In today's study from Matthew 11:20-30, we see a change in the tone of our Lord as the message of the kingdom is being rejected.
v.20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
From this point forward, Jesus’ message begins to change because the Kingdom is being rejected. The kingdom had been preached by John, the apostles and the Lord Himself, but they still refused to accept it.
Now Comes Judgment
vv.21-24 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (22) But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. (23) And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (24) But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Now He begins to predict judgment! Of course, the final rejection was after the Triumphal Entry, the Cleansing of the Temple and the Cursing of the Fig Tree (Matthew 21:1-20). This event was followed by his trial and subsequent crucifixion.
The Kingdom Hidden
v.25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Now, our Lord begins to shift his attention from the rebellious to the faithful. The expression “thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent is tongue in cheek. It seems that only the simple can understand it! Truth be known, it was hidden because they had been blinded by the god of this world. Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 4:3-4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Mark records that
they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. (Mar 10:13-15)."
Delivered Unto Me
vv.26-27 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. (27) All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Now Jesus is making it clear that to reject him is to reject the Father. Notice, “All things are delivered unto me…” What things? - Everything including salvation. The message is narrowing. Our Lord said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
vv.28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
There it is again! It’s a noticeable shift in the Lord’s teaching and message. The kingdom is being rejected and he is now beginning to focus on the ones who would receive it. Again, the message is narrowing in that he is no longer speaking to the nation but to the individual. He is in essence saying, “Come into my Kingdom where the burdens and yokes are still there but easier.” Barnes says that he was offering freedom to those who “groaned under the weight of their ceremonial laws and the traditions of the elders.”
Didn’t Get It
It’s amazing that the disciples did not get this shift in Jesus’ message. They would still argue who would be greatest in the Kingdom (Mar 9:34). They would still be expecting the Kingdom to immediately appear upon arrival in Jerusalem (Luk 19:11). Even after the resurrection, they didn’t get it (Acts 1:6).