We read in Matthew 11:2-3, “2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?“‘
When we read these verses one might assume, as I did previously, that John is now starting to question whether or not Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah. I want to suggest that this is not what John is doing at all, instead he is inquiring about something much deeper in the Word of God that John understood and that Yeshua answers specifically to John’s understanding when He responds to John’s disciples.
We know that prior to this incident recorded in Matthew chapter 11 and prior to John the Immerser (Baptizer) being thrown into prison that John proclaimed the following as written in John 1:29-34,
“29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”‘
John had no doubt who Yeshua (Jesus) was, so why would he ask Yeshua if He is the “the one who is to come?”? (see Psalm 118:26-27)
Let’s start by examining John’s question in the Greek to see if there is a more specific question being asked than what we see in our English translation. After having examined the Greek myself my focal point was on one word in our English translation that I believe helps to reveal a more specific meaning to John’s question, that word being “another“. This word is found at the end of verse 3 in Matthew chapter 11. This word “another” is translated from the Greek word “heteros”.
Now let’s examine this word “heteros” using another English word that comes from this Greek root word. That word being “heterosexual”. We understand that someone that is a heterosexual is attracted to those that are of “the other” sex. Whereas, the word homosexual is someone that is attracted to those that are of “the same” sex.
Keeping this in mind, the following suggestion will make more sense now. John the Immerser was not asking Yeshua (Jesus) if he should look for “another”, I believe John was asking Yeshua if he should look for “the other“!
Why would John ask this? Please remember that John was in prison when he sent his disciples to ask this question and I want to suggest that John wanted to know if he could expect to be freed from prison or not. Wouldn’t this be a question on your mind if you were in John’s situation, especially after being so closely tied to the Messiah and used by God to set the stage for the Messiah?
We can find ancient Rabbinical (Jewish) sources that understood and believed that there would or could be 2 different Messiah’s according to the Scriptures. These 2 different functions of salvation were known to be performed by either “Messiah Ben Joseph” or by “Messiah Ben David“. Most of Israel and the religious authorities of that day, when Yeshua walked the Earth in Israel, were expecting Messiah Ben David, or the conquering King who would war against the nations and set Israel free from their physical bondage and establish the Kingdom in its fullness. The lesser known and understood Messiah Ben Joseph, or the suffering servant wasn’t taught or expected by the majority.
I believe by his questioning and Yeshua’s answer that John was more specifically asking Him if He was going to fulfill the role of Messiah Ben David. John already knew that Yeshua had come and was going to fulfill the role of Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant or the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world! John knew the Word of God well and he also knew that if Yeshua (Jesus) was also going to fulfill the role of Messiah Ben David that he would be set free from his “physical” prison and enter into the Kingdom in its fulness. I also believe that John also understood that the work of Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant that would offer Himself up as the Passover Lamb would free His people from their “spiritual” prisons but John desired to know if he could look for the fulfilment of both his spiritual and his current physical bondage!
We read in Matthew 11:4-5, “4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
That was the answer that Yeshua (Jesus) gave for John to hear in order to answer John’s specific question. As was His norm, Yeshua was quoting Scripture in His response. Yeshua was quoting from Isaiah 35:5-6 but there was one specific thing that Yeshua added that is not found in Isaiah chapter 35 that I believe gives John the answer he was seeking for. Yeshua said “lepers are cleansed” and on the surface that may not stand out as unusual to those that already know the role that the Messiah fulfilled on His 1st coming, but I believe it was a witness to John as to what he could expect for now.
Where do we find anything in regards to the instructions of the cleansing of lepers in Scripture? It is primarily found in Leviticus Chapter 14. In verses 3 thru 11, there are instructions given that deal with the High Priest that goes outside of the camp (away from the tabernacle/temple), and there is an unusual cleansing process given that involves blood of a sacrifice, scarlet (thread), water, cedar wood & hyssop before a leper is considered clean by the High Priest! Does this process remind you of anything in regards to Yeshua (Jesus)?
Who is our High Priest? (see Hebrews 4:14-15)
Was Yeshua crucified outside of the camp, outside of the temple? (see Hebrews 13:12)
What came out from His side when the soldier pierced it with his spear? (see John 19:34)
What was used to give Yeshua a drink of the bitter wine vinegar from the sponge? (see John 19:29)
*note: what was used to apply the blood of the spotless Passover Lamb on the lintel and doorposts of the houses to protect them from the angel of death? (see Exodus 12:22)
What does the “scarlet” or “scarlet thread” represent? (the Hebrew words used that are translated as “scarlet” or “scarlet thread” into English are the words “to-w-la-at” and “u-se-ni” which literally mean “scarlet” and “scarlet worm” respectively. The Hebrew word “”to-w-la-at” by itself can also literally mean scarlet worm or scarlet stuff. We see this Hebrew word used in Psalm 22:6 and we know that Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm which is prophetic of Yeshua’s crucifixion!)
What kind of wood do you think He was crucified on? (the Scripture doesn’t clarify the type of wood but with every other point being paralleled exactly I believe it is safe to assume the cross was cedar wood! Also, see 1 Kings 10:27 & 2 Chronicles 9:27, which I believe is proof that cedar trees were in abundance in Israel during the time of Yeshua!)
Yeshua (Jesus) surely would be the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world and He revealed to John the Immerser that He had come to fulfil Isaiah chapter 53, Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant as it is written:
1Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the Arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due
9His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
John the Immerser received the answer to his question by what was written, and because John knew the Scriptures well and the answer he would’ve received and understood proclaimed to him the work of Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering Servant which was the role that Yeshua (Jesus) was going to fulfill at that time. John was to expect “the other” Messiah Ben David, just as we do, at a later time.
What I believe John was hoping for was the spiritual AND the physical fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1-4 which states:
“1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion-to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
As is common with a lot of Messianic (about Messiah) passages written by the prophets, there are more than one fulfilment to them. We know that Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled some of the above passages in the Spiritual realm (see Luke 4:16-21), meaning we have been set free in His Spirit from the spiritual death and slavery that sin brings and that ancient ruins are being rebuilt in the spiritual realm (see Ephesians 2:19-22 & 1 Peter 2:1-8) as well. We are still to look ahead for the physical fulfilment of these prophecies which the fruition will come to be upon Yeshua’s second coming!
Yeshua also went on to say in Matthew 11:6, “”And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”‘
I believe Yeshua is quoting from Isaiah 8:11-18, which says:
“11For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12“You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13“It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. 14“Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15“Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.” 16Bind up the testimony, seal the law (Torah) among my disciples. 17And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. 18Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.”
Yeshua was revealing more understanding to John and I believe He was telling John not to lose heart or stumble over this because the work of Messiah Ben David is not yet, and for him to continue eagerly awaiting for that time. I believe Yeshua wanted to make sure that John wouldn’t be discouraged because things weren’t happening the way he desired or hoped they would just like we all can do at times! The Lord (YHVH) of Hosts, the Son of God is the One performing these roles and He will finish what He began but for now He must hide His Face (see John 14:8-11) from Jacob (the rest of the unbelieving Jews) until He returns as Messiah Ben David, the conquering King!
Our Lord revealed much to John the Immerser but He also strengthened his faith by His Word and He encouraged him!
Even though our hearts and minds should always be rejoicing in our Messiah Ben Joseph, our suffering servant and King that set us free from the spiritual bondage of our sin and from being slaves to the ruler of this world (satan), there are times when our physical bondage in this world can overwhelm us and bring great discouragement and suffering. But fear not and be of great cheer and encouragement for that which is to come is far greater and worth every moment of our trials, struggles and suffering as a woman in the anguish of labor that when the child comes is filled with great love & joy and the former pain she will call to mind no more!
I don’t believe in coincidences and I do not think it was a coincidence that the verse prior to the verses that Yeshua referred to in Isaiah 35:5-6 when answering John’s question also spoke to John’s heart because John would’ve know these verses by heart. That verse being Isaiah 35:4, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.“‘
May His Word of truth and promise speak to our hearts and fill us with great expectation, encouragement and joy as well! For He has overcome the world so that we will have great peace, His shalom that surpasses all understanding!
Amen & HalleluYah!
Until next time, the Lord bless you and guard you!
“26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. 27The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” (Psalm 118:26-27)
“3And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; 4Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: 5And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. 8And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days. 9But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. 10And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil. 11And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:” (Leviticus 14:3-11)
“14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14-15)
“12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12)
“34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” (John 19:34)
“29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.” (John 19:29)
“22Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.” (Exodus 12:22)
“6But I am a worm (to-w-la-at) and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” (Psalm 22:6)
“27And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah.” (1 Kings 10:27)
“27And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah.” (2 Chronicles 9:27)
“16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”‘ (Luke 4:16-21)
“19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
“1So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:1-8)
“8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:8-11)