Matthew 11:20-30 Unrest and Rest

Matthew 11:20-30      Unrest and Rest                                                         WC McCarter
Maybe you remember us talking about John the Baptizer predicting that Jesus would bring great judgment on the people, but He hadn’t fulfilled that part of His ministry. Part of the reason John was having some doubts was because he had preached judgment and repentance with such vigor and predicted that the Christ would after him, but to that point Christ had not. He had said,
“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat   into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt 3)
Although Christ had not fulfilled the words of the prophet as quickly as he may have envisioned, today judgment will be called down by Christ on the generation and cities of that time. We will do well to heed the Lord’s warnings. We will also see that there is rest to be found in Christ if true repentance takes place in our hearts.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Because They Did Not Repent (20-24)
What began in verse sixteen as a question of character for that generation now develops into full-blown rebuke for the lack of repentance. What cities did He rebuke? The cities in which most of His mighty works had been done were rebuked. One reason and one reason only is given for the judgment that is placed on them: they did not repent. What we quickly learn is that when Christ performed the many mighty miracles that He did, He was not looking for fame and prestige. His miracles were meant to cause repentance in the heart of the beholder. He was looking for repentance. Do you remember the main line of His preaching from the very beginning of His ministry? “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
***You cannot come into contact with the presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ and continue on with life the way you always have thinking that there will be no consequence for your lack of response through repentance.
Repentance means to turn. That is, people are to turn away from their life of sin and rebellion while turning to the God who is willing to forgive them for all their unrighteousness. Repentance is forsaking all that this world has to offer as not enough to satisfy God or oneself. You see, do not think that God is a selfish divine being who is only out for Himself. Yes, He will receive all the glory, but He wants you to be happy and satisfied as well. That is why we can affirm something to the effect of a statement such as, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” (Piper). Christ has come to give life and life more abundantly. In the next few verses we will see that Christ must bring judgment on the unrepentant. Yet, He does not do so with joy. He came to seek and save the lost. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
There are two groups of three cities in this passage of woes. Christ had done many mighty miracles in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, but they did not repent. Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were all Gentile cities of old that were destroyed by God. Chief among the most corrupt of cities was Sodom which was known for its immorality and God rained down fire and brimstone on them. Christ affirms a few things in verse twenty through twenty-four: first, the three cities which were destroyed would have repented in sackcloth and ashes (a sign of true repentance in the Orient) and would have lasted until that day had they experienced the presence and power of Christ in their midst; second, there are degrees of punishment in eternity which is seen in the “more tolerable” phrase; third, Christ had made Capernaum His hometown and had done numerous mighty things, but the people did not repent. Therefore, they were far worse than the city of Sodom!
You Have Hidden These Things (25-27)
Next, we read a short prayer of Christ. Jesus is first thankful that His ministry is not only for the privileged. Can the wealthy be saved? Yes. Can the well-educated be saved? Yes. Second, He reflects on His relationship with the Father. Third, while talking about that relationship He states God’s sovereignty in our relation to Him. We do not have time to discuss this paragraph much today, but let us be satisfied in this: no one knows the Son unless the Father beckons you unto Him. No one knows the Father unless the Son reveals Him to you. Today is the day of salvation. God is calling you with His mighty word of power today to know Him, to come unto Him and be saved.
I Will Give You Rest (28-30)
The last paragraph is most famous. The teachers of the Law had started a tradition that likened the Law of Moses (the Old Testament) to a yoke. Now, I didn't grow up on a farm, maybe some of you did, but we all know what a yoke is. You place it on the animals necks to bind them together for work. The people heard the scribes and Pharisees talk about the yoke of the Law time and again. They knew that the yoke of the Pharisees was heavy and burdensome. It was too much to bear. Jesus comes along and says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. There is still work to be done as a Christian, but it is much easier than what the teachers of the first-century burdened the people with. We are to follow the law of Christ, the royal law which is mainly to love God and others. We are empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit of promise. We may rest in faith knowing that Christ has done all of the work for salvation and the Spirit has come to dwell within us to do the work of sanctification.
Conclusion and Application
When the Lord comes to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, He gives an illustration of building a house. He says:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matt 7)
1. In the words of John the Baptizer, bear fruits worthy of repentance.
2. There is no rest apart from repentance and life in Christ.
3. Jesus does not promise that we will escape a hard life on this side of heaven, but He does promise that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
4. Christ does not point us to the Law, but to Himself.