Summary: Who Jesus is in your midn will determine how you respond to him
Story: A number of years ago, a young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy.
This was one of the questions:
You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.
On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby.
Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured.
You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA.
A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery.
Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.
Another man is crying for help, having been blown in the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim.
Describe in a few words what actions you would take.
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
In a similar way, Matthew 11 is all about IDENTITY .
Who is Jesus?
Mt Chapter 5-10 relate to the miraculous signs and wonders – the works of Christ referred to in Mt 11:2 - that Jesus has done
And Chapter 11 opens with John the Baptist sending a message to ask Jesus if he really is the Messiah (Mt 11:2-19).
Why – because Jesus did not fit the “all conquering hero” concept that the Jews were expecting of the Messiah.
Then Jesus goes on to castigate Chorazin and Bethsaida because they did not recognize him – and respond to his call to repent
And then in verses 25-20 Jesus calls his disciples into a closer relationship – a privileged relationship – where we can entriust our problems to him
28"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."
And as Blaise Pascal once put it:
“Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.”
I think the key to understanding the rest of it can be summed up saying,
Who is Jesus?
The religious people rejected Jesus just as they had rejected John the Baptist
For them John was too asture
For them Jesus simply mixed socially with “the wrong people”
But Jesus tells them that they are missing the boat because everything we know about God the Father comes ONLY from Jesus
That is quite a stunning claim.
And there are three elements to this claim from our Gospel reading this morning that I think can impact our lives
1. First of all Jesus maintains that God the Father conceals ands reveals according to his will.
We read in the Gospel this morning:
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 (Mt 11:25)
It is simply grace that we can know God – it is not something we earn – or we can discover by dint of intellect.
No wonder Jesus said unless we become like little children we will not enter the Kingdom of God. Little children love and depend on their parents – as we are called to love and depend on God
And this will keep us humble enough in our
prayer time to ask God to show us more of himself from the Scriptures and not rely on our own understanding
2. Secondly only Jesus can reveal God to us
As Michael Green put it:
“Great people have of course discovered many true and noble things ABOUT God.”
But Jesus reveals God as the Abba of the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus taught his disciples (it is interesting to note) to address God as our Father
Sometimes the English language is weak in definitions
In German for example there are two words translated “to know”
Wissen is to know a fact
Kennen is to know a person
Jesus brings us to know (kennen) the person of God the Father.
Story: When Mahatma Gandhi was dying, one of his relatives came and said:
“Babaki, You have been looking for God all your life. Have you found him yet?
“No”, Gandhi replied “I am still looking for him”
It is grace that Jesus reveals the Father to us when we become Christians.