Learning something new - a key to entering God's Rest
In our daily readings we have been reading through Matthew's gospel. The section 11:20-12:14 surrounds the famous 'come to me all you who are weary ...' verses in 11:28-30. This section as a whole can help us understand these verses in a clearer way. Here is an outline:
11:20-24 - Jesus denounces those cities who don't respond to his miracles.
Miracles are unusual occurrences that at the very least should cause us to wonder, but they should also cause us to question our current thinking. Jesus' miracles were signs that pointed to a greater reality.
11:25-26 - Jesus praised His Father that these things were hidden from the wise and learned and revealed to little children.
A risk when we are wise and learned is that we can begin to think we know everything and can explain everything. That can lead to us ignoring or explaining away things that don't fit with our carefully thought out system. Maybe this is something that lay behind the lack of response to Jesus miracles reported in v20-24. Instead we need to be like little children who are curious, regularly ask why, are open to new things and absorb new information like sponges. Jesus is about to bring new information about rest and Sabbath.
11:27 - Jesus affirms that he is a source of true knowledge about God
11:28-30 - The great verses that invite those who are weary to learn from Jesus to find rest for their souls.
The easy yolk Jesus refers to in these verses is his way of life. When a young ox was yolked to a more mature ox, the yolk caused the young ox to move in the same way and at the same speed as the experienced ox. Receiving rest from Jesus includes learning His way and pace of life.
12:1 - Jesus models a restoring approach to Sabbath
He goes for a walk with his disciples in the grainfields. They were in creation snacking on the fruit of creation. Many of us will have had experience of the restful and restoring power of these activities.
12:2-8 - The Pharisees question Jesus' actions from verse 12:1 and Jesus provides answers.
Jesus explains that Sabbath is an expression of God's mercy - a time for feeding the hungry more than protecting 'consecrated' food, and a time for worship even if it involves priests 'doing work'. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, not temple regulations. This view of the Sabbath is critical to entering the rest Jesus offers. Note however, it is still about times of rest.
12:9-13 - Jesus performs a miracle and speaks to the Pharisees:
Jesus tries to get the Pharisees to see that doing good, like rescuing and healing people, is compatible with Sabbath rest. The miracle of the healing the shrivelled hand is a sign that points to this.
12:14 - The section closes with the Pharisees mirroring the cities from the beginning of the section
Like the cities they refuse to change their minds (repent). But then they go even further and plot to kill Jesus.
photo credit: Key 2 via photopin (license)
David Wanstall, 04/02/2016