Matthew 11

A child is playing happily then something is broken.

“What happened here?”, you ask.  “Who did this?”

What answer do you expect?

“It’s not my fault!” Is the standard reply.

Of course, now that you are a big, grown-up adult you don’t use this reply, do you?

It’s not my fault!

To be honest, isn’t it the normal first response you make even though over the last how many decades it actually has been your fault more often than not.

Over time it has become harder and harder to hold onto the claim, “it’s not my fault.”

We don’t have good role models in our leaders here, do we?  For example, do you hear public leaders accepting blame, or do you hear them telling us it’s not their fault?

While the first reaction to go for is “it’s not my fault” sometimes it’s simpler to just accept the blame.  Whatever it is, it probably is my fault. You try this approach hoping that at least it will settle the matter and we don’t have to carry on about it.

Pitiful, isn’t it?

As Christian people, people who are children of God, rather than demonstrate mature adulthood we still tend to act like spoiled brats.

Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 11:16-17

16 ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others:

17 ‘ “We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”

Not fair! Not fair! You don’t play fair! You don’t play by my rules!

Then we sulk and complain, behaving like spoiled brats.

They gave this treatment to John the Baptist and to Jesus himself.

Matthew 11:18-19

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’

People make up their own picture as to how John the Baptist should have behaved and they make up their own picture as to how Jesus should have behaved, and these pictures are so much in conflict with reality that they miss the truth each of them gave to us.

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, he would overlook my faults, he wouldn’t judge me, he wouldn’t blame me.  

Most people don’t know what Jesus actually said but are happy to tell you what a real Christian is like. A real Christian would do this, a real Christian would do that, or a real Christian would do what I think. It’s much easier to have Jesus fit a description you make up yourself than to  find out the reality given to us in the Bible. 

When some people don’t like it when they are told what Jesus teachings really are they dismiss them or perhaps explain them away.  They might tell you what those teachings really mean, which is to say, they will tell you what they’d like them to be. 

I’ll call the tune.  I’ll play the pipe. Jesus, you dance to my tune.

Spoiled brats.

You see it in our own times and culture. So many people want to make up their own version of who Jesus is, ignoring his message. Jesus preached, “repent, for the kingdom of God is near you”. They edit his teaching to suit themselves rather than accept that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, the Lord of lords, King of kings, he who rules the universe from his seat at the right hand of God.

Then there’s that other childish mistake I am sure most of us have been tempted with. That’s those times we desperately want Jesus to do something for us, to answer an urgent prayer so we try to bargain with him. If you do this I’ll do that. Answer this prayer and I’ll become a Christian. Show me a miracle and I’ll believe in you. Like piping the tune. 

It is standard, human manipulative behaviour. Give me what I want or we won’t be friends, or you’ll offend me, or you’re being unchristian, or you’re being un-Australian.

This is not wise, reasonable or mature behaviour. It is simply the rebellious behaviour of spoiled brats and there are consequences for such behaviour.

Look at the warnings Jesus gave because it’s our job as Christians, as a church, to make sure people know what they are. 

Matthew 11:20-24

20Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’

God has always made it plain how he expects us to behave.  First through the laws he gave to Moses now applied to us through the teachings of Jesus and his apostles.

There were practices in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which were contrary to God’s standards and his judgement fell on these cities after two angels in the form of men visited Abraham’s cousin Lot there.  Rather than repent of their sin the men of the city demanded that the two visiting men come out so they could have sex with them. The very name of the city lives on when we call that sin sodomy.

God made sure that these angelic men, along with Lot and his family, escaped from Sodom when the city and its people was destroyed.

Although they suffered destruction in different ways to Sodom there’s not much left of Chorazin or of Bethsaida today either, just as Jesus predicted. The ultimate judgements of Tyre, Sidon and Caperneum will one day be revealed.  But what was the sin in those places that earns them a fate worse than that of Sodom?

It was their failure to repent. 

Jesus denounced those towns because they did not repent. 

We are not told what they needed to repent of, what specific sins they had committed.  But do we really need or even want to know the specifics of their sin to know that they needed to repent?  If we had a chance to ask them for the details you can be pretty sure they would tell us, “it’s not my fault”. You don’t really need to repent when it’s not your fault, do you?

The authority and power of Jesus was clearly demonstrated to them by way of miracles. The contrast between them and Jesus was obvious! He is perfect, powerful and in charge. They were not. We are not.

All have sinned and fall short of the standards of God.  All need to repent, to confess our sinful nature, even our sins, and acknowledge that, to be honest, it is my fault.

Of course, it would be encouraging to see a few miracles in person today.  Even one would do.   And we wouldn’t be the first to ask for one. 

Several times Jesus was asked to prove himself by performing miracles.  The Pharisees asked for some.  Even the apostles asked for a demonstration. In each case he turned them down. He wasn’t into tricks and games.  His miracles were for a purpose. It was wonderful when he healed the blind man.  The blind man was delighted. But the main purpose of the healing was to bring glory to his father, the God of all power. 

He told them that the sign he would give them was the sign of Jonah.

Jesus has now verified His truth, just as He promised in this passage and he pointed out that “…for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt. 12:40). 

The Gospels contain the record of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus told the scoffers and skeptics what He was going to do…and He did it. No one else has!

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ rising from the dead is all the proof that is needed to believe in Him, “…[he] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Romans 1:4). 

This verse, along with many others, declares that there is no scarcity of evidence for the reality of God and, while some modern day miracles would be wonderful and encouraging, all the proof we need is the resurrection of Jesus. It is only the hardness of the human heart that refuses to surrender to Him as God.

How can we help those whose heart is hardened, who cannot bring themselves to admit they are sinful and need to repent?  Follow Jesus’ example and pray for them. 

Matthew 11: 25-27

At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

There are only a few people we can help, support or provide for physically, personally or financially.  There are so many people suffering in so many ways in our world, even in our town.  We must admit that we are so much more fortunate than so many people, in fact we must admit we are more than fortunate.  We are so very blessed; God has been so very good to us.

One special way in which we are blessed is that we don’t have to be wise and learned to understand that Jesus became God in the flesh.  Jesus demonstrated a perfect human life. He teaches us all how to follow his example. 

But even more, he was crucified as the perfect once and for all payment for our sins.  He was raised from the dead in power and authority.

And this happened to him even though it wasn’t his fault but because it’s ours.

So completely did Jesus uniquely do what he was called to do we know with confidence that no one comes to God the Father except through Jesus.  He is the one and only way. “No-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

We understand this not because we are wise and learned but because it was revealed to us his children by Jesus himself. His Holy Spirit has been at work in you, revealing these truths to you.

This is called love. It’s grace. It’s mercy. It’s a free gift. It’s salvation. It’s a blessing. It’s praiseworthy. It’s wonderful!

It comes with eternal comfort.

Share with those who do not know these truths and pray for them that Jesus would reveal it to them because there is a wonderful invitation here when Jesus said, 

Matthew 11: 28-29 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

There are times in life and circumstances which are wearisome and burdensome. 

When you come to Jesus as your saviour you take him as your teacher, your lord, your king, your ruler, your boss. It is wonderful to be yoked to him, linked or joined to him. You cannot help but go where he goes, living life together, getting the job done together.

You take him as a partner and friend, a gentle, humble partner and friend. 

The yoke you share with Jesus means you share your load with him but a shared load is lighter and the burden is easier. 

Being with Jesus like this is restful, peaceful. He never asks of you more than you can bear and he helps you bear it.

What a wonderful invitation to have received. How wonderful that we have accepted it and are enabled by it.

When there are so many people who are weary and burdened the very least we can do for them is to pass on this invitation. Whatever help we can offer others will never be enough if we fail to pray for them and tell them of Jesus’ invitation.

1436 Modified: 19-08-2023
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