Matthew 11:4-5 says this, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: those who are BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and those who limp walk, those with leprosy are cleansed and those who are deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
Disciples of John the Baptist have been sent back to their master, currently in prison (Matthew 4:12) with an eyewitness report about what they have seen Jesus do. This is the answer to John’s question about whether Jesus is the Messiah or if they should expect someone else (Matthew 11:1–4). This might have been an expression of John’s impatience or confusion. Or, John’s faith in Jesus may have been wavering because he expected the Messiah to bring immediate judgment on the unrepentant in Israel. This was a common misunderstanding prior to Christ’s death and resurrection (John 2:22; Matthew 16:21–23).
What has Jesus done? He tells John’s disciples to report the miracles and preaching message He has been proclaiming. All of these describe powerful works Jesus has done—but Christ is doing more than suggesting John should believe because of His power to heal. Jesus is referencing several prophesies made by Isaiah, and applying them to Himself:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (Isaiah 35:5–6).
“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; to proclaim the year of the LORD‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1–2).
John the Baptist would recognize those comments as Scripture quotations. He would realize Jesus is claiming to be the fulfillment to Isaiah’s prophecies. The verses around those passages also speak of God’s judgment and vengeance. Jesus may be assuring John that the time of God’s judgment will come, even if it has not yet happened. For now, John should trust that Jesus is the one who was to come.
It’s kind of an amazing account here. Jesus is “proving” Himself to John as the one who was to come. Maybe this was part of the friendship that the two had formed? Maybe it was Jesus just being Jesus in all that He did and said, yet another person that needed convincing….
Either way, I like it. It shows the “human-ness” of the entire situation.