Matthew 11:7-10. And as they departed Or, as Luke has it, when they were departed, Jesus began to say concerning John What he would not say concerning him in the hearing of these his disciples, lest he should seem to flatter him, or to compliment him into an adherence to his former testimony. To avoid all suspicion of this kind, he deferred his commendation of him till the messengers were gone: and then delivered it to the people, to prevent all imaginations as if John were wavering in his judgment, and had sent the two disciples for his own rather than their satisfaction. What went ye out into the wilderness, in which he preached, to see? A reed shaken by the wind That is, a man of an unstable disposition, of a weak and cowardly conduct? In this question, which implies a strong negation, the invincible courage and constancy of the Baptist are applauded. His imprisonment for reproving King Herod showed that he was not afraid of men; and as for his constancy, though it might seem a little shaken by the message which he sent, it was not impaired by it in the least. For his faith in Christ could not but remain inviolable, as it had been founded on a particular revelation, and on the visible descent of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by a voice from heaven, declaring him to be the Son of God. A man clothed in soft raiment An effeminate courtier, accustomed to fawning and flattery? You may expect to find persons of such a character in palaces, not in a wilderness. In this question, the austere and mortified life of the Baptist is praised, and the spiritual nature of the Messiah’s kingdom insinuated. His forerunner did not resemble any of the officers who attend the courts of earthly princes, and consequently Christ himself was in no respect to be like an earthly prince. A prophet? yea, and more (Luke, much more) than a prophet John justly deserved to be called a prophet, because he excelled in every thing peculiar to a prophet. He was commissioned by God, and had immediate communication with him, John 1:33; he foretold that the kingdom of heaven, spoken of by Daniel, was at hand. He pointed out the Messiah by revelation. He declared the terrible judgments that were to befall the Jews on account of their impenitence, their unbelief, and their rejecting the Messiah, Luke 3:17. And he was more than a prophet, inasmuch as he was the Messiah’s harbinger, sent to prepare the way before him, (see note on Malachi 3:1,) an office which clothed him with a dignity superior to that of a simple prophet; not to mention that he had the honour of baptizing the Messiah himself.
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