this world, you won’t find it.  People have all kinds of things, they think ‘If I can do this I’ll be satisfied.’  ‘And if I can do that, I’ll be satisfied.’  ‘And if I have one of these I’ll be satisfied.’  And then they get one and they think, ‘Well if I had two of these, a red one and a blue one, then I’ll be satisfied.’  [Look, Solomon was given more wisdom than any man on earth possessed, and more money than anyone had, and he still wasn’t satisfied.  He then took 700 wives and 300 concubines to himself, and in the end, he still wasn’t satisfied.  Read Ecclesiastes, the whole book.]  ‘If I could only do this then I’ll be satisfied.’  People are crazy.  I mean, I love ‘em, but they’re crazy.  Nah…You know, years ago in the old building, Judy said, my secretary said to me, I have this couple on the phone right now, and they’re desperate, they want somebody to do their wedding, and the pastor backed out the last minute, and they said they’re willing to pay anybody, will somebody here do the wedding?  And I said, ‘Well I don’t understand, what’s the problem?’  And she said, ‘Well they’re sky-divers.’  [laughter, loud]  ‘And they love to sky-dive, and they met sky-diving, so the pastor was going to jump out of the plane with them and marry them on the way down, and he decided to back out.’ [continued laughter]  ‘What should I tell them?’  [loud laughter]  I said, ‘Tell them 25 Grand, for 25 Grand I’ll jump, somebody can instruct me, tell me what to do, I now pronounce you, shump I’ll pull that thing’…I said, ‘No, no, don’t tell them that.’  I knew 25 Grand would not fulfill me, I understood that, would be fun, but it wouldn’t fulfill me.  But people do all kinds of things thinking then they’ll be happy.  I look at bungee jumpers, and I think, ‘What is wrong with these people!?’  Now if you bungee jump, you know, I love you, Jesus loves you, but I’m allowed to think “What’s wrong with you?”.  You probably look at me and think ‘What’s wrong with him?’.  I mean if you’re a bungee jumper, I think ‘What’s wrong with people who want to tie a rubber band to their ankle and jump off a building or a bridge or something?’  They lack something, you know, I’m not sure what it is.  [laughter]  But we live in a crazy culture.  There’s people in places around the world, if they could just get dinner they’d be happy.  And we want to jump off a bridge with a rubber-band tied around our ankle.  And it doesn’t satisfy. 


“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heaven laden”---three things he says to us


“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden” Jesus says “and I will give you rest.”  Three things he says to us, after we come.  First is to come.  You and I have come, those of us who believe, we’ve come.  And then he puts three other things in front of us.  First is this: “Take”, has asks us to take something.  “Take my yoke upon you.”  Secondly, he says “learn of me”, the reason, “for I am meek and lowly in heart.”  Thirdly, he says “you shall find rest for your souls.”  First, “take my yoke upon you”, now even as believers, it’s not until we’re yoked in the yoke with him we find rest.  Jesus was a carpenter, raised in the carpentry shop, and one of the things they would do is they would make yokes for the oxen.  In the Old Testament under the Law, you couldn’t yoke together a mule and an ox [some people in their choices for marriage do that, yoke a mule to an ox], to have something unequally yoked was wrong.  And when they would make the yoke for the oxen, they would put the stronger oxen on one side, and they would fit the yoke to the pair of oxen so it wouldn’t chafe and wouldn’t wear on them, and they wouldn’t bleed and get infections and sores.  And Jesus is saying to us, ‘If you’ll get in the yoke with me, I know all about yokes, take my yoke upon you, because there’s a custom-made place right next to me for you, for us to walk together.  You won’t chafe, it won’t wear you out.’  Bungee jumping will wear you out [laughter].  That’s the best-case scenario.  Trying to win the lottery is going to wear you out.  Trying to win the Clearing House Sweepstakes is going to wear you out.  You’re going to buy so many magazines, you’ll get a heart attack moving ‘em around.  “Take my yoke upon you”, yoked in the yoke with him.  You let go of everything else then, because there he says “and learn of me,  I’m meek and lowly.”  Because in that place, he wasn’t demanding his rights, he was Yahweh-God, he set aside his divine prerogatives, took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of flesh.  “Let this mind be in you” Paul says “that was in Christ Jesus.”  “Learn of me, for I’m meek and I’m lowly.”  I need to learn about that, because I’m not.  Here he is, he’s the King of the Universe, God, and he’s meek and lowly, and here I am, eenie-weeny little me, and I’m not.  Isn’t that crazy?  “Learn of me.”  ‘And as you do that, you’ll find rest for your souls, as you relinquish, as you let go, as you get yoked in the yoke with me.  It’s custom-made for you.  Because there is where you will begin to learn what it is to be meek and lowly.  And you’ll find rest for your souls.  “For my yoke” he says “is easy, my burden is light.”  “No man knows the Father but the Son, and to whomsoever he will reveal him.  Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  That’s who God Almighty is.  Now if you’re here this evening, and you don’t know him, I thought I had known God before I was saved, I can hardly remember, you know, in one sense, what I thought of God before I was saved.  I do remember Christmas Eve, glad that there was an eleven o’clock service, because by then I was drunk enough, I wanted to get out of the cold, and I’d go sit in the church, and those were the songs I knew the words to.  But I sat there, hoping I wasn’t going to get struck by lightning, even not saved, knowing I shouldn’t be doing what I was doing.  Didn’t know though what he was like, didn’t know that he was longing and waiting for me, that he was in love with me, that his Kingdom was accessible, that he had paid the price in his own blood.  I sang the words, and I didn’t understand them, and I didn’t know what they meant.  And then, you know, you get saved, and you sing the same songs, and they blow your mind.  ‘Did I sing that !?  What were my ears clogged with?  Ice, snow, cut off my circulation bungee jumping I think.  But how different it is, isn’t it, when we come and we find out who he is, and how he loves us.  And our whole perception of God is altered, diametric to what we thought, changed.  That we lay down our heads at night, and we know that if he comes while we’re sleeping [ie, if we should die], that’s OK, because we’re going home.  [ie, death is a portal for us to eternal life.]  We know that loved ones have gone ahead of us, and are waiting for us, to be joined in reunion, to see them and to rejoice in his presence.  To know that he loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us, sinners, that whosoever would believe would not perish, but have everlasting life.  That’s what he’s all about.  I’m gonna have the musicians come, we’ll sing a last song, together…[connective expository sermon given on Matthew 11:1-30 in Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia by Pastor Joe Focht.]    


Related links:


John the Baptist expected Jesus to usher in the Millennial Kingdom of God.  We’re the ones closer to that event:  see .


What Kingdom was John expecting, which is about to come perhaps as soon as in our lifetime?  For more material on this subject see the two extensive files on


Herod Antipas and Fortress Machaerus:


History of the early Church which resulted from the 3.5 year preaching and miracle working foundation laid by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples,:


Without Jesus Christ, the Perfect Church is not the Perfect Church: and


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