An Invitation in the Presence of my Enemies – Matthew 11:28-30

yoke (1)Matthew 11-13 chronicles the rising opposition to Jesus.  Again remember that Matthew gathers material thematically.  So it is interesting that in the midst of this we have this sequence in Matthew 11

  • A warning to those who do not repent because of the works of Christ – v. 20-24. this is the very shocking idea that it will go better for Sodom than for the towns near Nazareth.
  • A statement that the Lord hides things from the wise and reveals them to the child-like – v. 25-26
  • A Christocentric claim that all has been given to Christ, including knowledge of the Father. – v. 27
  • An invitation to the weary to take on Jesus’ yoke – v. 2-30

So we have a sort of Calvinist proof text in the verses on God hiding and revealing things – the wise (in their own eyes) can not see what is there because God hides it from them, and yet the childlike (willing to be taught? dependent?) have these things revealed.

This is followed by an open invitation to “all” who are weary and heavy laden, who are invited to “come” and “take my yoke”.  As is often the case the scriptures juxtapose Calvinist and Arminian verses right next to each other.  And most will chose the one they like and explain away or diminish the one they don’t.  Whereas the scriptures are happy to leave them side by side, seeing not a contradiction but some kind of harmony.

What is also of interest, is that the open invitation is “to all who are weary and burdened”.  This does not limit the invitation from Jesus’ enemies.

I have often wondered at the expression in Psalm 23 “You have prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies.”  Why are there enemies present?  Is the psalmist gloating?  Is the table and the cup that overflows some kind of invitation?  Some of the language of Psalm 23 suggests the desert wanderings of Israel after the Exodus.

In Matthew, one of the most open and inviting passages is placed right in the center of the time where Jesus is being opposed and eventually rejected.  In the middle of this life and death conflict, the invitation remained open “to all who are weary and heavy laden.”  Opposition to Jesus leads to something that is worse than Sodom at the last judgment.  Yet acceptance of Jesus yields a well fit yoke that is not burdensome, but rather a yoke that gives rest.

 

 

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Vacation Over

sermonizerI have a running gag on Facebook about the status of the Sermonizer.  The name has it’s origins in the “transmorgifyer” in Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.  One gets inspiration in many places.  No one has seen the sermonizer.

Sermonizing is a complex process. It involves both analysis and study as well as a bit of artsy reflection on shape and form.  It is important to think of the people who will be there on Sunday, which is a constantly changing mystery.  The whole process should be started as early as possible, but usually isn’t.  It is humbling to think, “Now that one is Gone” when we get to the final song.  It is also humbling to think, “Oh, that is what I could have said!” after it is over.

All preachers should be Calvinists (not the kid with the tiger, the theologian from Geneva) when it comes to entrusting the effort we put in to the sovereignty of God.  It is a fools exercise, but then as the text says, “the foolishness of God is stronger than the strength of man.”

This preacher has advice for you who listen:  Take what you receive as the work of a servant; and pray for the preachers.