The least greater than the greatest
Matthew 11:7-30 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
20 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” This statement confirms and affirms how much greater the kingdom of God and heaven is than this physical realm we live in. If the least in one kingdom exceeds the greatest in another, why would anyone choose the lesser? Yet in many ways we all do. We strive to excel and advance, to raise our standing among men. In Matthew 6:27 Jesus says: “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? In truth all of our work, all of our striving in this world, will not change or affect our eternal standing. Jesus completes His point in verse 33 saying: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
To seek God’s kingdom is to seek Him. The psalmist says: Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Psalm 37:3-5) Even as we dwell in the land, doing what we need to do in this world, it is faithfulness that we should cultivate. As we delight in the Lord, focusing first and foremost on Him, trusting in Him, He will give us our hearts desire. He will accomplish that two ways. First He will indeed give us all that we need. But also by delighting in God, seeking His kingdom, our hearts and so our hearts desires become aligned with His heart and His desire. Philippians 4:19 says: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God will give us everything we need. He will not though supply all of our greed or our lust. It is not that we are to live in a way which lacks. Jesus says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Just as the least in the kingdom of heaven exceeds the greatest in the world, so too, the abundance of life in Christ exceeds anything the world can offer.
Jesus ends today’s text saying: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.” Trying to work in our own strength, striving to keep up and get ahead in this world indeed wears people out. Stress and anxiety, despair and depression are at all time highs in our culture and our society. People medicate themselves in a variety of ways to try to find peace and rest. The truth is the yoke of Christ is not a rest of slumber and inactivity. A yoke is an instrument of work. It teams two together in order to more efficiently accomplish what needs to be done. The promise of Christ is that we will have an abundant life in and through Him. If we will work and walk with Him, aligning ourselves with His will, He will do the work. The yoke of Christ does not hold us back or restrict us, rather yoked to Him: I (we) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (us). (Philippians 4:13)
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for providing all things through the cross and the resurrection. Thank You for allowing me to work and walk with You, to have all that You have provided, an abundant life and rest for my soul. Amen