[The Gospel According to…] Matthew 11:1-6

Bible opened to Matthew 11 with pascha 70% cacao dark chocolate and glass of milk

WARNING: Uneven Chocolate Break detected. That’s your third strike, Jackson. Get it together! Get it all together and put it in a backpack, all of it, so it’s together!

And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know? Take it to the It Store and sell it, or put it in an It Museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together!

Today’s passages: Matthew 11:1-6, Isaiah 35:5-6Isaiah 61:1-3

Here’s the scene: John the Baptist got imprisoned for criticizing Herod’s immorality, so he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he’s the “Coming One,” the Messiah. Jesus tells John’s disciples:

Go and report to John what you hear and see:  the blind receive sight 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. (vv.4-5)

Again, we see the gospel associated with physical healing. The good news goes hand-in-hand with people’s bodies getting restored.

But when Jesus gives John’s disciples the message to take back, he’s actually referencing two different passages in Isaiah. His litany of healing miracles paraphrases Isaiah 35:5-6: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.” The chapter he’s drawing from is a prophetic passage about God bringing water to a thirsty land and establishing a Highway of Holiness to bring back God’s ransomed people. It’s good news: not just about healing, but about restoration on all fronts.

When Jesus says, “The poor have the gospel preached to them,” he’s referencing Isaiah 61:1:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.

Jesus is telling John and his crew that he’s bringing liberty, and with the Jewish nation under Roman rule in the 1st century, people were hungry for liberty. And let’s not forget that John is in prison as Jesus sends this message back to him! And this whole proclamation of good news–from healings, to bringing freedom to captives, to setting God’s broken world right–is centered on Jesus Christ. Yes, he’s telling John: I am the Coming One. I am the Messiah.

So we’re starting to get a picture of the gospel according to Matthew. Asked to define the good news, Matthew might say, “The gospel is that the Messiah has arrived.” I’m sure we’ll further refine that as we move through the book, but for now, we’ve got a provisional answer.

Today’s chocolate is another slab of Pascha 70% cacao dark chocolate. As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t break it off as cleanly as I would have liked.

Pascha 70% cacao dark chocolate bar with uneven break

Get it together!

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