Title: You Invite is Here. Time to RSVP.
Text: Matthew 11:20-30
FCF: Even still, we often struggle understanding the exact nature of the gospel.
Prop: The words and works of Jesus point us to peace and communion with God, so we must repent and believe.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew 11. Last week we saw a believer wrestling with His understanding of the nature of Christ and His purpose in coming. His theology was wrong, and he wanted to know where. But instead of asking how the Word of God would be accomplished, John the Baptist asked if there was another one coming in judgment, since Jesus was obviously not there to judge the world. Jesus’ answer to John, to put it as simply as we can, was John… Trust what I say. Roll with me here John. It isn’t gonna go how you think – and I’m gonna say some pretty crazy things – but just roll with it. Keep trusting me. Then Jesus turned to the crowds and said the same thing. Stop trusting what you think you know, what you have always believed, and simply listen to me and learn from me. Believe me. Our takeaway was just that. To not allow the bible to be a slave to our theology – but to enslave our theology to the Word of God. Regardless of whether that is for sign gifts, worship styles, or even our understanding of the gospel. Our theology should always be formed by the Word of God only… not what others say about the Word of God. And I hope you learned that lesson last week, because today, today we will be challenged yet again on our perception of Christ and our perception of the gospel itself. I’m in Matthew 11 starting in verse 20. I’ll be reading from the NET today but follow along in whatever version you have in front of you.
Perhaps it is our short lifespans or our inattention to detail, perhaps our lack of reading the manual on things. In any case, here are a few every day items that you have been using incorrectly your entire life.
How many times have you used these items and yet you still have used them wrong.
And how long have you been a follower of Christ? Is it still possible that we do not quite understand the gospel? Is it still possible that we may yet be struggling with what we think it is vs what it actually is.
Jesus says to trust him, but…
What happens if we refuse to listen to Jesus? What happens if we insist on playing the game by our rules? What happens if we cling to the Jesus we want rather than the Jesus He is, the gospel we want rather than the gospel that is? Well that is exactly what Matthew brings up next. Look at verse 20.
I.) The Words and Works of Jesus point us to peace and communion with God, So we must repent of any other way. (20-24)
a. [Slide 6] 20 – Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent.
i. We are left to wonder exactly what the connection between what was said in verses 1-19 and what is said from 20 on through chapter 11 have to do with one another.
ii. What helps us is to remember that Matthew writes thematically and not chronologically. And, it is true in this case that Jesus’ words here do not happen in the same chronological context as what was said to John’s disciples or the crowd present for John’s question.
iii. So we are looking for themes that connect these two statements by Jesus together. Not simply historical events.
iv. Thematically we have seen in chapter 11 thus far
1. John the Baptist’s view of who the Messiah was to be and what He was to do compared to what Jesus was doing and who Jesus was. Finding a difference between them.
2. Jesus extrapolates that out to include not just John and his disciples but the entire generation being a people who want to play life by their rules and expect others to play along.
3. In both contexts Jesus’ words are, essentially, do not trust what you have been taught or what you have always believed – Trust me. Listen to me. Learn from me. Follow me.
4. We concluded last time in the text with a quick explanation of what the last sentence says in verse 19. That John and Jesus’ message is validated by their works. That their fulfillment of prophesy validates that their message was true.
v. So thematically how does verse 20 presume to connect to the previous section. I hope that you can see that thematically their messages are easily connected.
vi. Jesus is now going to denounce or publically criticize these cities who are the children playing the game by their rules. This is what all those who do not listen to, trust in, and follow Christ have to look forward to.
vii. Matthew is taking Jesus’ statements here to move the ball down the field and press the issue with his readers.
b. [Slide 7] 21-22 - Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable to Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you!
i. The word Woe is a great expression of grief and pity. It is grief and pity with no hope. There is finality in this word.
ii. [Slide 8] Chorazin is a small, somewhat insignificant village outside of Capernaum and Bethsaida is a large town granted city status around the same time Jesus was ministering there.
iii. [Slide 9] Now because we are studying Matthew, we don’t spend a lot of time on Chronological events because we are focusing on themes but just to make this make a little more sense – both Jesus sending his disciples out into Galilee and these words to these three cities are after at least 2 and probably 3 tours of Galilee by Jesus and His disciples. In chapter 4 and 9 of Matthew there are two places where Matthew includes a simple statement such as (and Jesus went about preaching and healing in Galilee) which includes several months with many events. In other words, he isn’t calling these cities on the carpet for no reason. They had heard his message and seen his miracles at least twice.
iv. Jesus compares them to two other cities. Tyre and Sidon. Now Tyre and Sidon have a long history and some of that history is recorded in the Old Testament. The only consistent thing throughout that history is that these cities were wicked cities. In Isaiah and Ezekiel their downfall was prophesied and had since been fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar coming in and destroying them.
v. But by Jesus’ time, these cities had been built up again, and again they were hotbeds of debauchery.
vi. To even be compared to such a city would have been a difficult thing to swallow. But Jesus comparison is not that they are the same…
vii. Jesus says that If he went over to Tyre and Sidon and did the same things He had done for them. Preached the same message and did the same miracles, they would have repented long ago. They would have been ripped apart by their own wickedness. They would have begged God for mercy.
viii. And as if that was not difficult enough… Jesus continues.
ix. When judgment comes and God’s hammer finally does fall… The judgment of God on Tyre and Sidon will seem tame compared to Chorazin and Bethsaida.
x. But Jesus has one more comparison to make.
c. [Slide 10] 23 – 24 – And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued to this day. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.
i. Capernaum is the place that Jesus calls his home. It is his base of operations during his ministry in Galilee. Although we have not gotten to Nazareth’s rejection of Jesus in Matthew – Chronologically it has already happened.
ii. Perhaps from this, people of Capernaum could count themselves blessed. That the messiah or at least a great prophet called their city home. But does this earn them any brownie points with God?
iii. Certainly not!
iv. Instead because they had not repented – their home would be made up in Hell. Interestingly enough – we have no record of Capernaum rejecting Him. They did not kick him out or ask him to leave. But their crime was perhaps worse… it was apathy.
v. Again Jesus draws a direct comparison to an ancient city that some historians as late as the 19th century have claimed to still find pockets of underground fire. Sodom. That great city of the plain that many believe became the shallow part of the dead sea by the fury of God’s wrath. Sodom and Gomorrah.
vi. But if Jesus went to those places and performed these miracles and preached this message – they would have repented and God would have shown them mercy. The dead much smaller. The ash littered ground where nothing can grow would still be part of the furtile plain. The entire topography of Israel would be different.
vii. But – it will be more bearable in the final judgment for Sodom, than it will be for you Capernaum.
d. [Slide 11] Perhaps you saw the movie, maybe not. There have since been several other spider-man movies released and I’ve heard they are better than the Toby MaGuire ones. But in the first Spider man with Toby Maguire – as Peter Parker was developing all his new powers as spider man, his uncle, gave Peter some advice. With Great power comes great responsibility. In other words the greater the amount of power you possess, the more you must control its use and care for those who are powerless.
e. [Slide 12 (blank)] Jesus is communicating a similar concept. Essentially Jesus is saying, to whom much is revealed, much is required. To Sodom and Gommorrah God sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. To Tyre and Sidon God sent no envoy at all. Merely His reputation in guarding and leading the Israelite nation. But to Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, God had sent His Messiah – the Second Person of the Godhead – The Alpha and the Omega – His Word – His Servant – His Son… Yahweh in Flesh – And He sent Him at least twice.
f. You’d think the results would have been different.
g. I’d like to submit two basic conclusions to you from this – with one simple application to follow
h. [Slide 13] First the two conclusions
i. It is not Man’s problem that they have not heard. That if they would simply hear the gospel they would be saved. It is not man’s problem that they dwell in ignorance of God and His righteousness. Because if that were the case these cities would have repented. No man’s problem is that they have a wicked heart – and they want nothing to do with the righteousness of God. Because they wish to live as they wish. They wish to play the game in the street with the rules they have crafted for themselves and you can tell them till you are blue in the face that the rules are wrong – they won’t listen. Their problem is not that they are ignorant their problem is that they are dead. Dead men do not stir no matter how loud you yell.
ii. The second conclusion I must form from Jesus’ words here is that not only is man’s ignorance not their problem, in many ways a man’s ignorance may be their best hope. Because as wicked as they are, unwilling to repent, not knowing the truth means their judgment is blunted. But for these cities who had the Son of God walking their streets… there was no blunting of the judgment they will receive.
i. Which leads me to this application.
j. [Slide 14] Oh friend. We dwell in a land founded on biblical principles. Where there are over 400,000 churches. Where 250 million claim Christianity as their religion. We have 900 different translations and paraphrases of the bible in English. We have bible courses you can take online right now… some of them are free. Almost every single president we have ever had has claimed to be Protestant and many of them were Reformed. Some of our state buildings have the 10 commandments posted outside their buildings. And God’s law is woven to much of our law code – even today.
k. And yet… we are among the vilest and most debauched civilizations that has ever been.
l. So I have a question for you. Although we do not have the Son of the Living God walking our streets… how do you think our nation will faire in the judgment that is to come? And more personally – how do you think you will faire?
m. [Slide 15 (blank)] The key word in this passage is to repent. Which means to change your mind. It means to abandon your former thoughts, feelings and attitudes about something and adopt a new set of thoughts, feelings and attitude.
n. A preacher once illustrated repentance by asking why people were not running around shouting and trying to leave the building shouting fire? The congregants responded – because the building is not on fire. He said – you are right… it is not. How silly would it be if you were acting this way if it was? To repent would be to see the fire – change your mind about the safety of the building – change your emotions to panic, fear, and your attitude to desperation.
o. The miracles of Christ pointed to the fact that the Kingdom of God was coming and with it the judgment of God. That should generate a change of mind…
p. It is time for our nation to repent. It is time for those who call themselves Christians to repent.
q. It is time for the church to repent.
r. It is time for His people to return to His Word and walk in the Spirit.
s. Analyze your life for a moment while I am talking. Are you a person who is keenly aware of your own wickedness? Do you find yourself consistently falling on your face or crying out to God for deliverance from yet another way you are displeasing to Him? Are you constantly begging God for mercy. Daily feeling like you are the dead weight in your relationship to Him? Do you walk each day on egg shells just desperately clinging to His strength to overcome temptation and live an obedient day?
t. I can’t know your heart, but if this is you, you may just be a follower of Christ. Why?
u. Because His people are people of repentance. They are the ones who desperately need Him.
v. They do not send Him away or abide Him in apathy.
w. They are people whose minds have been changed because they have seen His glory and their wickedness.
x. So friend… if what I said before does not describe you. Then hear my words now. Until you find yourself and continue to find yourself desperately broken over your helpless spiritual state – until you recognize and continue to recognize your wickedness before a Holy and Just God – Until your fear of God and His hatred over YOUR PERSONAL SIN blossoms and continues to grow… you cannot be His disciple.
y. I don’t care what prayer you prayed, and I don’t care what works you have done in His name – until you hate your sin (I John 2:15ff) , you cannot possibly understand His salvation.
z. The good news is that if you have come to this realization today. If the light has shined into your soul today and you have realized that you are corrupt and wicked and that a Holy God will be your judge and you are overwhelmed with fear. If today you wish to beg Him for mercy and reject this wickedness, to beg for some solution to be gain peace with God. Well the good news is, that there is a way that man can know peace with God. Talk to me after the service if you want to know.
So first we see Jesus with some strong words to those who have rejected or ignored Him and His message. Their judgment will be great because so much had been revealed to them. So for us this means we must repent. We must seek God’s mercy and reject our former life. But Matthew continues with another context to expand on this theme.
II.) The Words and Works of Jesus point us to peace and communion with God, so we must believe on Christ alone. (25-30)
a. [Slide 16] 25-26 – At that time Jesus said, I praise you Father Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.
i. Contextually speaking – Jesus’ previous words were spoken as He sent out the 12 or as Luke reveals the 70 disciples into Galilee. But verse 25 is actually spoken after they return. What is Jesus saying?
ii. Is Jesus actually thanking God because He hid the truth from people? That doesn’t fit into our paradigm of Christ. Christ wanted everyone to hear the gospel right? Jesus wanted everyone to come to Him right?
iii. This is one of those passages that must change our perception of Christ and perhaps the gospel. Because much is revealed in these verses.
iv. Here in verse 25 we see that the Son is submissive to the Divine Will of God the Father. God the Father chose to hide the truth from those who were wise and intelligent.
v. God instead, reveals His truth to little children.
vi. It is probably best to see this not as truly wise and truly children but instead to view it somewhat symbolically.
vii. Jesus is saying that God the Father hid the truth from those who saw themselves as wise and intelligent people
viii. Instead He revealed the truth to those who were as dependent and helpless as children.
ix. So He isn’t talking about truly wise people or true children but rather their posture before God. Prideful vs. Humble.
x. To do this is gracious of God the Father.
xi. Now we can certainly see God’s grace in revealing himself to the humble – but where is God’s grace in not revealing Himself to the arrogant?
xii. Well we just talked about it. If He had… their judgment would have been more severe.
b. [Slide 17] 27 – All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the son decides to reveal Him.
i. We see the Son and the Father operating in perfect harmony with each other.
ii. There is a Divine community at work here. No one knows the Son except God the Father and Vice Versa.
iii. It is only those whom the Son chooses to reveal God the Father to, that can know Him. So the Son is also sovereign. Both the Father and Son are Sovereign. Yet the Son bows to the will of the Father and the Father has given Him the authority.
iv. Just a lot of theology packed into this.
v. Again we are faced with a dilemma to our paradigm. Jesus admits that He is selective on who He reveals God the Father to.
vi. So this verse, if you are a die-hard 5-point Calvinist is a really great verse.
vii. But you may want ignore Jesus’ command for men to do something in the the next three J
c. [Slide 18] 28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.
i. First let me be very clear. This verse has nothing to do with Jesus helping you pay your heat bill. This verse has nothing to do with conquering your depression. This verse has nothing to do with you dealing with a divorce, a sickness, a death, a trial or a temptation. STOP USING THIS VERSE IN THAT CONTEXT. Because you are cheapening what Jesus is saying. It is not some earthbound feel good verse to let you know that Jesus wants to help you with your problems. He does! But that is NOT what THESE verses say.
ii. So what is being said? Let me give you The Chris Over Explains it Version J
iii. Are you poor in spirit? Are you spiritually crushed by the weight of your sin? Do you feel like you can’t go on, knowing how wicked you are before a holy God? Are you looking at the Law and the Talmud thinking there is absolutely no way you can keep it, and if that is God’s standard you are doomed? If that is you… put down your weight. I have a weight that you can come along side me and bear with me. It is heavy – but I will help you pull it. While you are here, you can learn from me, learn how to walk without all that weight on your back. You can learn from me because I am the best teacher there will ever be. Be rested with me while you learn. Because this yoke is the New Covenant, which I will bear for you. And it will be easy for me to bear, and since you joined with me to bear it, it will be easy for you too.
iv. Do you see now why making this about Jesus helping you with your problems is such a cheap application of this verse?
v. These verses aren’t talking about Jesus helping you with earthly problems – these verses are about Jesus helping you with your ONLY problem. Your Spiritual State. That you are dead. That the Law has condemned you. That you stand wicked and rebellious before a Holy God.
vi. But Jesus says – I know God… and He has given me authority to make Him known to those whom I would choose.
vii. So if you are crushed by the weight of your sin… if you are burdened by the holy standard of God that you will never meet…
viii. COME TO ME and I will give you rest. The only rest that matters. Rest for your souls! Not for your bodies or your minds. For your souls.
[Slide 19 (blank)] And this leads quite naturally to our application today.
It is those who are crushed by the weight of their sin – those who are overwhelmed by the sorrow of their spiritual condition that have any real hope of salvation. It is those who like a child to their parent, understand their absolute need of God for any hope of life or sustenance.
Salvation isn’t a prayer or a set of truths that you believe. It is this.
Casting aside the yoke of pride, religion, law, knowledge, pleasure, fulfillment, happiness, wealth, power and fame, realizing that the weight of them are crushing you
And taking up the yoke of Christ which is easy for us to bear because it is easy for Him to bear. In Him we are able to find rest while bearing the weight. We are able to learn to walk without being crushed with each step.
In these 11 verses we have seen the gospel. We have seen the message that Jesus preached in every town, village, and city in Galilee.
[Slide 20A] Repent - reject your former life (the yoke you used to bear)
[Slide 20B (end)] Believe – Cry out in dependence on Christ as your substitute for sin and righteousness (a lighter yoke) and surrender to Him as your Lord (teacher while under His yoke)
This is the gospel. This is the good news. Not a prayer. Not a creed. But absolute and desperate dependence and surrender.
And now is your chance.
Has the weight of your religiosity caught you? Have you realized today how wicked you are compared to a Holy God? Are you crushed under the weight of that sin? Jesus’ words… are for you.
Come to me and I will give you… rest. I am your substitute and I am your teacher. I will bear your weight and teach you to walk worthy of my name.
And whether this is the first time you have ever realized it or the 400th time today - Jesus’ words are still for you.
Come. Come to Him.