The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 11:7
And as they departed…
That is, the messengers of John,
(Luke 7:24) when they returned to their master, to give an account to
him of what they had heard and seen,
Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John;
he took this
opportunity before the whole company, who had heard what passed in
conversation between him and the disciples of John, to say some
things concerning his character and ministry: and which he did,
partly to rectify and remove any wrong opinion they might have
conceived of him, from this message of his, as if he had retracted
his former sentiments concerning Christ, at least was wavering and
doubtful about him; and partly, to put them in mind of their former
zeal and attachment to John's ministry, when they went out in large
bodies to attend upon it; and to revive a good opinion of him; and
signifies, that they would do well to ask themselves, what views
they had in attending on him, and how they came to grow indifferent
to so great a man: and Christ, by giving an account of his character
and office, confirms his own Messiahship; and this commendation of
John, he chose to enter into, after the departure of his messengers,
lest what he said of him should be interpreted as mere flattery:
what went ye out in the wilderness to see?
This refers to (Matthew 3:5)
where we read, that great numbers from Jerusalem, Judea, and the
country round about Jordan, went out into the wilderness of Judea,
where John came preaching, to hear him, and be baptized by him; and
our Lord asks, what was it that led such multitudes of them into the
wilderness? What did they expect to see there?
A reed shaken with the wind?
This may either refer to John's gesture
in preaching, who might wave to and fro as a reed does, when shaken
by the wind; and Christ's question is, did ye go out only to see and
observe the preacher's gesture, to see him move his body to and fro?
Was it not to hear his doctrine, and receive benefit for your souls?
And did you not? Wherefore, you ought still to retain a valuable
respect for him. Or this may regard their opinion of him; and the
sense of the interrogation is, when you first went out to him, did
you take him to be an unstable, inconstant man? Like a reed shaken
with every wind! If you did, you were mistaken; he was firm and
stable in his sentiments and ministry, his preaching was not yea and
nay, his doctrine was all of a piece; he stood to it, that he was not
the Messiah, but his forerunner; the testimony he bore was always
alike, consistent with himself, and he is the same man now he ever
was. The Jews use this comparison of a man to a reed, in a sense just
the reverse, and make it to signify constancy, and not inconstancy,
as well as tenderness, in opposition to roughness, severity, and
``Let a man (say they F23) be always (hnqb Kr) , "tender as a
reed", and let him not be hard and stubborn as a cedar:
when the four winds of the world go out, the reed goes and
comes with them; and when the winds are still, the reed
stands in its place.''
So they observe F24, that it is said, that "the Lord shall smite
Israel, as a reed shaken in the water", (1 Kings 14:15) which they
interpret by way of blessing.
``As a reed (say they) stands in a place of water, its body
waves about, and its roots are many; and though all the
winds in the world come and blow upon it, they cannot move
it out of its place, but it goes and comes with them; and
when the winds are still, the reed stands in its place.''
F23 Derech Eretz, fol. 18. 1.
F24 T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 11:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=011&verse=007>. 1999.