Matthew Chapter Eleven
From that hour we find the definitive judgment of the nation, not indeed as yet openly declared (that is in chapter 12), nor by the cessation of Christ's ministry, which wrought, notwithstanding the opposition of the nation, in gathering out the remnant, and in the still more important effect of the manifestation of Emmanuel; but it is unfolded in the character of His discourses, in the positive declarations which describe the condition of the people, and in the Lord's conduct amid circumstances which gave rise to the expression of the relations in which He stood towards them.
Having sent His disciples away to preach, He continues the exercise of His own ministry. The report of the works of Christ reaches John in prison. He, in whose heart, notwithstanding his prophetic gift, there still remained something of Jewish thoughts and hopes, sends by his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One who should come, or if they were still to look for another.  God allowed this question in order to put everything in its place. Christ, being the Word of God ought to be His own witness. He ought to bear testimony to Himself as well as to John, and not to receive testimony from the latter; and this He did in the presence of John's disciples He healed all the diseases of men, and preached the gospel to the poor; and John's messengers were to set before him this true testimony of what Jesus was. John was to receive it. It was by these things men were tested. Blessed was he who should not be offended at the lowly exterior of the King of Israel. God manifest in the flesh did not come to seek the pomp of royalty, although it was His due, but the deliverance of suffering men. His work revealed a character much more profoundly divine, which had a spring of action far more glorious than that which depended on the possession of the throne of avid-than a deliverance which would have set John at liberty, and put an end to the tyranny that had imprisoned him.
To undertake this ministry, to go down into the scene of its exercise, to bear the sorrows and the burdens of His people might be an occasion of stumbling to a carnal heart that was looking for the appearance of a glorious kingdom which would satisfy the pride of Israel. But was it not more truly divine more necessary to the condition of the people as seen of God? The heart of each one therefore would be thus tested, to shew whether he belonged to that repentant remnant, who discerned the ways of God, or to the proud multitude, who only sought their own glory, possessing neither a conscience exercised before God, nor a sense of their need and misery.
Having set John under the responsibility of receiving this testimony, which put all Israel to the test, and distinguished the remnant from the nation in general, the Lord then bears witness to John himself, addressing the multitude, and reminding them how they had followed the preaching of John. He shews them the exact point to which Israel had come in the ways of God. The introduction, in testimony, of the kingdom made the difference between that which preceded and that which followed. Among all that are born of women there had been none greater than John the Baptist, none who had been so near Jehovah, sent before His face, none who had rendered Him a more exact and complete testimony, who had been so separate from all evil by the power of the Spirit of God-a separation proper to the fulfilment of such a mission among the people of God. Still he had not been in the kingdom: it was not yet established; and to be in the presence of Christ in His kingdom, enjoying the result of the establishment of His glory,  was a greater thing than all testimony to the coming of the kingdom.
Nevertheless from the time of John the Baptist there was a notable change. From that time the kingdom was announced. It was not established, but it was preached. This was a very different thing from the prophecies that spoke of the kingdom for a yet distant period, while recalling the people to the law as given by Moses. The Baptist went before the King, announcing the nearness of the kingdom, and commanding the Jews to repent that they might enter into it; Thus the law and the prophets spake on God's part until John. The law was the rule; the prophets, maintaining the rule, strengthened the hopes and the faith of the remnant. Now, the energy of the Spirit impelled men to force their way through every difficulty and all the opposition of the leaders of the nation and of a blinded people, that they might at all costs attain the kingdom of a King rejected by the blind unbelief of those who should have received Him. It needed-seeing that the King had come in humiliation, and that He had been rejected-it needed this violence to enter the kingdom. The strait gate was the only entrance.
If faith could really penetrate the mind of God therein, John was the Elias who should come. He that had ears to hear, let him hear. It was in fact for those only.
Had the kingdom appeared in the glory and in the power of its Head, violence would not have been necessary; it would have been possessed as the certain effect of that power; but it was the will of God that they should morally be tested It was thus also that they ought to have received Elias in spirit.
The result is given in the Lord's words which follow, that is, the true character of this generation, and the ways of God in relation to the Person of Jesus, manifested by His rejection itself. As a generation the threatenings of justice, and the attractions of grace were equally lost upon them. The children of wisdom, those whose consciences were taught of God, acknowledged the truth of John's testimony, as against themselves, and the grace, so necessary to the guilty, of the ways of Jesus.
John, separate from the iniquity of the nation, had, in their eyes, a devil. Jesus, kind to the most wretched, they accused of falling in with evil ways. Yet the evidence was powerful enough to have subdued the heart of a Tyre or Sodom; and the righteous rebuke of the Lord warns the perverse and unbelieving nation of a more terrible judgment than that which awaited the pride of Tyre or the corruption of Sodom.
But this was a test for the most favoured of mankind. It might have been said, Why was the message not sent to Tyre, ready to hearken? Why not to Sodom, that that city might have escaped the fire that consumed it? It is that man must be tested in every way; that the perfect counsels of God may be developed. If Tyre or Sodom had abused the advantages which a God of creation and of providence had heaped upon them, the Jews were to manifest what was in the heart of man, when possessing all the promises and made the depositaries of all the oracles of God.
They boasted of the gift, and departed from the Giver. Their blinded heart acknowledged not and even rejected their God.
The Lord felt the contempt of His people whom He loved; but, as the obedient man on earth, He submitted to the will of His Father, who, acting in sovereignty, the Lord of heaven and earth, manifested, in the exercise of this sovereignty, divine wisdom, and the perfection of His character. Jesus accepts the will of His Father in its effects, and, thus subject, sees its perfection.
It was befitting that God should reveal to the lowly all the gifts of His grace in Jesus, this Emmanuel on earth; and that He should hide them from the pride that sought to scrutinise and to judge them. But this opens the door to the glory of God's counsels in it.
The truth was, that His Person was too glorious to be fathomed or understood by man, although His words and His works left the nation without excuse, in their refusal to come unto Him that they might know the Father.
Jesus, subject to His Father's will, although thoroughly sensible of all that was painful to His heart in its effects, sees the whole extent of the glory that should follow His rejection. All things were delivered unto Him of His Father. It is the Son who is revealed to our faith, the veil that covered His glory being taken away now that He is rejected as Messiah. No one knoweth Him but the Father. Who among the proud could fathom what He was? He who from all eternity was one with the Father, become man, surpassed, in the deep mystery of His being, all knowledge save that of the Father Himself. The impossibility of knowing Him who had emptied Himself to become man, maintained the certainty, the reality, of His divinity, which this self-renunciation might have hidden from the eyes of unbelief. The incomprehensibility of a being in a finite form revealed the infinite which was therein. His divinity was guaranteed to faith, against the effect of His humanity on the mind of man. But if no one knew the Son, except the Father only, the Son, who is truly God, was able to reveal the Father. No man has ever seen God. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed Him. No one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. Wretched ignorance that in its pride rejects Him! It was thus according to the good pleasure of the Son that this revelation was made. Distinctive attribute of divine perfection! He came for this purpose; He did it according to His own wisdom. Such was the truth of man's relations with Him, although He submitted to the painful humiliation of being rejected by His own people, as the final test of their, of man's state.
Observe also here, that this principle, this truth, with regard to Christ, opens the door to the Gentiles, to all who should be called. He reveals the Father to whomsoever He will. He always seeks the glory of His Father. He alone can reveal Him-He to whomthe Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, has delivered all things; The Gentiles are included in the rights conferred by this title, even every family in heaven and earth. Christ exercises these rights in grace, calling whom He will to the knowledge of the Father.
Thus we find here the perverse and faithless generation; a remnant of the nation justifying the wisdom of God as manifested in John and in Jesus in judgment and in grace; the sentence of judgment on the unbelievers; the rejection of Jesus in the character in which He had presented Himself to the nation; and His perfect submission, as man, to the will of His Father in this rejection, giving occasion for the manifestation to His soul of the glory proper to Him as Son of God-a glory which no man could know, even as He alone could reveal that of the Father. So that the world who refused Him was in total ignorance, save at the good pleasure of Him who delights in revealing the Father.
We should also remark here, that the mission of the disciples to Israel who rejected Christ continues (if Israel be in the land) until He comes as the Son of man, His title of judgment and of glory as heir of all things (that is to say, until the judgment by which He takes possession of the land of Canaan, in a power that leaves no room for His enemies). This, His title of judgment and glory as heir of all things, is mentioned in John 5, Daniel 7, Psalms 8 and 80.
Observe too, that in chapter 11, the perverseness of the generation that had rejected John's testimony, and that of the Son of man come in grace and associating Himself in grace with the Jews, opens the door to the testimony of the glory of the Son of God, and to the revelation of the Father by Him in sovereign grace-a grace that could make Him known as efficaciously to a poor Gentile as to a Jew. It was no longer a question of responsibility to receive, but of sovereign grace that imparted to whomsoever it would. Jesus knew man, the world, the generation which had enjoyed the greatest advantages of all that were in the world. There was no place for the foot to rest on in the miry slough of that which had departed from God. In the midst of a world of evil Jesus remained the sole revealer of the Father, the source of all good. Whom does He call? What does He bestow on those who come? Only source of blessing and revealer of the Father, He calls all those who are weary and heavy laden. Perhaps they did not know the spring of all misery, namely, separation from God, sin. He knew, and He alone could heal them. If it was the sense of sin which burdened them, so much the better. Every way the world no longer satisfied their hearts; they were miserable, and therefore the objects of the heart of Jesus. Moreover He would give them rest; He does not here explain by what means; He simply announces the fact. The love of the Father, which in grace, in the Person of the Son, sought out the wretched, would bestow rest (not merely alleviation or sympathy, but rest) on every one that came to Jesus. It was the perfect revelation of the Father's name to the heart of those that needed it; and that by the Son;-peace, peace with God. They had but to come to Christ: He undertook all and gave rest. But there is a second element in rest. There is more than peace through the knowledge of the Father in Jesus. And more than that is needed; for, even when the soul is perfectly at peace with God, this world presents many causes of trouble to the heart. In these cases it is a question of submission or of self-will. Christ, in the consciousness of His rejection, in the deep sorrow caused by the unbelief of the cities in which He had wrought so many miracles, had just manifested the most entire submission to His Father, and had found therein perfect rest to His soul. To this He calls all that heard Him, all that felt the need of rest to their own souls. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me," that is to say, the yoke of entire submission to His Father's will, learning of Him how to meet the troubles of life; for He was "meek and lowly in heart," contentto be in the lowest place at the will of His God. In fact nothing can overthrow one who is there. It is the place of perfect rest to the heart.
 His sending to Jesus shews full confidence in His word as a prophet but ignorance as to His Person; and this is what is brought out here in its full light.
 This is not God's assembly; but the rights of the King as manifested in glory being established, the foundation being laid, Christians are in the kingdom and the patience of Jesus Christ, who is glorified but hidden in God. They share the destiny of the King, and will share His glory when He reigns.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Matthew》
Christ's preaching. (1) Christ's answer to John's disciples. (2-6) Christ's testimony to John the Baptist. (7-15) The perverseness of the Jews. (16-24) The gospel revealed to the simple. The heavy-laden invited. (25-30)
Commentary on Matthew 11:1
(Read Matthew 11:1)
Our Divine Redeemer never was weary of his labour of love; and we should not be weary of well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Commentary on Matthew 11:2-6
(Read Matthew 11:2-6)
Some think that John sent this inquiry for his own satisfaction. Where there is true faith, yet there may be a mixture of unbelief. The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation; call in question the most important truths. But we hope that John's faith did not fail in this matter, and that he only desired to have it strengthened and confirmed. Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ for their satisfaction. Christ points them to what they heard and saw. Christ's gracious condescensions and compassions to the poor, show that it was he that should bring to the world the tender mercies of our God. Those things which men see and hear, if compared with the Scriptures, direct in what way salvation is to be found. It is difficult to conquer prejudices, and dangerous not to conquer them; but those who believe in Christ, their faith will be found so much the more to praise, and honour, and glory.
Commentary on Matthew 11:7-15
(Read Matthew 11:7-15)
What Christ said concerning John, was not only for his praise, but for the people's profit. Those who attend on the word will be called to give an account of their improvements. Do we think when the sermon is done, the care is over? No, then the greatest of the care begins. John was a self-denying man, dead to all the pomps of the world and the pleasures of sense. It becomes people, in all their appearances, to be consistent with their character and their situation. John was a great and good man, yet not perfect; therefore he came short of glorified saints. The least in heaven knows more, loves more, and does more in praising God, and receives more from him, than the greatest in this world. But by the kingdom of heaven here, is rather to be understood the kingdom of grace, the gospel dispensation in its power and purity. What reason we have to be thankful that our lot is cast in the days of the kingdom of heaven, under such advantages of light and love! Multitudes were wrought upon by the ministry of John, and became his disciples. And those strove for a place in this kingdom, that one would think had no right nor title to it, and so seemed to be intruders. It shows us what fervency and zeal are required of all. Self must be denied; the bent, the frame and temper of the mind must be altered. Those who will have an interest in the great salvation, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing. The things of God are of great and common concern. God requires no more from us than the right use of the faculties he has given us. People are ignorant, because they will not learn.
Commentary on Matthew 11:16-24
(Read Matthew 11:16-24)
Christ reflects on the scribes and Pharisees, who had a proud conceit of themselves. He likens their behaviour to children's play, who being out of temper without reason, quarrel with all the attempts of their fellows to please them, or to get them to join in the plays for which they used to assemble. The cavils of worldly men are often very trifling and show great malice. Something they have to urge against every one, however excellent and holy. Christ, who was undefiled, and separate from sinners, is here represented as in league with them, and polluted by them. The most unspotted innocence will not always be a defence against reproach. Christ knew that the hearts of the Jews were more bitter and hardened against his miracles and doctrines, than those of Tyre and Sidon would have been; therefore their condemnation would be the greater. The Lord exercises his almighty power, yet he punishes none more than they deserve, and never withholds the knowledge of the truth from those who long after it.
Commentary on Matthew 11:25-30
(Read Matthew 11:25-30)
It becomes children to be grateful. When we come to God as a Father, we must remember that he is Lord of heaven and earth, which obliges us to come to him with reverence as to the sovereign Lord of all; yet with confidence, as one able to defend us from evil, and to supply us with all good. Our blessed Lord added a remarkable declaration, that the Father had delivered into his hands all power, authority, and judgment. We are indebted to Christ for all the revelation we have of God the Father's will and love, ever since Adam sinned. Our Saviour has invited all that labour and are heavy-laden, to come unto him. In some senses all men are so. Worldly men burden themselves with fruitless cares for wealth and honours; the gay and the sensual labour in pursuit of pleasures; the slave of Satan and his own lusts, is the merest drudge on earth. Those who labour to establish their own righteousness also labour in vain. The convinced sinner is heavy-laden with guilt and terror; and the tempted and afflicted believer has labours and burdens. Christ invites all to come to him for rest to their souls. He alone gives this invitation; men come to him, when, feeling their guilt and misery, and believing his love and power to help, they seek him in fervent prayer. Thus it is the duty and interest of weary and heavy-laden sinners, to come to Jesus Christ. This is the gospel call; Whoever will, let him come. All who thus come will receive rest as Christ's gift, and obtain peace and comfort in their hearts. But in coming to him they must take his yoke, and submit to his authority. They must learn of him all things, as to their comfort and obedience. He accepts the willing servant, however imperfect the services. Here we may find rest for our souls, and here only. Nor need we fear his yoke. His commandments are holy, just, and good. It requires self-denial, and exposes to difficulties, but this is abundantly repaid, even in this world, by inward peace and joy. It is a yoke that is lined with love. So powerful are the assistances he gives us, so suitable the encouragements, and so strong the consolations to be found in the way of duty, that we may truly say, it is a yoke of pleasantness. The way of duty is the way of rest. The truths Christ teaches are such as we may venture our souls upon. Such is the Redeemer's mercy; and why should the labouring and burdened sinner seek for rest from any other quarter? Let us come to him daily, for deliverance from wrath and guilt, from sin and Satan, from all our cares, fears, and sorrows. But forced obedience, far from being easy and light, is a heavy burden. In vain do we draw near to Jesus with our lips, while the heart is far from him. Then come to Jesus to find rest for your souls.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Matthew》
 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
He sent two of his disciples — Not because he doubted himself; but to confirm their faith. Luke 7:18.
 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
He that is to come — The Messiah.
 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
Go and tell John the things that ye hear and see — Which are a stronger proof of my being the Messiah, than any bare assertion can be.
 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Happy is he who shall not be offended at me — Notwithstanding all these proofs that I am the Messiah.
 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
As they departed, he said concerning John — Of whom probably he would not have said so much when they were present.
A reed shaken by the wind? — No; nothing could ever shake John in the testimony he gave to the truth. The expression is proverbial.
 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
A man clothed in soft, delicate raiment — An effeminate courtier, accustomed to fawning and flattery? You may expect to find persons of such a character in palaces; not in a wilderness.
 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
More than a prophet — For the prophets only pointed me out afar off; but John was my immediate forerunner.
 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he — Which an ancient author explains thus:-"One perfect in the law, as John was, is inferior to one who is baptized into the death of Christ. For this is the kingdom of heaven, even to be buried with Christ, and to be raised up together with him. John was greater than all who had been then born of women, but he was cut off before the kingdom of heaven was given." [He seems to mean, that righteousness, peace, and joy, which constitute the present inward kingdom of heaven.] "He was blameless as to that righteousness which is by the law; but he fell short of those who are perfected by the spirit of life which is in Christ. Whosoever, therefore, is least in the kingdom of heaven, by Christian regeneration, is greater than any who has attained only the righteousness of the law, because the law maketh nothing perfect." It may farther mean, the least true Christian believer has a more perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ, of his redemption and kingdom, than John the Baptist had, who died before the full manifestation of the Gospel.
 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
And from the days of John — That is, from the time that John had fulfilled his ministry, men rush into my kingdom with a violence like that of those who are taking a city by storm.
 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John — For all that is written in the law and the prophets only foretold as distant what is now fulfilled. In John the old dispensation expired, and the new began. Luke 16:16.
 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear — A kind of proverbial expression; requiring the deepest attention to what is spoken.
 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
This generation — That is, the men of this age. They are like those froward children of whom their fellows complain, that they will be pleased no way.
 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
John came neither eating nor drinking — In a rigorous austere way, like Elijah.
And they say, He hath a devil — Is melancholy, from the influence of an evil spirit.
 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
The Son of man came eating and drinking — Conversing in a free, familiar way.
Wisdom is justified by her children — That is, my wisdom herein is acknowledged by those who are truly wise.
 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Then began he to upbraid the cities — It is observable he had never upbraided them before. Indeed at first they received him with all gladness, Capernaum in particular.
 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Wo to thee, Chorazin — That is, miserable art thou. For these are not curses or imprecations, as has been commonly supposed; but a solemn, compassionate declaration of the misery they were bringing on themselves. Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities of Galilee, standing by the lake Gennesareth. Tyre and Sidon were cities of Phenicia, lying on the sea shore. The inhabitants of them were heathens. Luke 10:13. 22, 24.
Moreover I say unto you — Beside the general denunciation of wo to those stubborn unbelievers, the degree of their misery will be greater than even that of Tyre and Sidon, yea, of Sodom.
 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Thou Capernaum, who hast been exalted to heaven — That is, highly honoured by my presence and miracles.
 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Jesus answering — This word does not always imply, that something had been spoken, to which an answer is now made. It often means no more than the speaking in reference to some action or circumstance preceding. The following words Christ speaks in reference to the case of the cities above mentioned: I thank thee - That is, I acknowledge and joyfully adore the justice and mercy of thy dispensations: Because thou hast hid - That is, because thou hast suffered these things to be hid from men, who are in other respects wise and prudent, while thou hast discovered them to those of the weakest understanding, to them who are only wise to Godward. Luke 10:21.
 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
All things are delivered to me — Our Lord, here addressing himself to his disciples, shows why men, wise in other things, do not know this: namely, because none can know it by natural reason: none but those to whom he revealeth it.
 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Come to me — Here he shows to whom he is pleased to reveal these things to the weary and heavy laden; ye that labour - After rest in God: and are heavy laden - With the guilt and power of sin: and I will give you rest - I alone (for none else can) will freely give you (what ye cannot purchase) rest from the guilt of sin by justification, and from the power of sin by sanctification.
 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Take my yoke upon you — Believe in me: receive me as your prophet, priest, and king.
For I am meek and lowly in heart — Meek toward all men, lowly toward God: and ye shall find rest - Whoever therefore does not find rest of soul, is not meek and lowly. The fault is not in the yoke of Christ: but in thee, who hast not taken it upon thee. Nor is it possible for any one to be discontented, but through want of meekness or lowliness.
 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
For my yoke is easy — Or rather gracious, sweet, benign, delightful: and my burden - Contrary to those of men, is ease, liberty, and honour.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Matthew》
The “yoke” Jesus refers to in Matthew 11:29~30 is well illustrated by the process of training a young bullock to plow. In some parts of the world, the farmer will have the young bullock harnessed to the same yoke as a mature ox. The bullock, dwarfed by the other animal, will not even be pulling any of the weight. It is merely learning to walk in a field under control and with a yoke around its neck, the ox pulls all the weight. It is the same when a believer takes Christ’s yoke. As the Christian learns, the yoke is easy and the burden light.
Chapter 11. The King Rejected
I. John Sends His Disciples to Ask the Lord
II. Follow the Example of John
III. Rebuke Unrepentant Cities
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Greater Than John The Baptist? (11:11)
1. At the height of His earthly ministry, Jesus was approached by two
disciples of John the Baptist - Mt 11:1-6
a. John was in prison, and had sent the two disciples to Jesus
b. Perhaps troubled by his own imprisonment, he wanted affirmation
that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Coming One
c. Jesus pointed to His works, and spoke of the blessedness of those
not offended because of Him
2. Jesus used this opportunity to tell the multitudes about John the
Baptist - Mt 11:7-10
a. That he was not some easily shaken reed or man in soft clothing,
but a prophet
b. Indeed, he was the prophet foretold by Isaiah and Malachi - Isa
40:3; Mal 3:1; 4:5
3. But then Jesus made two remarkable statements - Mt 11:11
a. First, that no one had been greater than John the Baptist
b. Second, that one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater
4. It is the second statement that has perplexed many...
a. For the kingdom of heaven is the church that was about to be
b. And in the church there are many people who do not seem to
measure up to a man like John the Baptist!
-- How can any of us be greater than he?
[When we know the answer, it should fill us with humility and
gratitude, and encourage us to greater dedication in our service to the
Lord. Before we consider the answer, let's review...]
I. THE GREATNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
A. HE WAS GREAT AS A MAN...
1. Enduring a life of austerity, with voluntary simplicity
- Lk 1:80; Mt 3:4
2. He showed courage before king Herod, condemning his unlawful
marriage - Mt 14:3-4
3. He possessed humility, showing deference at the height of his
own ministry to a New Comer - Jn 1:19-37; 3:22-30
B. HE WAS GREAT AS A PROPHET...
1. His influence brought people throughout
Judeainto the desert
- Mt 3:1-2,5
2. They were moved to be baptized and confess their sins - Mt 6:6
3. Yet He did not weaken his message to accommodate his audience
- Mt 6:7-8
C. HE WAS GREAT IN PREPARING THE WAY FOR CHRIST...
1. Such was his particular mission - Mt 3:3; 11:9-10
2. And when Jesus came, he pointed people to Him - Jn 1:29,34-36;
a. "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
b. "I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
c. "He must increase, but I must decrease."
d. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life..."
[In light of his mission, and the faithful manner in which he carried
it out, no one had arisen greater than John (not even Moses, Elijah,
etc., though they might be consider "as great as" John).
But again, Jesus says that the least in the kingdom is "greater" than
John. How can that be...?]
II. THE GREATNESS OF THOSE IN THE KINGDOM
A. WE ENJOY GREATER KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST...
1. John's limited knowledge of Christ is implied by his question
- Mt 11:2-3
a. He had not seen what Jesus' disciples had seen
b. He had not heard what Jesus' disciples had heard - cf. Mt
2. Through the further teaching of Christ and His apostles...
a. We know the wonderful story of the cross!
b. We know the nature of the kingdom, its establishment, its
c. We know "many things" which even Jesus Himself had not
taught His apostles until after the Holy Spirit was sent!
- cf. Jn 16:12-13
-- Even "he who is least in the kingdom" knows things about Jesus
and His church that John did not know!
B. WE ENJOY A GREATER STATION IN THIS LIFE...
1. John was not in the kingdom of heaven (or church) during his
a. He proclaimed it was "at hand" - Mt 3:1-2
b. Jesus and His apostles were still preaching it as being
"at hand" - Mt 10:7
c. Jesus would later speak of building His church - Mt 16:18
2. But with the establishment of the church, those who are in
a. Have been translated into the
's Son - Co kingdomof God
1:13; cf. Re 1:9
b. Have been made a royal priesthood and holy nation - 1 Pe
-- John lived under the Old Covenant; even "he who is least in
the kingdom" lives under the New Covenant with its better
sacrifice, hope, and promises - He 7:9; 8:6
C. WE ENJOY GREATER PRIVILEGES...
1. John certainly enjoyed wonderful privileges
a. He was filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb - Lk
b. Who certainly helped him fulfill his mission
2. But Jesus offers things which John did not have; e.g...
a. A gift (or measure) of the Spirit that was not given until
after Jesus was glorified - Jn 7:37-39
1) Something other than inspiration or miraculous powers,
for many had enjoyed that before Jesus was glorified
(ascended to heaven)
2) Because of the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost,
all who are saved have experienced "the washing of
regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" - Ti 3:5-7
3) John was born of woman, but those in the kingdom are
"born of the Spirit"! - cf. Jn 3:5
a) We therefore receive "the gift of the Spirit" - Ac
b) A gift that helps deliver one from the power of sin
- cf. Ro 8:11-13
c) A gift not enjoyed by those under the Old Covenant
- cf. Ro 7:14-8:4
b. The fellowship of the church, the body of Christ - Ro 12:5
1) Remember that John spent his life in the desert, and
then in prison
2) He did not enjoy the blessings of fellowship available
to the "least" in the kingdom
3) As promised by Jesus, we have a "hundred-fold" family
members in this life, something John never had - Mk 10:
-- Many other privileges peculiar to the New Covenant could be
mentioned, all of which are enjoyed today by "he who is
least in the kingdom"!
1. In at least three ways, then, we are "greater" than John the
a. In our knowledge of Jesus Christ
b. In our station of life by being in Christ
c. In our privileges offered by Jesus Christ
2. As per J. W. McGarvey: "We find from this passage that all true
greatness arises from association, relation and contact with Jesus
Christ" (The Fourfold Gospel)
a. As the forerunner of Christ, John was as great as any other
teacher, prophet, priest, lawgiver, and king
b. As the beneficiaries of Christ, even the least of those in His
kingdom are greater than he
3. Should this not fill us with humility, gratitude, and a desire to
a. That Jesus would bestow such great blessings upon us?
b. That we ought to be more dedicated in our service to Christ?
1) Producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives
2) Nurturing and enjoying the fellowship of the family of God
3) Proclaiming the gospel of Christ and the kingdom in its
If John was so faithful in that which is less, should we not be more
diligent when we have that which is more?
"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be
required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they
will ask the more." (Lk 12:48)
The Savior's Tender Invitation (11:28-30)
1. In the text for our study today, we find a wonderful invitation
extended by Jesus...
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle
and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My
yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
2. From heaven Jesus still offers this tender invitation; but do we
really understand and appreciate...
a. To whom Jesus extends this invitation?
b. What He offers to those who will accept it?
c. What He expects from those who desire to respond?
d. The true ease of accepting this invitation?
[These are some of the questions we shall consider as we examine what
has been called "The Savior's Tender Invitation"...]
I. TO WHOM DOES JESUS EXTEND THIS INVITATION?
A. "ALL YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN..."
1. To those who are burdened by sin
a. A burden which separates one from God - cf. Isa 59:1-2
b. A burden with terrible side effects
1) A lack of inner peace - Isa 48:22
2) Instead, one is burdened with anxiety, depression, fear
3) And rightly so, in view of the ultimate consequence of
sin (spiritual death) - Ro 6:
2. This invitation, then, is really for everyone!
a. For all are sinners! - Ro 3:23,10
b. And as such are in bondage to sin and its heavy burden
- Jn 8:34
B. SADLY, MANY ARE TOO PROUD TO ADMIT THEIR BURDEN...
1. That they are sinners
2. That they are enslaved by sin and its burden
3. That they need Divine help to freed from the burden of sin
[If you are not too proud to face the fact that you are a sinner and
need Divine help, then "The Savior's Tender Invitation" is especially
designed for you! But perhaps you wonder...]
II. WHAT IS JESUS OFFERING?
A. "I WILL GIVE YOU REST...YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS"
1. Jesus is offering rest for our souls!
2. Souls which have been burdened by:
a. The guilt of sin, which separates from God (i.e., legal
b. The side effects of sin, such as anxiety, depression, fear
and doubt (i.e., emotional guilt)
B. JESUS OFFERS REST...
1. Which includes a removal of the guilt of sin!
a. For by God's own love and grace, forgiveness of sin is now
possible through Jesus - cf. Ro 5:8-9; 1 Jn 4:10; Ep 1:7
b. Through His own blood, Jesus frees us from the condemnation
of sin - Ro 8:1
2. Which includes a removal of the side effects of sin!
a. To have true rest for our souls, we need more than just
1) For even those forgiven may be plagued by the side
effects of sin
2) Having lived so long under the burden of sin, it may not
be easy to lay aside those feelings which often
accompany sin (e.g., anxiety, fear, doubt)
b. Jesus certainly provides what our souls need...
1) To remove anxiety, Jesus offers peace to calm the
a) A peace unlike any that the world might give - Jn 14:
b) A peace stronger than any tribulation the world might
bring - Jn 16:33
c) A peace which guards our hearts and minds, and
"surpasses all understanding" - Ph 4:7
2) To remove depression, Jesus offers joy to lift our
a) The same joy Jesus Himself had - Jn 15:11
b) A joy later described as "inexpressible" - 1 Pe 1:8
3) To remove fear, Jesus offers love which casts out fear
- 1 Jn 4:18
a) The same love which exists between the Father and the
Son - Jn 15:9
b) A love which "passes knowledge" - Ep 3:19
4) To remove doubt, Jesus offers hope for facing the future
a) By assuring us of eternal life - Jn 11:25
b) By promising eternal rest to those who die in the
Lord - Re 14:13
[I have not exhausted all that pertains to the wonderful rest Jesus
offers, but it is...
* A rest from the burden of sin's guilt, and a rest from the burden
of sin's side effects!
* A rest for our burdened souls now, and eternal rest for our souls
when we die!
Incidentally, even physical burdens are made lighter by coming to
Jesus, because the soul is made stronger to bear them! This sounds
III. WHAT DOES JESUS EXPECT OF THOSE WHO WISH TO RESPOND?
A. "COME TO ME..."
1. This is easy, even though Jesus is "King of kings and Lord of
2. For as He says, "I am gentle and lowly in heart"
a. He is so gentle, children felt comfortable in His presence
(cf. Mt 18:2)
b. He is so lowly in heart, the common people heard Him gladly
(cf. Mk 12:37)
-- As prophesied, Jesus would be tender and sensitive to our
needs ("A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He
will not quench" - Isa 42:3; Mt 12:20)
B. "TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU..."
1. "In Jewish literature a 'yoke' represents the sum-total of
obligations which, according to the teaching of the rabbis,
a person must take upon himself." - William Hendriksen
(Matthew, New Testament Commentary)
2. Jesus is therefore expecting those who desire the rest He
a. Accept His teachings
b. Accept whatever obligations He would lay upon you
C. "...AND LEARN FROM ME"
1. This is how we learn what obligations He would place upon us
2. We must be willing to listen to Him, and do whatever He says
- cf. Lk 6:46-49
[In essence, "The Savior's Tender Invitation" is a call to
discipleship: to commit your life as a disciple of Jesus, committed to
learning from Him and accepting the obligations He places upon you
(i.e., "His yoke"). This might prompt one to ask...]
IV. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO ACCEPT THIS INVITATION?
A. AS JESUS TAUGHT ELSEWHERE, IT DOES REQUIRE...
1. That we observe all that He commanded - Mt 28:19-20
2. That we abide in His doctrine (teaching) - Jn 8:31
B. BUT AS STATED HERE, "MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT"
1. John, who was a disciple for over fifty years, said: "His
commandments are not grievous" - 1 Jn 5:3
2. What helps lighten our burden is the strength Jesus Himself
gives - Ph 2:12-13; 4:13
-- Certainly the burden Jesus places upon us is lighter than the
burden sin lays upon us!
1. Do you desire the rest for your soul that is offered by "The
Savior's Tender Invitation"?
a. Then come to Jesus in full obedience to His gospel
b. Commit to becoming His disciple, learning from Him all that He
2. As suggested in Mt 28:19-20, this life of discipleship begins with
a. For in baptism we put on Christ - Ga 3:27
b. For in baptism we rise to walk in newness of life - Ro 6:3-4
As one rises from the watery grave of baptism, they are freed from the
burden of sin through the precious blood of Christ. As they continue
to observe all that He commanded, their burden becomes even lighter as
they apply to their lives the wisdom Jesus taught.
Have you accepted the yoke of Jesus? Are you living under that yoke?