Coming to Matthew 11, Jesus commanded His disciples to depart “and teach and preach” in the cities and villages of Galilee (11:1). Jesus continued alone and great crowds followed Him. Many listened to Him teach, witnessed His miracles, and were preoccupied with wondering: Is Jesus the long-awaited Messiah? Would He deliver Israel from Roman occupation and restore the nation to her glory? Even John the Baptist, imprisoned by Herod, questioned and “sent two of his disciples, who asked, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (11:2-3)
Blessed like no other region in all history, the cities and villages about Galilee were privileged to have Christ living in their midst. Though they heard Jesus teach, and witnessed miracles of healing no man could do apart from God’s power, yet, there were many who rejected Him. Like discontented children (11:16-17), they were never satisfied and were harsh in their criticisms of John the Baptist for not eating and drinking as they (11:18). Yet, those same critics would turn about and condemn Jesus, saying, He was “gluttonous…a winebibber…[and] a friend of publican and sinners” (11:19).
Jesus condemned the cities and villages of Galilee, for they had benefited from His presence and ministry, though many lacked faith (11:20-24). Comparing Chorazin and Bethsaida to Tyre and Sidon (two Phoenician cities of ancient days known for their wickedness), Jesus warned, “I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you” (11:22). Even Capernaum did not escape Jesus’ admonishment, for He likened that city to the wickedness of Sodom, warning, “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (11:24).
“Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luke 12:48) was the spiritual principle Jesus illustrated when He compared Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum with ancient cities known for notorious wickedness. In the day of God’s judgment, Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better than self-righteous Capernaum (11:21-24). Imagine how much worse God’s judgment might be upon our generation that has multiple copies of Scripture in our homes, and the freedom to gather and hear the Word of God preached and taught.
Closing thoughts (11:25-30) – The Pharisees and scribes oppressed the people with their harsh, onerous traditions and interpretations of the Law. Yet, the salvation Jesus offered was simple and good (11:25-27). Matthew 11 concluded with an invitation to those who bear the weight of sin: Come to Christ by faith and obtain that which works can never attain (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). His invitation was a simple, threefold command.
Matthew 11:28–30 – 28Come [follow] unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden [physically and spiritually weary], and I will give you rest. 29Take [take up] my yoke upon you [be my disciple], and learn of me [submit; obey]; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
What a contrast to the harsh, demanding legalist of Jesus’ day, for He was “meek and lowly in heart,” and promised rest (11:29-30). Submissive followers of Christ do not find the Laws and Commandments of the LORD burdensome and legalistic! Sincere believers will love, obey, and find “His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:2-3), and find rest for their souls in His eternal Truth.
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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