Read: Matthew 11-12
Matthew wants to make sure we are clear on this: Jesus is The Messiah. The blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, the dead rise, and the gospel is proclaimed! This is the great news they’ve been waiting to hear, but some can’t understand because Jesus’ yoke is light, He didn’t provide hundreds of rules for people to follow. It’s in this simplicity that we find complexity. It is easy to understand, but challenging to accept. Yet here it is, plain and simple:
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:4-6
Yes, John, your life has not been in vain, though Herod is about to take it. Yes, disciples of John, Jesus is the real deal, the one your ministry team has been longing for. Honor John for his incredible character, accept the endorsement Jesus himself provides in Matthew 11:7-14, but let’s keep moving forward!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Very few of us have any real appreciation for the quote above, unless you’re part of a megachurch…then the yoke of rules is crazy. Still, I doubt we have anything that compares to that of the 613 laws the Pharisees developed in an effort to keep Israel on track*. The concept was valid since the Israelites were notoriously bad at staying focused. They wandered far from God for any excuse, so it makes sense that the Levites would develop rules to help. Jesus, however, reveals that they have lost their way in trying not to lose their way. His way is much simpler, even if it’s hard to understand because of its simplicity.
Our world of super intelligent, over-educated masses, has a similar problem. We, the college-educated (and therefore super intelligent), want scientific answers, proofs and intellectually stimulating evidence. The concept of faith seems lost, but is it really? I think not! We must not buy into Satan’s scheme here. Faith definitely wins and intelligent arguments do exist. It’s just difficult to explain faith and therefore we tend to shy away from the discussion.
In Mark Mittleberg’s book, The Ten Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, he begins by telling a story that explains how we actually have more faith in the secular world than many believe. From the very beginning of the book, Mittleberg provides the story of how he met his wife and their loving relationship over the course of 20+ years. I wasn’t sure where he was going with that until he provided this insight: “But can I prove it to you? Can I show you our love for each other in a tangible way – one that you can see, hear, or touch? No, the love itself is invisible.” You don’t have to be a Christ follower to get it.
We should not place the yoke of faith on someone who has yet to accept Christ, but we should not shy away from the concept of faith — everyone has faith!
The Pharisees remain unconvinced, wrapped in their own warped world of wanting rules and recognition for their sacrifices. I get it. If I memorized the entire Pentateuch and could recite any passage on a whim, I would want some appreciation for the difficulty of the task and my amazing commitment to the Word. Right? It’s great to have knowledge, but better to have love. That simple truth is more than our modern culture can swallow all at once. Be patient.
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, though the Pharisees don’t get it (Matthew 12:1-14).
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Matthew 12:24
These two “but” verses should get our attention. Lord, help us to avoid being “but” people. Pour into our conscious minds the present reality of the Holy Spirit living inside of us — we have the capability of overcoming these obstacles.
Toward the end of chapter 12, I’m reminded of a song I wrote some years ago.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45
Put Your Beauty In Mine is all primarily about the indwelling of the Spirit–a rather difficult concept for those who are far from Christ. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, when our beauty is replaced by the beauty of Christ, we are perfect in his eyes. We have the capacity, but do we have the faith?
So much to consider this morning. Lord, help us to keep it simple and love you fully! Let this love pour out of our thoughts and deeds so we may be Your effective witnesses working to expand the harvest in the ripe fields directly in front of us today.