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November 14, 2023

Matthew Part 11

In today’s passage Jesus offers an open invitation to all who will “Come” to Him. We Baptists give an invitation at the end of each sermon because that is what Jesus frequently did.




Matthew 11:20-30

In today’s passage Jesus offers an open invitation to all who will “Come” to Him. We Baptists give an invitation at the end of each sermon because that is what Jesus frequently did.

So what was Jesus’ message? That question came up last week so to answer it let’s quickly review the bigger story of the Bible. God creates a physical world…He is pleased...He creates man in God’s image…Man is to rule over God’s creation and be His representative on earth…But man falls into sin, rebels against God…This produces both spiritual and physical death…God announces a plan to redeem sinful mankind…He will send a Man, “the seed of the woman,” a Promised One, who will redeem fallen humanity…This Redeemer will come thru the nation of Israel, a chosen people set apart by God…The O.T. prophets understood this Promised One in terms of Israel’s Messiah King who would come and deliver His people and be the Savior of the world.

In God’s perfect time the Promised One, the long awaited Messiah King, Jesus, the Son of God arrives…Matthew and the other gospel writers tell that Jesus is the Messiah King that was promised by God way back in Genesis and foretold by God’s prophets throughout the O.T. Jesus alone fulfilled all of the messianic prophecies. He was of the royal lineage of David so He has the right to rule as Israel’s king. An angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary his wife would bear a son, and they will call his name Jesus for “He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew records for us how Gentile kings from the east traveled thousands of miles just to worship this newborn king of the Jews. Even pagan Gentiles recognized there was something significant about this child. God miraculously protected Jesus from the wrath of King Herod, so that He could fulfill His divine mission to be the Savior of the world. A forerunner named John the Baptist announced that the Messiah King was coming soon. He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then Jesus showed up to be baptized. When He does John the Baptist affirms who He is by announcing, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” A voice from heaven, the voice of God said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Jesus proved that He is the Son of God by performing various miracles. He demonstrated the compassion of God by healing people. Great crowds followed Him throughout Galilee to see Him make the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, to cast out demons and to heal every sick person that is brought to Him. Jesus also preached with authority the message of the kingdom of heaven and how to get into the kingdom. He taught that there is a narrow gate of entry into the kingdom and it is by believing in Him, coming to Him, receiving Him --- not by one’s own righteousness or merit or works.

Listen to Jesus’ words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17); “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10); “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6); “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10); “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Even before He goes to the cross Jesus claims that He alone is the way to the Father, the way to heaven. He is the Savior, the great Shepherd. He says that He is the Son, sent by the will of His Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of sinful humanity. He is God in human flesh. He is Immanuel, “God with us.”

So then, how did the people of Galilee and Israel react to Jesus and His message? Was there mass repentance? Did the nation receive her Messiah?

Beginning in Matthew 11 we are shown several different reactions to Jesus by His people, by the nation of Israel, by the Jews. And it was not all favorable was it? For the most part He was rejected. “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” (John 1:11). Before we get to our focal passage let me give you a couple of different reactions to Jesus from the first part of Chapter 11…

First there is John the Baptist. He is a believer in Jesus. He recognizes who Jesus is – the Jewish Messiah, the Lamb of God. And yet He has some doubts, some questions, some concerns. So, while in prison, he sends some of his disciples to Jesus to confirm that He, Jesus is indeed the Promised One. Jesus responds to them by saying, “Go and tell John what you hear and see --- the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are raised up and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5) He (Jesus) fulfills what Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah (Isaiah 29:18-19 and 35:5-10). What Jesus basically tells John is this…”The proof of who I am is in what I say and in what I do. The evidence is all there!” I firmly believe that John the Baptist went to his death resting fully in faith that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah, the Son of God. John the Baptist represents all of those people who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, as the Savior, even if they do not fully understand everything and may even wrestle with some doubt.

All other reactions to Jesus, no matter how you want to describe them are, in essence, unbelief. So beginning in verse 7 and going thru verse 19 Jesus addresses those who respond to Him with criticism. Prophets, preachers, missionaries, and teachers can all attest to the fact that when they stand up and proclaim the truth, sooner or later they will have critics. Jesus certainly had His. On the one hand Jesus points to John the Baptist. Here you have a loner, a guy preaching out in the desert, dressed in camel’s hair, wearing a leather belt, and eating locusts and wild honey. He is a prophet who preaches God’s message of repentance to the people. And yet he was accused of having a demon – in other words they said he was crazy. On the other hand you have Jesus. Here’s a rabbi who comes along and He is completely different from John the Baptist in His ministry approach. Jesus socializes with people in their homes. He eats and drinks with the common man. He’s compassionate, a real people person. But He is criticized as well – “Look at him!” they say, “A glutton, a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Instead of heeding the message being preached like they should have, these people just nitpicked to death, finding any little fault they can with God’s messengers. Ultimately both John the Baptist and Jesus prove to be “spot on” with their message.

The next group we are going to look at are those who either outright reject Jesus message or are simply apathetic to it. Basically, they do nothing with it at all. By the way, the way God looks at it, ignoring the message and doing nothing with it is the same thing as rejecting it. The same result will take place. So let’s read beginning in verse 20…

READ Matthew 11:20-24.

Remember, that for a large part of Jesus public ministry He was in Galilee preaching in the synagogues. He was teaching about the kingdom of heaven out in the highways and byways among the people. And He was healing people right and left and He was performing all kinds of miracles. And although for a while He had a lot of people following Him to watch the show and to hear Him preach, for the most part He was ignored. By the end of His ministry He only has a handful of true followers. So here Jesus pronounces a woe – a woe is a message of judgment – upon three cities in Galilee. All three were Jewish cities (there were also Gentile cities in Galilee). All three were within close proximity to each other. Of the three we are most familiar with Capernaum because it was the city in Galilee where Jesus spent much of His time. He was in and out of Capernaum frequently. It was basically a headquarters for Jesus because it was where Peter and Andrew were from. The gospels record several of Jesus’ miracles there and that He taught in their synagogue. Bethsaida was where Philip was from and Jesus was there quite a bit also. We know that He healed a blind man there and it was near Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000 men. Many of the people who witnessed that miracle were probably from Bethsaida. We know little about Chorazin. The gospel writers don’t record anything specifically that Jesus did there. However, the very fact that it is judged by Jesus means that He must have done many mighty works there as well. All three cities were thriving in Jesus’ day. Today these places are uninhabited. All that remains are trees and ruins. As far as I am aware the tourists today in Israel only stop in Capernaum.

   Tyre and Sidon and Sodom – three wicked pagan cities, enemies of Israel and hostile to God are offered as a contrast to three Jewish cities in Galilee. Why is there greater judgment on Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin than on Tyre, Sidon and Sodom? Because they had been given a clearer revelation from God – God Himself in human flesh walking among them preaching repentance with authority and validating who He was by His many miracles. Those pagan cities did not have that. So God’s judgment will fall greater on those given more light and yet reject Him. Jesus called them to repent and they failed to obey Him. His message demanded a response and they ignored it.

For the rest of us there is hope. READ Matthew 11:25-27. In verse 25 Jesus says that God has revealed the truth of the Messiah and His gospel to “little children.” Later on in Matthew 18 Jesus would set a child in the midst of His disciples and say, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3) So what is Jesus talking about? Small children and babies are completely dependent on their parents. They have no hope or faith in their own resources. That’s how we must be when we come to God – “poor in spirit” as Jesus said in the Beatitudes. We are spiritually destitute, we have nothing, we bring nothing to the table; we are totally dependent upon God to save us. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3)

By contrast God has “hidden these things from the wise and understanding” – does that mean that smart people cannot get saved? No, this refers to those with intellectual pride, like the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is saying that we must not rely on our own human reasoning, wisdom, intellect, experience, or understanding when it comes to the things of God. It doesn’t matter what we think. All that matters is what God’s holy word says. God has revealed His truth and how we are to come to Him, how we are to be saved by His beloved Son, through His Holy Spirit and in His Word. There are a lot of so-called philosophers out there. Don’t listen to them.

Salvation comes from the sovereign revelation of God. The heart of our faith is that Jesus is God – “all things have been handed over to me by my Father.” “Only the Father knows Me and only I know the Father.” Only God knows God. And the only way we will ever understand God is as the Son chooses to reveal Him. Matthew 28:18 – “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me.”

Finally Jesus gives the invitation. It is an open invitation to all who will but believe. Yes you have the sovereignty of God in verses 25-27 but you also have an open invitation to respond in faith…

READ Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come unto ME” – coming to, believing in, receiving Jesus Christ. He is the object of our faith. Who are the weary and heavy laden? Again it goes back to the Beatitudes. Those who are burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and the weight of trying to keep the Law or live up to a certain standard of morality, trying to earn salvation by your own efforts. Jesus promises to give them rest from all of that. “Turn away from all that (repent) and come to Me.” The Jews understood “rest” to be at peace with God. Psalm 95 refers to rest as entering the promised land. The writer of Hebrews applied this passage to salvation.

“Take my yoke upon you.” Salvation is not being freed to do anything you want. Salvation is submission – you take the yoke of Jesus. Carry a load, receive instruction, obey the Master. Eph 2:10 says we were created in Christ Jesus for good works. Paul uses the analogy of slavery. We were slaves to sin, now we are slaves to Christ. Jesus is meek and gentle and won’t give you something you can’t handle.

“A humble heart, broken over despair of life and the weight of sin is touched by the sovereign grace of God as He reveals Christ. That individual repents of sin, turns in faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and his faith is shown to be genuine because he willingly submits his life in obedience to Christ’s Lordship. And the result is “I will give you rest.”

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Matthew 11:20-30

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