Matthew 11

Happy Monday! It’s time to read Matthew 11.

This chapter drops some heavy truth on us. It starts with John, the greatest man ever born by natural means (v. 11). Despite his greatness, he experienced persecution. His outspoken condemnation of Herod’s marriage got him prison and ultimately death. In addition to that physical suffering, he apparently struggled (compare v. 3 and v. 6) with questions because the reality of Jesus’ ministry turned out to be different from John’s expectations about Jesus’ ministry. Jesus tenderly comforted John’s concerns (vv. 4-6), but then confronted the crowd about their wishy-washy acceptance of John’s message (vv. 7-19).

After the harsh words Jesus had for the crowds, he turned his attention to the towns who had witnessed his miracles and told them they would be punished for their unbelief after seeing his power (vv. 20-24). So, his words to those towns was harsh, too. Finally, Jesus prayed and thanked God for speaking to the humble in this world instead of the exalted and proud (vv. 25-26). Christ then commented that truth about God goes through him. You can’t know God at all apart from knowing Jesus because Jesus is the Son and revelation about God goes through him (v. 27).

All these are hard words. They were hard for John the Baptist, hard for those who rejected John’s message, hard for the towns who witnessed Jesus’ miracles but did not believe, and hard in general for a world that claims to want to know God. Every one of these things causes people to reject our faith and, in rejecting our faith, they fall under greater judgment by God.

So what do we do when God’s word is hard for us to take? When it assaults our pride or causes us to fear God’s judgment? We turn to Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (vv. 28-29). God’s word is difficult because we are sinners. It is impossible for us find God on our own, to believe God’s word on our own, and to obey God’s commands on our own. But Jesus promised rest to those who come to him. Given the context of this chapter, a big part of the meaning of “weary and burdened” seems to relate to our inability to know God on our own. When you find yourself resisting what God’s word says, struggling to believe God’s promises, or failing to keep God’s commands, your instinct will be to walk away from Christ but his invitation toward you is to come to him instead. When you come to him with your burdens, doubts, failures, frustrations, questions, concerns, or whatever, and place them before him in faith, you will find the rest he offers in verse 28. You will also find grace to bear up under the burden that you can’t carry yourself (v. 29).

Come to him.