As we continue to read Matthew we see some continuous characteristics of Jesus Christ emphasized: his authority in teaching, his power, his divinity, and how costly yet wonderful it is to follow him.
But take just a moment to focus on Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus has just pronounced woe (destruction) upon the cities that rejected the gospel (20-24). He then thanks the Father who reveals and hides the truth of the good news of Jesus to whomever he wills. Then he gives a call…
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
The people who rejected Christ were religious. They knew their Bibles. They expected a Messiah to come and save them. But they where so caught up in their own self-righteous endeavors that they missed the Messiah. Jesus, the Savior, was right in front of them preaching the good news.
How could they miss it?
The same way we often do. We dumb down following God to obeying a list of rules and regulations. But there is a problem. No one measures up to the list because no one is perfect. It’s a heavy burden to bear. When our status with God is dependent on our obedience our souls can never be at rest.
When we attempt to get right with God by our own efforts, one of two things happens:
- We become self-righteous, thinking that we have earned God’s love and favor by our own good works. This is what happened to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They viewed themselves as better than every one else, even Jesus!
- We become distraught, knowing we could never measure up to God’s standards. Knowing we are dead in our sin but failing to recognize that God has provided salvation.
Do you find yourself in either of these positions? The call of Christ is clear. Come to him. Turn from your sin and trust in him. Know that your good deeds are like filthy rags that earn you nothing (Isaiah 64:6). Know that Christ came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Whether you’re basking in your self-righteousness or wallowing in your despair, trust in him and he will give you rest.