Father, thank You for sending Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Lord of all, the Davidic King, the strong man who defeats Satan, the conqueror of death, the One who invites us into His family, and the giver of rest to our souls. Help us do Your will by faith, as we seek to follow Him. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Matthew 11-12
Matthew 11–12 In the midst of various negative responses to His ministry, Jesus graciously gives an invitation for all nations to find rest in Him. Note that Jesus’ generous invitation is extended from God the Father, who revealed it directly to Jesus (11:25–27). Here, as Jesus models unusual meekness and offers ultimate spiritual rest and adoption, there remains a need for commitment to Jesus’ call. Jesus can be meek, yet still divisive, and His followers must take His yoke and do the Father’s will (11:28–30; 12:46–50). This is what it means to join the spiritual family of God (12:46–50).
Notice that Jesus had warned His disciples to expect all kinds of difficulty in their work for Him, but also urges them to rely completely on the Holy Spirit, who will give them all they need (10:16–23).
In these chapters, observe at least three types of negative response:
- Some people who heard Jesus expressed disappointment and confusion (11:1–15). John the Baptist, like most Jews, was disappointed and confused because Jesus did not come in judgment and power, overthrowing all nations opposed to Israel.
- Some hearers listen, only to reject and find fault with Jesus or His disciples (11:16–24; 12:43–45). Note: To enjoy and even appreciate Jesus’ miracle working authority is not the same as to repent, believe, and follow Him.
- Another group of Jewish leaders actively and willfully oppose Jesus and His ministry (12:1–14, 22–42) even though a correct reading of the Old Testament should have indicated Jesus as the coming Messiah! Instead of worshiping the Lord of the Sabbath, the Pharisees conspired against Him, even planning to destroy Him (12:1–14). These men who were students of the Old Testament and religious leaders actually called Jesus’ work demonic (12:22–42).
Jesus is consciously living as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah in whom the nations will one day put their hope. Prophecy is being fulfilled, yet many still reject the Messiah (12:15–21).
28 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.
- Kingdom values are often at odds with the world’s values. Jesus explains that proud, intellectual, and self-sufficient minds will not understand the rule of the new kingdom of God. Little children, on the other hand, are dependent and helpless. Similarly, true knowledge about God, His rule, and the gospel is not accessible even to the sharpest thinkers unless—or until—Jesus opens their eyes and heart. Put simply, in the economy of Christ, faith is honored above intellectual degrees. How can your language, attitude, and lifestyle better reflect this new kingdom value?
- Jesus tells us that what we say originates in the disposition of our heart. Careless or hurtful words reveal a heart problem. If that’s true, what’s the solution for our careless speech?
- Jesus never said it would all be easy! Recognize that, with these chapters in Matthew, Jesus normalizes difficulty for those who follow Him. How can you and your fellow believers work together to better integrate Jesus’ perspective as you make decisions and seek to encourage one another?
- As you identify yourself as a follower of Jesus, take a spiritual interest in others and let Jesus be the filter. Mention your love for Christ early in the relationship. Pray for the boldness, opportunities, and ability to share the gospel with an unbelieving friend or stranger. Remember the MOR. [Making Disciples]