Matthew Chapter ★11: True faith is not without repentance. True repentance can only be realized through Jesus Christ.
What a heavy chapter. While reading it I am confronted with a very realistic and frankly terrifying reminder; it is much worse for the one who has knowledge and doesn’t repent, than for the one without knowledge. What will the one who knows nothing repent of? But the one who knows much must repent, if he doesn’t, he chooses sin. Thus: Knowledge without repentance is a curse.
This chapter serves to me as a warning against self righteousness. I am so very very prone to indulge in self righteousness. Even in posting my personal bible studies up on the internet I struggle not to write for men, but personal spiritual growth as worship to God alone. Jesus’ blasts the self righteous in this chapter but does not leave us hopeless. His compassion for the broken shines through at the end. It’s a good thing because by the end of this chapter, I am feeling pretty broken!
★11:2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepersa are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” This sets the pace for the overarching message I’ve received in this chapter this week. John’s disciples are unsure if Jesus is really the messiah. (Probably because his somewhat unexpected and seemingly scandalous social habits.) They’ve come to ask if he’s really the one. After Jesus gives them every traditional and culturally relevant reason why they could trust in him he puts those evidences in perspective. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me”, why does Jesus say that. As I’ve just said, and as I am going to find out in further depth during this chapter, Jesus has an important message to preach that is: If God’s plan isn’t unfolding to be what I had planned for/hoped in/believed for so long, am I going to go with His plan, or mine? Am I going to humbly admit that God’s plan is above my own, that even though it may seem as if God was taking a wrong turn, it is actually me. Will I, despite the seemingly scandalous, unorthodox, or ill-accepted appearance of God’s direction, continue to follow him and repent of my own self righteousness?
★11:7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? A manb dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet?c Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is he of whom it is written,“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,who will prepare your way before you.’ To further illustrate the principal Jesus uses sarcasm, saying “What have you been hoping for? You didn’t come out, all this way into the dessert to see a well dressed and proper spoken man of dignity did you? Maybe you had expected that God would chose such a dignified person as his prophet. But no, again your misguided pre-conceptions of what is righteous is a stumbling block. You did come out here to see a prophet! He is not what you had expected but he is a vital player in God’s plan.
✪ Yes I can see myself here. I know there are times when I have heard the word of God and simply dismissed it because it seemed to out of place in my life. God couldn’t possible mean that for me!? Rather than letting his message sink in, I erase it from my memory and move on. Oh God forgive me. Give me grace to hear your word and obey it without question.
★11:11-15 These verses are a mystery to me.
★11:16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”f Here Jesus compares his culture with fickle children, always unsatisfied and fussing over the superficial. It seems as if he is becoming frustrated with those around him listening, thinking to himself, ‘How long and hard do I need to preach this before you start doing it. It doesn’t matter how you hear the message, whether it be by John, or me, by the mouthpiece of God or by the hands performing wonders. It just doesn’t matter how the message comes because you’re all to busy fussing over the way it comes to even hear what is being said.
✪ How often in my life do I fuss over the method of the message rather than the message itself. God seems to have a liking for controversial methods and he says in 1 Cor 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise… Note to self: When seeking Godly wisdom/understanding/knowledge, be less concerned with the method it comes and more concerned with the message.
★11:20Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” This is really where the guillotine falls. This is really where the conviction hit hard. Why is it that Capernaum, the city Jesus lived in, (and likely epicentral of all signs and miracles in the day, and possible for all history) was in for more anguish on judgment day than Sodom & Gomorrah? Because they had seen more, they were given more evidence.
✪ This passage solidifies two very important facts for me. 1) Signs, miracles and wonders are not sufficient as an evidence of authentic faith. 2) Those who witness signs, miracles, and wonders that seem like they should be sufficient for imputing authentic faith will be judged according to the knowledge they have. The more you know – the more you are accountable for. The more you are given, the more responsible you are. Capernaum had tradition, signs, miracles and wonders, today we have history, signs, miracles, wonders, the bible and science. This is terrifying and deeply convicting. I can only conclude that I have been given more knowledge that I might be responsible for more, and ultimately more compelled in faith to respond to the things that have been reviled to me through the power of Christ and through the discernment of the Holy Spirit.
★11:25At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.g 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Thank you Lord for your mercy. All the things in this chapter pierce me to the heart. I see that I am just as, or more deserving of punishment as Capernaum. Oh God your mercy is my only hope. You grace is the only peace to my nightmarish punishment. What use are my words but that they reflect the humility made in me by the revelation of your glory. My prayer seems like nothing, but I speak only because I know that you are a merciful God, and that my only hope is in your mercy. The shed blood of your Son seems so unfair and disturbing, but I run to it and eagerly take cover. The perfect prince crucified is my only hope and I am confident in his triumph. Jesus is risen, and so am I. Oh God, restore to me the joy of your salvation and renew a right heart in me. Let me not walk the way of Capernaum but be changed, so that I am soaked through, with my only desire being to serve you. You humble me even in my prayer, and so it just goes to show – ALL MY HOPE IS IN YOU!
★11:28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” After blasting the self righteous, he speaks grace over the weak poor and simple. Jesus reminds us of who he is, what he came here to do, and who we are in him according to his great mercy! It’s a good thing because after being blasted by all that he has said – I am feeling pretty weak, poor, and simple.