I had a huge “aha” moment today. It seems like the cities Jesus addresses here missed the “aha” that leads to repentance and change and were mostly there to enjoy the “show” that Jesus was providing.
- V21 – Chorazin and Bethsaida are part of Jewish Galilee. Tyre and Sidon are waaay up the coast (of the Mediterranean, not the Sea of Galilee) and they were Gentile cities, but people were travelling all the way down from those cities to see and hear Jesus (Luke 6:17).
- V21 – They were content to accept Jesus’ gifts of healing without repenting and following Him with their lives. Hearing demands repentance. Repentance demands obedience and change.
◊ As I travel with God, am I going “higher up, deeper in” (my favorite quote from C.S Lewis’ The Last Battle) or am I just enjoying the show, maintaining a surface-level relationship that doesn’t demand growth and change. (I don’t think that can actually happen. A relationship with God that doesn’t demand growth and change is not a relationship with God, as far as I know.)
- V23 – Sodom was a really bad city but Jesus says if they could have heard His good news and seen His miracles, they would’ve been moved to repentance. Jesus’ own hometown (where He was living at the time) wasn’t being affected by His message.
- V20-24 – This reminds me of the story of Jonah going to Ninevah. Even though they didn’t serve God and the city was a moral cesspool, when He sent His message to them, they were moved by it and changed their ways. It seems like the people who are completely without God are more ready to accept Him than those who think they know Him but have missed the mark in their understanding of how His love, grace, and mercy work.
◊ I have heard, does my life reflect repentance and change? Do I prefer to just accept God’s blessing without offering my life to Him in return?
- V25 – With God, it’s impossible to “know it all.” If we could completely understand Him, He wouldn’t be worth our worship. So I guess what Jesus is saying is that God reveals Himself to people with lots of faith and humility, like little kids, because when we try to understand God apart from faith and humility, we start thinking we know better than He how things should operate.
◊ Do I try to control God by saying “I know this is how You are and this is how You do things. If You operate outside of my understanding of You, You must not be God.” Or am I like a child who is gleefully surprised when my Father teaches me new things? This is tricky, though, because people (and Satan) can try to deceive us. That’s why it’s so important that we recognize His voice (John 10:1-5).
- V26 – It’s very gracious of God to reveal Himself and His backward kingdom in a backward way to the simple rather than the profound. Not very many of us would make the cut if only the Wise Elite could grasp the kingdom.
- V27 – “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” -(See Matthew 4:9 – Eat it Satan!) He has authority over everything!
- V27 – They are in intimate relationship – knowing and being known – with each other and Jesus invites us into that intimacy!
◊ Do I embrace the intimacy of knowing God and being known by Him or do I try to keep Him at arm’s length – not caring to intimately know Him and hoping (wishing) He doesn’t intimately know me (because there are some things I’d like to keep hidden from Him)?
- V28 – An appeal for repentance. He’s just been explicitly clear about the consequences of rejecting His message. He knows that these people are staggering under the weight of the bazillion rules and laws the Pharisees have imposed upon them, combined with the oppression of occupying Rome. He’s offering relief from all that!
- V28-30 – This is a really interesting follow-up to His recent statements:
- “I will give you rest.” “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.” (10:16)
- “I am gentle and lowly in heart…” “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” (10:34)
- “…you will find rest for your souls.” “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (10:22)
- “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “The way is hard that leads to life.” (7:14)
I think we like to highlight this peaceful yoke section and skip over the hard bits. My Study Bible says a yoke is a common metaphor for the law. So the yoke of Judaism was heavy, made heavier by Pharisees who added even more rules. These people thought they had to meticulously follow these gajillion seemingly senseless rules to earn God’s approval. Jesus’ yoke (law) is light: Accept my free gift of salvation. You don’t have to work for it – you can’t work for it. The works will come through my Spirit working in you. It will be joyful and fulfilling, not heavy and a drudge. Here’s my epiphany: I think it’s easy for us to get this message backwards. I wouldn’t have said it out loud, but until recently I think something in me thought that as a Christian my life would be easy, but there’s a lot of things I needed to do to earn God’s favor. In reality, Jesus said there’s nothing we can do to earn His love – we can just rest in it, that’s the easy part – but life following Him will be hard while we’re still on earth.
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?