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!

Luke 1:5-38: “May It Be”

Read: Luke 1:5-38

Gabriel was a messenger from God and describes himself as one who “stands in the presence of God”. To even be in the presence of God would be something of note, but to stand in God’s presence indicates that Gabriel was an angel of great importance. He was previously sent in Daniel to explain to Daniel the significance of the rams and goats and give the 70-week predictions (Daniel 8, 9).  He was dispatched to deliver the news concerning two great men: John the Baptist and Jesus. John would prepare the way as a prophet for Jesus, the Lord.

The angel Gabriel appeared to two different people – Mary and Zacharias. Luke notes that Zacharias’ wife, Elizabeth, was barren and could not have children. Nevertheless, Zacharias continued to pray for a son and God answered this prayer. Elizabeth conceived and had John. Although Zacharias and Elizabeth were both described as blameless and God-fearing, Zacharias when he has the vision asks for a sign, because he didn’t believe Gabriel’s message. Because of this, Zacharias became mute. On the other hand though, when Mary was told that she would become pregnant with Jesus, she asked how, but didn’t ask for a sign from God on the matter. Rather, she believed it and said let it be so.

Jews during Jesus’ day were always looking for signs and wonders as proof. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees when they asked for a sign and said that the only sign he would give them would be the “Sign of Jonah”, which is a rather cryptic response. He was referring to himself in that Jesus was calling them to repent and predicting his death and resurrection  as Jonah was in the fish for 3 days, Jesus was in the ground for 3 days (Matthew 12:38-41, Matthew 16:1-4, Luke 11:29-32). Jesus was the sign, and after Jesus ascended he gave the Holy Spirit to open the minds of Christians to the things of God so that they can know the truth (1 Corinthians 1:22, 1 Corinthians 2).

God is still communicating with people today through his word, which is “God breathed” (3 Timothy 3:16-17). Asking for additional revelation as Zacharias did doesn’t seem too harmful, but the evidence was standing right before his eyes (as if the presence of an angel wasn’t enough!) Rather than ask for a sign one should ask for wisdom and understanding as Mary did. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the minds of Christians can be illuminated to understand the truths in the scriptures, and respond to the commands of Christ as Mary did, saying “may it be”. It is okay to question God when one doesn’t understand, nevertheless asking for more proof that what is given shouldn’t be necessary, because enough proof already exists.

Lord, when you speak, help me say, “may it be”.