Matthew 11:28-30; The Yoke

These verses are underlined in all my Bibles. Who can’t get onboard with the idea of rest for the weariness we all experience?

I suppose that we usually read these verses as a stand-alone aphorism. Reading them in context does not diminish the joy of reading them. But it might shift the meaning, if not the application, a bit.

We think we experience weariness, but I imagine our experience is minimal compared to the average first century Jew Jesus was talking to. As we learned yesterday, he wasn’t really appealing to the power brokers. He was with the people. Life was not easy.

In addition to that, I believe Jesus is referring to the burden of the Law. The Pharisees had really distorted the Law. God’s Law is good, but it can be turned into a burden. The material just ahead will give us some examples.

And the people of Israel were a weary people because the were truthfully still in exile. They have a history of weariness.

Jesus is offering a different way. We know it isn’t an easy way, but it is a more comfortable way. Learning from Jesus is a better way. There is a lot less chafing.

Jesus quotes from Jeremiah, on of the prophets of the Exile, and offers “rest for your souls”. That sounds a lot like the shalom that people wanted. Sounds good to me.

I’ll take that yoke. As Dylan sang, “You gotta serve somebody”. I will serve Jesus.

Exactly 37 Canada geese just had a parade past my office window. Single file. I see two more adults with babies refusing to participate in the parade.

Matthew 11:25-27; Father and Son

Following the discussion about rejection by most of Israel, Jesus talks to his Father. I love the juxtaposition of “Father” and “Lord of heaven and earth”. The infinite but intimate God. Father of Jesus and Father of his brothers and sisters.

Some of the English translations use the work “thank” in this prayer, but “acknowledge” would be better. No doubt an element of thanksgiving and praise is included in that.

Reformed people have an easier time interpreting 25-26 than I do. They can just look at the fact that some accept the message and some reject it and chalk it up to God’s will. But if God controls the world in that way, I have a hard time understanding how sin came in the first place. Think on these things.

However you want to explain it, there is a theme throughout the Bible of the truth being hidden from the wise and smart people and made available to the simple people. I guess you could say that people who have things all figured out don’t need to listen to anything else.

Jesus is happy that his followers are salt of the earth people, not the people who already figured out the stuff that only God truly knows.

I also love the picture this gives us of the relationship between the Father and the Son. As with any relationship, words are not particularly good at explaining this one. The Father and the Son really know one another. Obviously, the way we know the Father is to listen to and follow and obey the Son.

I’m glad that I am simple-minded enough to accept that.

Matthew 11:20-24; Unrepentant Towns

Jesus continues on the theme of unreceptive people by pronouncing woes on some of the nearby towns of Galilee. These are really like OT lament passages. These towns are in a miserable situation, even if they do not know it.

Perhaps the three towns, Jesus’ HQ and two other towns nearby, are representative. Or perhaps they have had more exposure to Jesus and his message. Whatever the case, the towns have no excuse. It would be better for them if they hadn’t heard Jesus than to hear and ignore or reject.

Notice that Jesus does not condemn them for rejecting him. He points out, instead, that they have not repented. Despite seeing God at work, they have not turned.

There is no comfort here for the Christian. We still have a job to do to proclaim Jesus. If those towns where he lived did not listen, what should we expect today.

[Today is blood transfusion day for me. I have to get a couple hours earlier than usual, and my mind might not be working very well yet. Maybe I’ll think of some more things to say as the day goes one.]

Why I’m Not a Disciple-Maker and You Aren’t Either – Seedbed

Discipleship is not the wise teaching the unwise. It is not the mature teaching the immature. It is not the professionals teaching the amateurs. In fact, discipleship does not happen in power oriented relationships or in social contexts built on status oriented relationships. True Christian discipleship only happens in the midst of a community of people who prefer one another over themselves and who together learn to love one another with the very essence of the supernatural holy love of God. (see also 1 Corinthians 13)
— Read on

It is the feast day of St. Columba, who died on this date in AD 597. You might say he is the Scottish equivalent of St. Patrick in Ireland.

Matthew 11:16-19; This Generation

Up until this section, there hasn’t been a lot of information about people who opposed Jesus, or even those who ignore him. Now we get the impression that the majority of “this generation” are not on board with Jesus. Of course, we know that and see the same thing today.

Usually when Jesus tells a parable, he is giving us a glimpse into the way the Kingdom works. This time, he is showing more about the people than the Kingdom.

It’s difficult to say exactly what this parable is about, but essentially Jesus is saying “this generation” is spoiled and confused. It may be that they cannot get John to dance and they cannot get Jesus to mourn. Or it may be that John is saying, “Let’s play mourning”, while Jesus is offering the game of “wedding/dancing”, and nothing makes them happy. Either way, the message is really the same.

Craig Keener says it is a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation. They complain about John about one thing. They complain about Jesus for the opposite thing. Some people just like to complain. Isn’t that the truth.

At any rate, real wisdom shows up as good results. The proof is in the pudding. Jesus and John show true wisdom. The people are foolish to ignore them.

Matthew 11:7-15; How Does John Fit In?

After John’s disciples have left, Jesus talked more about John. He seems to like the fellow.

What John is Not

John is not a weak person, driven by public opinion. He is who he is. Neither is he a celebrity, famous for being famous, decked out in fine clothing. He is who he is.

John is a Prophet

John is the last in a long line of OT prophets. He gives out the message of God for no other reason but to please God and to serve God.

John is More than a Prophet

John is the messenger from Malachi 3 who prepares the way before God. He goes ahead. He’s the advance man. That can be a lonely position. No wonder John had questions.

John is Pivotal

John is at the junction of the old way and the new way. He is the harbinger of the Kingdom. He has a foot in both worlds.

Jesus says that the least in the Kingdom is greater than John. I don’t think that means that John is not in the Kingdom. Rather, it means that John will not get the opportunity to participate in the ministry of Jesus, because he is about to meet a violent death, just as Jesus will do the same.

There is a history of trying to force the God’s plan by way of violence. The Maccabees did it with the Hellenistic Syrians, and a variety of would-be messiahs tried to rally troops to throw off the Romans.

Jesus has a better way. The Way.

John is Elijah

Again from Malachi, Jesus says that John is the return of Elijah. The Kingdom has an eschatological component that people may not have expected. They need special ears to hear the message.