Matthew 11:5 MEANING

Matthew 11:5
(5) The blind receive their sight.--Apparently no facts were stated which might not have already come to the ears of the Baptist. At least one instance of each class of miracle has already been recorded by St. Matthew, the blind (Matthew 9:27), the lame (Matthew 9:6), the leper (Matthew 8:2), the dead (Matthew 9:25). The raising of the widow's son at Nain, which in St. Luke follows closely upon the healing of the centurion's servant, must also have preceded what is here narrated. What the Baptist needed was, not the knowledge of fresh facts, but a different way of looking at those he already knew. Where these works were done, there were tokens that the coming One had indeed come. But above all signs and wonders, there was another spiritual note of the kingdom, which our Lord reserves as the last and greatest: Poor men have the good news proclaimed to them. They are invited to the kingdom, and told of peace and pardon. It is as though our Lord knew that the Baptist, whose heart was with the poor, would feel that One who thus united power and tenderness could be none other than the expected King.

Verse 5. - The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear (and, Revised Version), the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. The first and the last of the examples selected by our Lord are fulfilments or' prophecy (Isaiah 61:1). Observe that

(1) the words are taken from the LXX. (εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοις... τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν), which, perhaps, represents a different reading from the Massoretic text (cf. Cheyne, in loc., 'Critical Note').

(2) Our Lord reverses the order of the expressions, taking the restoration of sight to the blind as the commencement of a series of physical miracles, and thus making spiritual work the climax.

(3) He does not quote Isaiah's phrase, "liberty to the captives," although the quotation of its context could not but suggest it to John, the reason being, it would seem, that he desired to call John's attention away from the more political part of Messiah's work to that which alone forms the basis of permanent political improvement - the restoration of the individual.

(4) In accordance with this is the fact that when he was laying stress on the character of his adherents as the one qualification for sharing in his kingdom, he alluded to the same passage of Isaiah (vide Matthew 5:3-5). John was not wholly emancipated from the Jewish tendency to regard the external results of the kingdom; our Lord's mind dwelt rather on the internal results. Although John's difficulty had been felt when he heard of the works (ver. 2, note), our Lord only said in reply, "Tell him of my works." It was an old message, and yet a new one. In the nature of those works, when fully understood, lay the true solution of his difficulty. Observe that here also Christ adds a Beatitude (ver. 6). The blind (Matthew 9:27, note), (and the lame. The "and" is doubtless genuine here, its omission in some manuscripts being due to the parallel passage in Luke. Observe the rhythm, "blind and lame," "lepers and deaf," "and dead and poor." Perhaps this is the result of oral transmission. The lame walk (Isaiah 35:6). The dead are raised up. "Quod novissime factum erat juveni Nainitico" (Bengel; and so Ellicott, 'Hist. Lects.,' pp. 181, 183, edit. 1861). The gospel; good tidings (Revised Version text [not margin], probably to suggest to English readers the reference to Isaiah 61:1).

11:2-6 Some think that John sent this inquiry for his own satisfaction. Where there is true faith, yet there may be a mixture of unbelief. The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation; call in question the most important truths. But we hope that John's faith did not fail in this matter, and that he only desired to have it strengthened and confirmed. Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ for their satisfaction. Christ points them to what they heard and saw. Christ's gracious condescensions and compassions to the poor, show that it was he that should bring to the world the tender mercies of our God. Those things which men see and hear, if compared with the Scriptures, direct in what way salvation is to be found. It is difficult to conquer prejudices, and dangerous not to conquer them; but those who believe in Christ, their faith will be found so much the more to praise, and honour, and glory.The blind receive their sight,.... Our Lord here, has reference to several prophecies concerning the Messiah, in Isaiah 35:6 and which having their accomplishment in him, John and his disciples might easily and strongly conclude, that he was he that was to come, and that they should not look for another. The several things here mentioned, were not all done at this time, but were what these disciples had sufficient and authentic evidence of; sight was restored to the blind before them then; and no doubt they were informed of the two blind men, that had their eyes opened, Matthew 9:30

and the lame walk; as did the man sick of the palsy, who was brought to him on a bed, carried by four men, but went away himself, with his bed upon his shoulders, Matthew 9:2

the lepers are cleansed: as the poor man was, that was full of leprosy, and who was cured by Christ, by touching him, Matthew 8:3

and the deaf hear; as did the man, into whose ears Christ put his fingers and said, Ephphatha, be opened, Mark 7:33

and the dead are raised: as were Jairus's daughter, Matthew 9:18 and the widow's son of Nain, Luke 7:15

and the poor have the Gospel preached them; by "the poor" are meant, either the preachers of the Gospel; for so the words may be rendered, "the poor preach the Gospel": and such were the apostles of Christ; they were poor with respect to the things of this world; they were chiefly fishermen; and, with respect to human literature, they were unlearned men, had no stock or furniture of acquired learning, and were mean, abject, and contemptible, in the sight and opinion of men; and yet Christ called, qualified, and sent them forth to preach the Gospel. Or else, the hearers of it are designed; who were also the poor of this world, made a very low figure in life, and had but a small share of knowledge and understanding, and so were despised, and reckoned as cursed by the Scribes and Pharisees: or they were such, who were poor in spirit, or spiritually poor; who saw their spiritual poverty, bewailed and acknowledged it, and sought after the true riches of grace, and glory in Christ. Now these, as they had the Gospel preached to them more fully and clearly, with more power and authority, and so as it never was before or since, so they "received" it, as Tremellius from the Syriac reads the text, readily and willingly, joyfully and gladly, with faith and love; and were, as it may be also rendered, "evangelized" by it, or thrown into a gospel mould and frame: which may be said to be done, when a man has a spirit of liberty, in opposition to a spirit of bondage; when he lives by faith on Christ alone; when his comforts do not spring from his works, but from Christ; when the love and grace of God influence his repentance and obedience; when a man has a spirit of meekness and of love to the saints, is of a forbearing and forgiving spirit: when he is desirous of performing all duties both to God and man, and yet depends upon none of them, but upon Christ alone, for salvation.

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