Lent: Matthew 11
What a blessing it is to walk with our Lord, living our lives in His Word each day during this time of Lent. I hope to share thoughts about the daily readings from Hebrews and Matthew. (Past posts may be accessed by clicking the Home page footer “Lent: Walking with Christ.”)
In chapter 11 our dear Savior deals with doubt. John the Baptizer, his greatest supporter sent to prepare His way, is really troubled. John had been imprisoned by Herod Antipas for speaking the truth, callling everyone to repent especially Herod. Herod had taken his brother’s wife as his own and John had not minced words in revealing Herod’s sin. Jesus was doing all these miracles and yet John remained in prison. Perhaps John’s supporters (and John himself) were discouraged and filled with concern whether Jesus is really the one!
Certainly John and his followers had their doubts. “Who doesn’t” I can hear you thinking! They had not necessarily rejected Jesus. Doubts arise when faith is present. Doubts do not negate faith. In the face of doubt, faith spurs us on for reassurance and strength. John did exactly what we need to do when we doubt: God to Jesus. When heaven seems too good to be true, when we have those moments when we think Jesus could be nothing more than a myth, when we are imprisoned by our circumstances that cause us to blame God, we need to go to Jesus for reassurance. Just as with John, Jesus will not turn us away. When He points us to everything He has endured for us, everything He did to demonstrate His divine powers – His voluntary death in our place, His victorious resurrection, His presence with us through thick and thin – we are reassured that we can rely on all His promises and trust Him to carry us through and safely bring us home one day to heaven. John was a great man indeed! But Jesus points to lesser ones in God’s scheme of things that He makes great as they trust in Jesus.
Jesus offers rest to the weary! Sure, that’s you and me! Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:26-30). Faith isn’t an accomplishment possible only for the educated folks of our world. It is God’s gift by the Holy Spirit for the least, last and lost. Even a little child can believe and be saved. Worldly wisdom can become an obstacle to such faith, but little kids don’t have that problem. We too should remind ourselves that our heavenly Father is pleased to deal with us that way!
The weary and burdened are the ones to whom Jesus chooses to reveal the love of the Father. These are the same people Jesus described earlier in Matthew as the poor in spirit, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt. 5). Those who acknowledge their sinfulness and realize that it’s a burden too heavy for them to bear, they are the ones Jesus promises rest. He turns us to His Word and Sacraments. This rest is His gift that only He can give!
We are yoked to Jesus! That yoke we have received is the whole of Christian life and hope. We have Christ in our lives so that His commandments are no longer a heavy burden that weighs us down. Instead, they are expressions of God’s will in which we delight. With the forgiveness and strength of Jesus, we seek to live according to them as expression of our love for Him. We will bear some crosses along the way, but they become faith uplifting as they help us to understand what Jesus endured for us. We have his promise of strength to lead us through and the truth that good things will come even in the midst of challenge!
May the words of the hymn by William Dix be prayful reality for us…
“Come unto Me, ye weary, And I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus, Which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, O pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that hath no ending, Of love that cannot cease.
“And whosoever cometh, I will not cast him out.”
O patient love of Jesus, Which drives away our doubt,
Which, though we be unworthy Of love so great and free,
Invites us very sinners To come, dear Lord, to Thee! Amen.