Matthewby Mike Raiter
We are ″born again believers″. Do you see the paradox in that simple statement? We are born again, which is the Spirit's sovereign work, bringing us to spiritual life. But at the same time, we are also believers. That is, at some point in our life, we chose to put our trust in Christ. It is God's work and our work.
Jesus has just told us of the opposition the kingdom of heaven faces, and now He condemns Israel for their hard-hearted refusal to believe and repent. They are like whinging little children; no matter what you do, they cannot be pleased. John fasts and they call him mad. Jesus feasts and they call Him a glutton (vv. 18-19). Both John and Jesus called the people to repent, yet many rejected and opposed them. In the face of the godly lives of both men (v. 19), and Jesus' extraordinary miracles, still the towns and cities of Galilee have shown a stubborn rebelliousness that outdoes even those infamous twin cities of sin, Sodom and Gomorrah (vv. 23-24). They have made their choice against Jesus. When judgment comes, there can be no excuses. They are fully responsible.
These proud cities will not repent, nor can they repent. Their eyes have been closed to all God is doing in Jesus. But God is sovereign, and it is His will that the little children (v. 25)- that is, the poor in spirit, the meek, and the hungry for righteousness (Matthew 5:1-11)-understand spiritual truths. Jesus always reveals the Father to such people. This is Jesus' sovereign will and power (v. 27).
These words are not meant to dishearten us. On the contrary, this same Jesus invites all of us to ″Come″ (v. 28). Anyone who is weighed down by life and guilt can turn in humble dependence to Jesus and find rest in Him. It is not that following Jesus isn't demanding; indeed, it is the most demanding life of all. Yet the obedience He calls for is exceeded by the grace and strength He provides (v. 30).
We have met today both the sovereign, judging Lord (vv. 20-24), and the gentle, gracious Christ (vv. 25-30). To all who turn to Him, He promises rest, both now in part, and perfectly in the age to come.
Why is Jesus so strong in His denunciation of the Jewish towns and villages (vv. 20-24)? Can you think of any circumstances where He might say similar words about the church?
Would you describe the people around you as ″weary and burdened″? How might you begin to talk to such people about the good news of Jesus?