Matthew 11.24-30 | Resting like, in, & with Jesus
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 11:20–11:30
INTRO|RESTING IN JESUS’ WORDS
The Bible teaches that every Word of Scripture is breathed out by God through different men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Each book of the Bible is supreme in its authority and unique in its purpose. Matthew wrote to teach. The Gospel of Matthew is, therefore, the most comprehensive record of Jesus direct teaching. It is not only a full account of everything Jesus DID; it is the most complete record of everything Jesus SAID. It was historically called “the book of Jesus’ sayings” and so well-organized, it served as the first theological textbook for the early church, used to instruct the people about Jesus.
Most people, even non-believers, will describe Jesus as a loving, wise, and good teacher, but few actually have taken the time to read Matthew to learn what Jesus actually said. Perhaps that is because it is easier to dismiss what you learn ABOUT Jesus from the words of men, then it is to dismiss what you learn FROM Jesus in His own words. Jesus didn’t just teach us moral rules or give us advice on how to be more loving. Matthew portrays Jesus as unapologetically judgmental, deeply theological, and warmly encouraging. Up to this point, Jesus has been a humble servant and teacher wandering the back hills of Galilee. He brought a message of good news, performed acts of healing, and had very few confrontations. Jesus warned against certain kinds of people like the self-righteous. But now, Jesus UNEXPECTEDLY turns into a fire and brimstone judgment preacher condemning specific cities to hell. If that is not “shocking” enough, Jesus proceeds to thank God for hiding the truth from these condemned cities and for revealing it to losers like Matthew. Finally, after declaring himself to be the one and only way to find God, he invites every one tired of failing in life to come to Him and receive rest.
What the REAL Jesus says about men, the Father, and Himself, will surprise, disturb, confuse, and encourage you all at the same time. In response, you will either play theological yoga in order to rest in what your mind/gut says OR you will surrender your need to understand and rest in what Jesus says.
GRIEVING THE RESPONSE TO JESUS | RESTING IN GOD’S REJECTION
But Jesus says some crazy things. After comparing his a “generations” to children on a playground, Jesus proceeds to denounce specific cities around Galilee that he visited. He is angry and grieved at the same time. Anger is not righteous if it is not accompanied by grief. In a series of “WOES”, Jesus declares a grief-filled Judgment on the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and even his hometown of Capernaum. Jesus had performed many powerful miracles in these cities. He does not condemn them for the opposition experienced; rather, He condemns them for their response to Him. Jesus compares them to ancient cities, and is hardest on his own hometown of Capernaum. Because Jesus came from Capernaum, it’s likely they started feeling like a “heavenly city”. For their lack of repentance, and yet extensive exposure to His presence, Jesus says they will be sent down to hell and says that a city of sexual deviants will have an easier time than them there.
We often hear Christians and churches talking about the impending judgment of the world. Here, Jesus unleashes on cities that are largely Christian-Jewish, setting them lower the pagan ones. Most of Jesus’ references to hell are directed toward those who wrongly believe they are saved. This word of judgment is especially for Christians. It is a message for the lukewarm, the comfortable, or the fake who enjoy the presence of God without anything changing in their life. Jesus’ words reveal a sobering reality: Just because Jesus is present doesn’t mean hearts are changed. Just because you are CLOSE to Jesus does not mean you are saved by Him.
The presence of Jesus in a place, even one at which Jesus does great works, does not guarantee salvation for everyone who is there. There are many countries, cities, communities, and churches who will be in SPECICAL trouble at judgment; NOT because Jesus has not really been in their midst, but because he has. It is hard to believe, but Jesus does many wonderful works in places that do not love Him. Jesus will rebuild, Jesus will rescue, and Jesus will restore in communities that will ultimately reject Him. We know we love him when we are CHANGED by Him. That does not mean that those places don’t pretend to love them. The point is this: Jesus is not interested in the promotion of his presence; he is interested in the response to his presence. So it doesn’t matter if you claim your life (or church) is “ALL ABOUT JESUS” if you are not truly repenting in his presence. This scary thought echoes the scariest words Jesus ever spoke to os-called believers: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7.21-23)
Jesus is grieved by the lack of response to His presence. Even if many people are talking about Him, few people believe in Him. Jesus grieves but wants us to rest in rejection.
PRAISING GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY WITH JESUS | RESTING IN GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
He directs with this anguish over the lack of RESPONSE in men by praising the SOVEREIGNTY of God. 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have HIDDEN these things from the wise and understanding and REVEALED them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your GRACIOUS will.
Most people will reject Jesus, even if they enjoy his presence. But just because hearts aren’t changed, doesn’t mean God isn’t in control. Jesus doesn’t get so overwhelmed or lost in the sin of men that he begins to trust the character of a bad circumstance than he does in the character of a good God. On the contrary, despite mission failure Jesus declares his thankfulness to God. He doesn’t pray for himself, but for us to see that it is an act of worship to admit that even though we do not have it all figured out, God does. In his prayer, reveals what God does, how he does, and why He does it.
WHAT DOES GOD DO? Jesus says that God the Father is controlling everything. He is sovereign. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19.21. The Sovereignty of God means he has supreme, unlimited, and irresistible power to accomplish what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. God rules and works according to His eternal purpose, even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule. Jesus thanks God for both hiding the truth and for revealing it.
HOW DOES IT DO IT? Jesus says that God hides from “wise and understanding” a reveals to the little children. The difference is: one is puffed up in spirit and believe they deserve to be saved, the other is poor in Spirit and knows they don’t. One is self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-righteous. The other is humble, helpless, and hungry for Jesus righteousness. Humility is never voluntary. It is a gift of grace that God wills. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (1Timothy 2.25-26).
WHY DOES HE DO IT THIS WAY? Jesus says God is acting according to his gracious will. God’s plan is always unfolding with love and with certainty. Men are not simply unaware innocent beings—we are sinful rebels to whom God owes nothing. Hiding is an act of judgment—a justified one. And revelation is an act of gracious love. Jesus DELIGHTS in God’s hiding and revealing because it guarantees God to be the one who is in control of His plan. This plan is NOT dependent upon men but IS designed to lead us to praise. This helps him to rest. God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1Corinthians 1.27-31). We rest in the truth that God’s plan is beyond what I can understand (or like), his plan is unstoppable, and his plan is better than I imagine. Jesus wants us to rest in Sovereignty.
ELEVATING THE REVELATION OF JESUS | RESTING IN GOD’S REVELATION
Now, it is true that God works in mysterious ways, but God’s plan is not a complete mystery. Deuteronomy 29.29 says: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. There is certainly a lot that remains mysterious about God’s plans, but God has revealed much through His Word. Namely, the Bible says that God’s divine character and His sovereign plan finds its expression in the person and work of Jesus Christ. About himself, Jesus says:: 27 All things have been HANDED OVER TO ME by my Father, and NO ONE KNOWS the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son CHOOSES to reveal him. We are not supposed to spend every waking moment trying to figure out God’s plan. He wants us to rest in the revelation of His Son as the key to the plan.
Jesus says He is supreme over all men. Jesus is not a great teacher among other teachers. He is not just a religious leader, a good teacher, or a tragic hero. Jesus and the Father share all things: Jesus is God. God enters into my brokenness. God humbles himself to serve me. God dies on the cross for me. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus is not only Godlike, God is Jesus-like.
Jesus says He alone knows God. YOU CANNOT LEARN ABOUT GOD without JESUS. Any claims to be spiritual, mystical, or psychic all fail because they are not connected with Jesus. There is NO knowledge of God the Father that does not come through Jesus and that is not brought into the individual heart by the Holy Spirit. All roads do not lead to God. And any road that leads to God runs through Jesus..
Jesus says He saves people. We don’t save ourselves. Jesus saves who he wants to save when he wants to save them. NO one is saved through good morals. NO one is saved through good works. NO is saved through good intentions. Anyone who is saved is saved through the revelation of Jesus, about Jesus, from Jesus: Acts 4.12 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Jesus chooses. Jesus reveals. Jesus saves. Jesus changes and Jesus keeps. The most important questions in life are not: what am I achieving, what I am I doing right, or what am I doing wrong, but what am I believing about Jesus? There is no talking about God’s plan without talking about Jesus. There is no talking about meaning in life without talking about Jesus. There is no talking about spiritual things without talking about Jesus. There is no talking about hope for change without talking about Jesus. There is no talking about “rest” in life without talking about Jesus.
RECEIVING THE INVITATION | RESTING IN JESUS WORK
Receiving the REVELATION of who Jesus is should leads us to rest. Jesus says: COME TO ME, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 TAKE MY YOKE upon you, and LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will FIND REST for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Revelation is the key to rest. If we are not restful in our life, if we are discontent, if we are overburdened as a way of life, we have stopped believing something about Jesus. If Jesus is not all-powerful, there is no rest. If Jesus is not all-knowing, there is no rest. If Jesus is not gracious, there is no rest. If Jesus not forgiving, there is no rest. If Jesus is not ever-present, you cannot rest. We may wonder how Jesus can invite people who He just said He must choose to reveal Himself to. In truth, only those to whom Jesus has revealed Himself will ever respond to the invitation.
JESUS CALLS all of those who labor—those who believe—and find themselves labor and heavy laden. These are those those for whom life is difficult; those whom have doubts; those whom find themselves struggling with sin; those burdened with guilt; those who are beat up and feel like a failure. Reformer John Calvin said, “Failures make us fit to receive His grace.” Jesus does not invite those who believe they have it all together, but those who will admit they don’t.
JESUS OFFERS a different yoke. He invites us to remove the burdensome yoke we are living under and put on His. More than likely Jesus is referring the heavy yoke of religion that the Pharisees required for righteousness—the yoke that was more concerned with men’s approval, external religion, and working for God’s acceptance. And even though Jesus yoke is different, it is not any less “righteous”. On the contrary, it is infinitely more. Jesus yoke is easy because Jesus GIVES it to you…but we find difficult to find rest in. As pastor Tim Keller explains: Martin Lloyd-Jones once explained:
“Imagine that you were a slave in the southern United States before the Emancipation Proclamation. That means that you couldn’t vote; you had no power; and somebody could beat you up and probably kill you. You didn’t have rights. So if you were in town and some white person told you to do this or that and was abusive to you, you were very frightened and did anything he said.
Now it’s ten years later, and the Emancipation Proclamation has been issued. You have rights. But you walk into town, and a white person starts to yell at you. Even though you know with your head, “Hey, I have some rights here,” you’re still scared and acting like a slave.
Keller rightly explains that this is tendency of every Christian. You know, but you don’t know. You have rest in your mind but not in your soul. You know that you’ve been saved from slavery to sin and that you should live free. If you really believed in your heart what you know with your head (i.e., that there is no condemnation for you because you are in Christ Jesus, and God regards you as perfect because of Christ’s righteousness), then you would not still be a slave in your heart to success or to what other people think of you.
CONCLUSION: RESTING JESUS CONTINUING WORK. It is easy not because it requires less, but because it requires nothing. About becoming a Christian, Martin Luther rightly said: “What, have we nothing to do? No! Nothing!” Be still, and realize that all your salvation is in Jesus. Be still. You have nothing to contribute at all. Look at him, and that will make you holy. And if you’re not a Christian, it will make you a Christian. We not only rest in Jesus work, but in his continual working. A yoke is a wooden crossbeam that goes over two, not one. We can rest in failure because we know Jesus is still working. We can rest in adversity because Jesus does all the heavy lifting. We can rest in life because we never have to face it alone. I invite you to surrender the need to understand and rest in what Jesus says.
More in Matthew | The Mission of the King (Book 2)
September 28, 2014Matthew 13.53-14.12 | Saved by rejection
September 21, 2014Matthew 13.31-33, 44-46, 51-52 | What the Kingdom does to us
September 14, 2014Matthew 13.24-30, 34-43, 47-50 | Weeds in the Church