Right after Matthew wraps up Jesus’ answer to John the
Baptist – “Yes I am the Messiah, have a look at all I’ve said and done so far.”
– he presents two short sections that make it abundantly clear that Jesus had
every reason to shift the focus of His Kingdom from Isreal to the World.
In Matthew 11:20-24 – Matthew reveals Kingdom Lost
In Matthew 11:25-30 – Matthew reveals Kingdom Gained
It a huge shift. From the Kingdom of failed expectations to
the Kingdom of God. It is a Kingdom Shift illustrated in the story of Jesus
entering the world that parallels the story of what happens in our lives when
The people expected the Messiah to punish the oppressor, eradicate
the corrupt. But instead, Jesus empowers the oppressed and encourages the
Matthew reveals Jesus’ Kingdom Shift by first focusing on
the ever present reality of God’s Judgment. The Kingdom of God is a careful
juxtaposition of God’s Law and God’s Love. One Bible Commentary says, “God’s
judgment is at the center of Jesus’ proclaimation of the Kingdom of God and
keeps it from becoming a message of harmless love.”
Matthew tells story after story – packed tightly – of Jesus
doing miracles in town after town and being received with apathy. Instead of
falling over backward when the King of the Universe returned His created people
to healthy body and mind (back into the ‘image of God’ in which they were
created) the people of Karazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum shrugged their
shoulders and said, “Yeah, that’s what healers do. Heal people. Blah blah blah.”
In Matthew 11:23 Jesus compares them to Satan falling from
Heaven when he drops some references to Isaiah 14:13-15 by saying, “Will you be
exalted to Heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead!”
(NLT) This short section – Matthew 11:20-24 – demonstrates why God’s Kingdom
was taken away from Isreal and given to those passing by the banquet feast.
Jesus shows that how we receive Him, His presence in our
lives and the changes He brings to the world will result in our connection or
disconnection from Him – judgment comes to those who ignore the Kingdom of God
as it moves across the surface of the deep bringing order from chaos. Jesus’
Kingdom is recreating the world by healing the broken, blessing the poor,
empowering the powerless. Behold, He is making all things new!
And this newness is built on the humble. In Matthew 11:25-30
we join Jesus for prayer. There are only a precious few of these moments in the
Gospels. When Jesus prays, we should be listening with a desperateness to
In this section we see Jesus shifting his focus from those
who deserve judgment to those who giddily go about the Kingdom’s business.
Jesus starts His prayer by thanking His Father for hiding his Kingdom from the “wise”
and revealing the Kingdom of God to the “childlike”. To demonstrate the
foundation of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought about, Jesus spins a reversal
of Daniel 2:20-23 where Daniel thanks God for giving wisdom to the wise. The
word Jesus uses for childlike is just as easily translated “simpleminded,
uneducated or stupid.” Jesus is praising His Father that the Kingdom has been
taken from those who believe themselves wise enough to grasp God’s ways and
given to those who hug it tight like a teddy bear and squeeze for all they are
As Jesus was walking around in the first century there was a
movement of ‘holy men’ called Essences who believed God came to people through
understanding. By being wise you could grasp God. Jesus used one of their
favourite verses as background for this prayer and then flipped it completely
upside down saying it pleases God to give His Truth to the ones in kindergarten
rather than those in the combined lesson pontificating knowledgeably on the
wise things of God.
Once Jesus finished is tiny prayer, he moves onto a
statement about His authority in the world. One commentator called Matthew
11:27 a revealing of “The entire mystery of Christ” while another said it was “the
most precious pearl” of Matthew’s Gospel. Why? Because within it we see into
the workings of the Trinity. Only God knows Jesus. Only Jesus knows God. Jesus
reveals God to those who He chooses. He has authority to do this because His
Father has given him authority over everything. It’s at once cryptic, creative
Finally in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus presents a Rabbi’s call.
In Jewish circles – particularly the circles of the religious – a leader’s “yoke”
always referred to his way of approaching the Law of God. When a Rabbi invited
others to “settle in next to me under my yoke” he was saying, “Come join me,
think like me, act like me and become like me.”
In the previous verses (Matthew 11:20-28) which we have just
explored, Jesus revealed his yoke. His interpretation of God’s Law calls down
judgment on those who expect the Kingdom but do not embrace it when it arrives,
it empowers the simpleminded with the wisdom of the Kingdom and it is built on
Jesus’ deep connection to His Father and His teaching to those who are under
his yoke – to whom he reveals God.
A Rabbi only called followers after a long training period.
Once he knew these were the best of the best he would say to a select one or
two – follow me and I will teach you my yoke. Jesus throws this completely on
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry
heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach
you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For
my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Wow. I hope you see it. Jesus has opened the Kingdom of God
to the highways and byways. The spiritually rich and famous have made their
excuses and are not attending the Father’s Kingdom Party for His Son. The
servants of God (like Matthew in writing this Gospel) are calling out to those
struggling to take the next step – spiritually and physically – and promising
them rest in Jesus. He will take the burden of feeling ‘less-than’ off your
shoulders and give you rest. He will teach you gently and humbly. You will find
rest for your very soul.
Jesus’ yoke is a perfect fit and the study load is light.
Because He bears it all. You know all you need to know when you know Him. The
rest – and you will want the rest – is just icing on the cake.
Come one, come all. Bring your brokenness, your
unworthiness, your simpleness – and celebrate life under the yoke of one who
has been broken, felt unworthy and lived the simple life.