January 11: Matthew 11
Genesis 12; Matthew 11; Nehemiah 1; Acts 11
The last paragraph of Matthew 11 has drawn and comforted and strengthened weary pilgrims for two millennia now. His words speak into the darkness and blindness, leading humanity out of its sin-induced torments.
The first statement sums up much of what he’s said throughout the chapter: that God reverses all our categories of greatness, and He reveals His glory not to the “wise and understanding,” but to “little children,” metaphorically speaking (25). He works this way because He is inherently gracious (26), giving lavish gifts to those who do not deserve it. He’s a jolly, generous Father of a God that way.
Then Jesus moves from words of grace to words of dominance and supremacy. With God, grace and power are not mutually exclusive; God is all-powerful, that He may dispense His grace as He sees fit (27).
It is what He does with His power that woos our souls to surrender to Him in humble joy. He does not crush us; He enters into our plight and leads and heals us (28-30).
In order to qualify to come to Jesus, you must not be arrogantly choosy, demanding a Savior that fits your American middle-class, Goldilocks sensibilities (16-19). You must be a “little child”; that is, you must “labor” and be “heavy laden” (28). Do you qualify?
For Jesus promises rest to those who do come (28b). But this rest comes in the most ironic place: under Jesus’ yoke (29). A yoke was a wooden beam that laid over the shoulders of a beast of burden, to carry a load. A yoke was a burden of work, and labor. But Jesus says, under my yoke, you’ll find rest.
Everyone wears a yoke. The question is not whether we do, but which one, laid on our shoulders by which master. You can’t see the yoke, but you can tell which one is there by the results: whether you are at rest, or weary and heavy-laden.
We find rest under Jesus’ yoke for two reasons. First, Jesus walks under the same yoke with us. He does the heavy lifting. And secondly, he teaches us along the way (29): “learn from me.” He is gentle to those who struggle, and he is not ashamed to get down in the dirt with the low.
We find rest under Jesus’ yoke because under that yoke we find Jesus himself. Compared to every other yoke, therefore, his is easy and light (30). Therefore, we do not learn from him, and then decide whether we are going to submit to Him. Rather, we humbly submit ourselves to him, and then learn like children along the way. This is the way.