“Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:19)
When John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, he realized that his ministry had reached its conclusion. He wanted his disciples and others to follow Jesus. He wanted them to see that the miracles Jesus was performing demonstrated that He was the promised Messiah, the one who John prepared them for. The signs, as Jesus pointed out, were fulfillments of the prophecies of Isaiah 35:4-6 and 61:1-11, passages which refer to the Messiah and the Kingdom of God.
Many of the Jews, particularly the rich, the educated, the priests, and the leadership rejected the signs because they scorned the sign-givers: John, Jesus and His disciples. They were common people. They were not of the elite, the ruling religious parties, nor were they disciples of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus condemned the leadership because the signs should have demonstrated to them the power of God and led them to faith and repentance. Instead Jesus praised the faith of needy people, the poor, the downtrodden, the exploited, the sick, the lepers, the sinners. These knew their sinfulness, accepted the signs and love of Jesus and believed.
Many people today want God on their terms, not His. They reject the gospel because they find that following Jesus is a difficult and burdensome task which interferes with their lives, their agendas, their path to self-fulfillment. Yet those who are self-sufficient and wise in their own eyes will never rest. True wisdom comes from God alone. Wisdom reveals our weakness, our sinfulness, our need for a savior. In our world all seek comfort and joy in things that do not satisfy, that leave them broken and in despair. What all humans need is rest from their weary lot in life, from their striving to be on top, to be somebody. These will find satisfaction and relief only by surrendering their lives and priorities to Jesus. He has true rest for the weak and the downtrodden.