Matthew 11:25-30: The Easy Way

Read: Matthew 11:25:-30

After pronouncing woes on cities, Jesus makes some interesting remarks that read in isolation might seem confusing. He starts by praising the Father for not revealing things to the who are “wise” and with “understanding”. It would seem as if Jesus was praising God for only revealing himself to a simpleton. But these words are used pejoratively. What Jesus was getting at make perfect sense in context, namely that there were those among the Jews who were puffed up with “understanding” and “wisdom” and saw themselves as self-righteous according to the law. These were the individuals who rejected John and Jesus as prophecy and the ones that brought woes upon the cities in Galilee. What these individuals had done is take the Jewish law and turned it into a long list of do’s and don’ts and religion ceremonialism such that it had created an impossibly complex religion that was more of a burden than a blessing as it was meant to be. This is why Jesus encourages those who are heavy burdened to come to him and he will give them rest. Jesus did not come to layer on more religiosity, rather he came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-20).

Between the praise to the Father and the invitation to come, Jesus reveals something about revelation. He shows that the Father and the Son know one another, but the Father is revealed through the Son, and only to those the Son chooses to reveal the him too. This begs the question, who are these chosen ones? In context, the answer seems to be those who come to Jesus without pretext or an agenda. Those who are willing to submit humbly admit that they are sinners and in need of cleansing are the ones that Jesus reveals himself to. And to these, Jesus takes on the burden of sin for them and shows them that the law was never about trying to get people to follow a bunch of complicated rules, rather it was intended to show them that they couldn’t do it (Galatians 3:21-24).

Jesus is still revealing truth to those who are willing to hear it. Those who come to Jesus humbly and honestly seeking answers with an open heart and open mind can be taught the things of God from his word through the illumination of the Holy Spirit who imparts true wisdom and understanding (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). The call then is to not be a know-it-all, rather to be a disciple of Christ always wanting to learn more and grow into a deeper relationship with Christ. In this, one finds freedom from the bondage of religiosity.

Lord, keep me humble so that I may receive true wisdom and understanding!

John 8:31-36

Read: John 8:31-36

Being a slave to sin has its consequences, because sin makes one deaf and blind to the truth. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they did not believe them because they were prideful, in that they were seeking glory for themselves. When Jesus points this out, they go on the defensive trying to do whatever they can to discredit Jesus and trap him into saying something that they could use against him. Throughout the entire discourse, Jesus maintains that he speaks the truth, that the Father is his witness to this fact, and they Pharisees do not believe because they are blinded by sin. Jesus says that if they believed, then the truth would set them free from sin – and rather be a slave to sin, they would be free in the truth. The slavery of sin for the Pharisees was their own personal glory.

The motif of sin as slavery is expounded on in Romans 6 in reference to salvation. The argument Paul makes in the chapter is that everyone who has faith in Christ was a slave to sin, but through Jesus’ death, all who believe are made free from sin. They are, in the same manner that Christ died, dead to sin. But Jesus did not say dead – he rose from the dead. In this way, Jesus was made alive after bearing sin. Those who believe in Jesus are made alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:19 also speaks of the perpetuation of sin: sin resulting in more sin. When sin matures, it results in death (Romans 6:23, James 1:14-15).  Being freed from sin does not make one free as in one is no longer under bondage. One becomes a disciple of Christ, a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). The result of righteousness though is sanctification and eternal reward with God – namely eternal life that comes from Jesus (Romans 6:21-23). This is achieved by Christ imbuing righteousness which comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But slaves in God’s house receive an elevated status to sonship through adoption. Those who are in Christ receive a spirit of adoption and are sons of God (Romans 8:10-25, particularly Romans 8:15).

Slavery in the New Testament times was not the typical depiction of slavery common in Western thought. Freemen usually entered slavery for the purpose of paying off debt that was owed to a bondsman. They would indenture themselves for a time to a master who had the right to transfer the debt owed to someone else. The slave, in order to be set free, had to pay off the debt owed. Sometimes, a master could assume the debt and set the slave free. An even more generous master would elevate a slave to a son making him effectively no different than one of his children. When Paul says the wages of sin is death, he is saying in a manner of speaking that the money owed for a slave to sin is death. Jesus then pays the debt owed to master – namely the law – for the slave and then becomes the slave’s new master. The new master then elevates the slave to a status of sonship, and therein is true freedom.

Those who believe in Jesus are no longer slaves to sin. For this reason, sin should not reign over Christians, rather God should. Christians should not make light of price that Jesus paid for their freedom – it cost him his life and he endured much suffering for it. Paul says that grace is not a license to sin, rather something that should compel those who believe to live their lives such that are slave to righteousness although they are free in Christ and have been adopted as sons into the family of God. Those who know Jesus are his disciples and should do what he says!

Lord, Thank you for setting me free! Help me to live in a worthy manner.