In Matthew 11:25-26 we see the expression, “you have hidden . . . and revealed.”
God is the one choosing those to whom he will reveal his truth. All human wisdom and learning is irrelevant to the question of knowing God (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and Matthew 11:21-24). God is revealing the truth to the humble and weak those who are willing to receive his word, the ordinary people. It is only through our Christian commitment to serve others and prayer can we form a relationship with God.
In Matthew 11:27, Jesus makes an extraordinary claim that God’s authority of all things has been given to Jesus. Jesus has an exclusive knowledge of the Father, and only the Father truly knows Jesus. His knowledge is thus equal to the Father’s, and his sonship is unique. Jesus authority extends even to deciding who will know the Father.
Jesus know God’s character because he had been with God from the beginning. (see John 1:1).
Tom Wright suggests that Jesus serves as a window through which we can see what God is really like. In Matthew 11:28-30, the Son has the authority to reveal God, he has the authority to invite people to himself. Because he is gentle and humble, Jesus extends his invitation first to the weary and burdened and secondarily to the strong and comfortable.
Today’s reading give us an insight into what it meant to be Jesus, the Son of God, walking the earth and trying to share the truth about his Father with the people of his day. And not just with any people: with God’s chosen people Israel, who had been learning about God’s ways for hundreds of years. Was Jesus surprised by their lack of interest in the message he brought? It seems that he was.
In verse 21 he reflects back on some of the cities in Galilee where he has been preaching and healing the sick. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes”. In other words, “If I did things like this among the pagan nations, they’d be turning to God by the thousands!”
The problem, of course, was that God’s people didn’t think they needed any help learning about God, and they certainly didn’t need it from Jesus. Who did he think he was, telling them about God? They’d been studying the Torah all their lives, and they knew all the explanations the rabbis had given down through the centuries applying each general law to specific situations. And then along comes Jesus, who they considered to be uneducated with a strong Galilean accent, and presumes to instruct them about God. They could not accept that someone they considered to have no learning could know more about God than them.
And I think they were snobs because Jesus was not one of them. Remember when Philip said to Nathanael, “come and see we have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote,” and Nathanael said “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
But Jesus’ knowledge of God came from a completely different source. Jesus had learned about God the way a son learns about his father – by living with him, Jesus came from the Fathers’ side. There are some things about a father that only a son can know. And so Jesus said these words in verse 27 which sound so arrogant and shocking and exclusive to us: “All 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”. The word for ‘handed over’ refers to the formal handing down of religious traditions from generation to generation. We would say, “The Anglican tradition has been handed down to us from our ancestors”. But Jesus speaks in a much more direct way: “I didn’t get it from my ancestors; I have received it from my Father in heaven”.
So there’s a paradox in these words of Jesus. On the one hand, there’s an exclusive claim Jesus makes: he has inside knowledge about God that no one else has ever had, before or since. But then immediately afterwards comes this wonderfully inclusive invitation: the Son has no interest in keeping his knowledge of the Father to himself. He wants to share it with everyone. He invites everyone to come to know God as he knows God, and so to find rest and release from the burdens they are carrying. And so he says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.28-30).
What Jesus is saying and he is especially speaking to the Jews of his day who’s religion had become a set of rules. Sometimes the religion we learned from the experts doesn’t take the load off our shoulders; rather, it increases it. Jesus says, that’s not what I’m offering you today. I’m offering you a relationship with God that can give you rest from the burdens religion has laid on your back’.
Bringing It Home.
This week we are particularly aware of our many worries. Especially at this time of the Covid 19 virus. When we are worried about our church, our families, our friends and our country and the worries go around our head in circles. If we become aware of what we are worrying about we need to pray , pray and give our worries to Jesus. Make a list of the heavy things we have been carrying and take some time to release them to God in prayer, trusting God to take care of us. Be careful not to take those things back from God and begin worrying about them again. Leave them in God’s loving hands. God is the one who has control of our lives.
Revd. Peta May