Matthew 11 is divided into three distinct sections: the first concerns John the Baptist, the second notes Jesus’ condemnation of the unrepentant cities, and the final section is Jesus’ invitation to rest.
In verses 1-6, Jesus reassures John that his faith is not in vain by pointing to the nature of His work and audience. Like His forerunner, and unlike the religious leaders of the day, Jesus lived and worked among the common man, and was gladly accepted by them.
In verses 7-19, Jesus reassures the people that John was indeed the messenger sent before the Messiah who would prepare the way for Him (v 10) and the Elijah who was for to come (v 14). Jesus paid John the ultimate compliment in verse 11, “Assuredly I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater that John the Baptist.”
At the end of verse 11 he provides us with ultimate promise, “but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” What a blessing it is to be a member of the kingdom of heaven, the church!
In verses 20-24 we find Jesus rebuking the unrepentant cities, wherein it is also noted that most of Jesus’ mighty works had been done. In previous fashion, John rebuked the religious leaders of the day for their failure to repent (Matt 3:7-12). Of all who should have recognized the signs of John’s preaching and the coming Christ, those who best knew the law rejected it.
Finally, in Matthew 11:25-30 Jesus issues His beautiful invitation to all who would come to Him and receive rest. This brings to mind John’s identification and declaration of the person of Jesus in John 1:29 and 36 when he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The lamb is a symbol of peace and of reconciliation. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6) through whom God reconciles all men to Himself (2 Cor 5:19).