Gospel Thoughts: Matthew 11

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John Sends Two of His Disciples
Verses 1-15

When Jesus gave the twelve the commission of preaching the Gospel, he had finished giving them all the instructions necessary for their evangelism mission. Jesus then departed that place and started to teach in the cities of the Jews.

The focus of our attention in the passage is the message that John the Baptist sent to Jesus. Here there is an earnest desire to know who Jesus really is. No doubt John the Baptist knew who Jesus was. The questions that John sent with his two disciples were for their purpose. The two disciples had an opportunity to hear Jesus testify of who he is. They had the chance to hear for themselves the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is possible that John knew that his life was shortly to end, and his attention was drawn to the well-being of his disciples. John wanted his disciples to understand for themselves that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus then refers to various miracles as a testimony of his divine nature and the fact that he is the Messiah sent from God.

The commendation that Jesus made of John the Baptist is also worthy of our attention. No one else in Holy Scripture has this said about them by Jesus. John the Baptist was a faithful preacher of repentance. He did not mince his words. He was a clear and straight-to-the-point preacher. John was the type of man who would rather die than compromise the truth before the adulterous King. John is a good example of a godly preacher. Our Lord said of him that there has not been a greater man born than John the Baptist. This humble but bold man was more than a mere prophet, for the prophets of old prophesied from a distance. John was both an eyewitness of the Messiah and a prophet of the Messiah.

The Rejection of Jesus
Verses 16-24

These words of Jesus were intended for the Jewish people but convey a message of wisdom for Christian people today. They teach us some things about the state of the unconverted heart. At this point in our Lord’s ministry, the Jews had a problem with Jesus, as they did during much of his ministry. They found fault in everything. Firstly, they had issues with John the Baptist saying he had a devil. Then they assumed Jesus of being a glutton, winebibber, and a friend of the enemies of the Jews. The Jews regarded the publicans as enemies because they collected taxes for the Romans.

We find many professing believers today have a similar attitude of the Jews. They are never satisfied by the clear teachings of Scripture. For example, if the evangelical believer speaks on biblical marriage some who claim to be Christians who take a liberal view will not be satisfied with the doctrine of marriage between one man and one woman. Topics such as sexuality and gender are also doctrines that are clear in the Bible who some disagree with. The Bible alone is our guide and authority, but some claim that the mood or view of society has some authority in biblical doctrine.

There is a warning here to those who hear the preaching of the Gospel and repent not, nor heed to the call. Jesus announces great woes upon the cities that heard his teachings and did not repent. He tells them that it will be more tolerable for the wicked city of Sodom in the day of judgment than for these cities. The fact that Jesus points this out points to the possibility that there are degrees of punishment in hell for the ungodly. It is possible that a soul that never heard the name of Christ preached will not be punished in the same way as a soul that heard the Gospel and rejected it. Nevertheless, all who live ungodlily will end up in the lake of fire and judgment. Sodom had no Gospel, but these cities did. We see this in today's society many are guilty of exceeding great wickedness and are not willing to repent nor do they have any shame for their sin.

In fact, many are proud of their sin and boast about their deeds. As Jesus rightly points out in this passage there is a great need for men and women to repent in sackcloth and ashes. Deep heart repentance, real repentance, and a God honouring repentance. One of the greatest follies of man is pride. We suffer due to sin, either our own sin or the sin of someone else. We must come to Christ to be rid of the virus that sin is. The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 is in living memory. It has been reported that the virus has claimed the lives of of over 160,000 people in the United Kingdom and over 6.5 million worldwide. The number of souls that have died is nothing compared to how many that have and will die due to sin. All people die because of sin. Sin is a virus more deadly than coronavirus. People can survive COVID-19, but they cannot survive the virus of sin. Whether we believe in COVID vaccines or not, there is no vaccine for death. One day we will all die and stand before the judgment seat of Christ. On that day will you be found under the wrath of God and safe and secure in the Saviour.

Come and Rest
Verses 25-30

In the closing verses of Matthew 11, we read some of the most important and comforting words of our Lord. It can be very perplexing for us to consider why some repent and believe the gospel, while others do not. This of course is the business of God and is beyond our limited understanding of the divine. Our duty is to be faithful witnesses in a world full of sin. Jesus invites us to cast all our cares and burdens upon him. This is the love of our Lord to those who are burdened, come and rest. God does not alone grant eternal rest for souls in heaven, but here on earth also. Find your rest in Christ for his burden is light. Christ does indeed lighten the load of our burdens. We do not have to suffer alone, nor carry the weight of our burdens. Consider for a moment the words of Joseph Scriven in that timeless hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
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