Notes on Matthew 11
The point of this exercise--blogging through Matthew--is simply to put into writing the thoughts and impressions that "rise to the surface" as I read through the Gospel of Matthew. It is not to “study” Matthew by using various helps, or to speak comprehensively or authoritatively, as if with a settled understnading. I make not pretense at exegetical expertise. As I’ve said before, I’m trying to recognize the arc of the story, see each passage in context, and simply make note of my fleeting impressions.
There's a new note of urgency in this chapter. Jesus has been healing and preaching, and crowds have been gathering, eager to receive from him, and yet there must also have been resistance, and not only from carping Pharisees. Jesus suggests that the proper response should have been repentance (see v.21), but it has not been forthcoming on the scale that he, Jesus, had perhaps hoped for. This "disappointment" seems to lie behind those "woe unto you" passages here.
And yet, the chapter ends with an invitation.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”The yoke is Christ's teaching, his message, and the heavy yoke is that teaching which has heretofore been weighing people down. [see Mt. 23:23]
Also in theis chapter, Jesus speaks of John the Baptist, describing him at a latter-day Elijah, pointing the way to the coming Lord. Pointing to Jesus. On this grounds alone--on the grounds that he pointed out Jesus--he is called the greatest "among those born of women."
Pretty amazing, no? D. A. Carson, in his devotional For the Love of God, V.2, says that our own greatness lies solely here--we "point out who the Messiah is with even more immediacy and explicitness."