Memory Verse: Matthew 11:28
11:20-24 Truth Brings Repentance Or Judgement
- 11:20 Jesus began to harshly criticize the cities where “most of His mighty works were done” because they didn’t repent. Jesus’ mission was to save the world not judge it. His mighty works were evidence of who He was and the truth that He taught. But many people still chose not to repent—a change of mind, heart, and life based on the understanding of truth or turning away from sin and turning to God. Therefore, in the last day, the truth that Jesus spoke will judge all who reject Him. The inhabitants of these cities were guilty of not taking Jesus seriously. The purpose of Jesus performing miracles was to lead people to repentance, but instead the people were indifferent to Jesus.
- 11:21-22 Jesus continues “Woe”—and interjection of grief or denunciation, and then address two cities by name: Chorazin and Bethsaida—Jewish cities of Galilee. He criticizes them for not repenting after He did mighty works among them. Then He said that if the same mighty works that were done there had been done in Tyre and Sidon—wicked Gentile cities of Phoenicia, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes— public signs of repentance and grief over one’s sin. Because they rejected the truth that was testified by the mighty works, they would be have a harsh judgment—it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment. This points to those who have a greater opportunity to repent but don’t will be judged more severely than those who have less opportunity—thus there must be different degrees of punishment.
- 11:23-24 Next, Jesus turns to a third city: Capernaum—a Jewish City of Galilee where Jesus’ home was. This city thought that it would be “exalted unto heaven”—meaning they thought heaven would be their final destination, but Jesus corrects their thinking and tells them they will “be brought down to hell.” Heaven is the highest point and represents eternal joy in the presence of God, whereas hell is the lowest point and represents eternal punishment in the absence of God. Why hell? Because they were indifferent to the mighty works that Jesus did in their midst and refused to repent. He goes on to say that if these mighty works were done in Sodom—a wicked Gentile City that was destroyed for their sin—it would have remained until this day. Just like the other two cities, because they rejected the truth that was testified by the mighty works that they would have a harsh judgment—it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment. Why? Because they experience the works and words of Jesus, but ultimately rejected Him.
11:25-30 Jesus Invitation: “Come Unto Me.”
- 11:25-26 At that time—around the same time Jesus was criticizing these three cities for not repenting, He says a little prayer. First, Jesus addresses God as Father, and the Lord of heaven and earth. Second, Jesus thanks God because He had hid “these things” from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes. This means that God’s plan of revealing His will and truth does not come through standards of conventional human wisdom which often lead to pride, but reveals it to “babes” or those who are humble and willing to believe like a child does. A wise and prudent person is one who has good intellect, education, and thus can comprehend most things, but their intelligence often causes them to see themselves as superior to others and they choose to rely on their wisdom instead of placing a simple child-like faith in Jesus. This is the way that God has planned it and it seemed good in His sight. It doesn’t matter if you are wise or not, the truth is received by everyone the same way—through a humble faith.
1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 2:6-8
- 11:27 Jesus reveals God to us. Jesus tells us about His relationship with God. (1) All things are passed on to Jesus from God. Therefore, His teachings are the direct words and will of God without error. (2) Jesus says that God is His Father. This means Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God—the closest relationship with God that anyone could have and a term that basically means that He is claiming to be equal with God. (3) No man knows Jesus but God. No man knows God but Jesus and whoever Jesus reveals God to. Jesus is saying that He has true knowledge of God and that He can reveal this knowledge to others. God was not unapproachable or unknowable—for Jesus has approached Him and has a relationship with Him. At that time, apart from God, those He was speaking to didn’t fully understand who Jesus was. Jesus was claiming something higher than human observation could comprehend—that God was revealing Himself to mankind through His Son Jesus and that it would ultimately be Him who died for their sins to save them.
- 11:28a Jesus invites us to come to Him. If you want to know God then you have to come to Jesus—the One who reveals God to others. He has a real relationship and knowledge of God and is willing to tell us. He is the way, the truth and the life.
- 11:28b Jesus invites all to come to Him, even the troubled—those who labour and are heavy laden. This is a metaphor that means those who are wearied from all of life’s troubles and sin—just like a person is exhausted from being overworked, through great strain or stress and have a heavy load they are trying to carry and causes great exhaustion. It is to this person that is overwhelmed by life’s troubles, sin and trying to earn salvation through good works or keeping the laws and rules of religion that Jesus invites to come to Himself. You don’t have to clean up your life first, start doing good, or fulfill all the rules, but you come to Jesus just as you are, with all of your problems and sin.
- 11:28c Jesus offers to give rest to the troubled. This is continuing the metaphor that in the same way taking a break from your working activities in order to be refreshed is rest, Jesus is offering you salvation by grace, not by our own effort or works, and it gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Jesus is offering to forgive our sins and to bear the heavy load that we couldn’t bear ourselves. If you are tired from all of life problem’s or sin, tired from trying to be the best you can but to only fail, tired of trying to fulfill all the requirements of your religion to be accepted by a “god,” then come to Jesus, He offers rest.
Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 4:7
- 11:29-30 Jesus wants us to be His disciples. He tells those who come to Him: (1) to take His yoke upon them—meaning that we are to come under His headship and be submissive to Him and work together. His yoke is easy and His burden is light—the fear, worry and guilt that comes with life’s trouble and sin can be replaced with Jesus’ yoke. (2) To learn of Him—meaning that Jesus is a meek (gentle, mild) and lowly (humble, not arrogant or prideful) teacher and if we as His disciples learn how to be like Him then we will find rest for our souls—we no longer have to worry about earning our salvation through religious works or being good, but He freely gives it and teaches us how to live.
- Why did Jesus harshly criticize the cities where most of His mighty works were done?
- Jesus reveals who to us?
- Jesus invites who to come to Him?
- Jesus offers to give what to who?
- Jesus wants us to be His what?