Transition: I invite you to take your copy of God’s Word and turn to Matthew 11:25-30.
In Scripture, the heart is the center for spiritual, physical, and mental life for human beings. The heart represents the person as a whole. Biblically, who you are at heart is who you are at the deepest level of your being.
If I were to ask you how you would describe yourself, at the deepest level of your being – the heart, what would you say? Would you say that you are kind, loving, patient, or gracious? All of these characteristic traits are good, but what if I shifted the question just a little?
How would you describe your heart, not toward people who act like you, look like you, or people who act like they have it all together, but to those whose lives are messy, sinful, different, wearisome, and burdensome?
Here is another question for self-examination, would those who are broken and weary from their sin consider you a safe place to come to for gospel hope and comfort? Or does our lifestyle and posture toward weary sinners display a heart that is hard, self-righteous, and proud?
It is here in Matthew 11:25-30 that we will see who Jesus is at His heart toward the weary and heavy-laden, and it is here that we, who know Christ as Lord, I hope and pray will imitate the heart of Christ toward sinners by the power of the Spirit. And I hope that those who are weary in heart today will come to experience personally the heart of our Lord Jesus as you embrace Him in faith and repentance.
Please stand, if you are able, for the reading of the Word of God: Matthew 11:25-30
This morning I want us to study five points from God’s Word:
- The Revealing – v. 25-27
- The Coming – v. 28
- The Weary – v. 28
- The Rest – v. 28
- The Heart of Christ – v. 29-30
- The Revealing – v. 25-27
Our text begins with Matthew saying “at that time…”, reminding us that what he is about to tell us is right after Jesus gave the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum stern judgment for their failure to repent despite seeing many of the miracles that Jesus did, authenticating Him as the promised Messiah. Jesus’ next move is to turn to the Father in prayer. Jesus offers a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for how the Father has chosen to reveal Jesus’ true identity and the kingdom of God.
- The Revealed Plan of Redemption is a Delight within the Trinity
It is here in Matthew 11:25-27 that we see the sweet delight that the Godhead has within Himself in the plan of redemption. Jesus says, here in verse 25, “I praise You, Father…” and in verse 26, “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” What is Jesus praising the Father for? He is praising the Father for God’s preordained plan of redemption in Christ through the power of the Spirit here in verse 27. This is significant on two accounts:
1) Jesus has all authority given to Him by the Father to save sinners. It is this same authority that Jesus will proclaim about Himself as He sends His disciples out in Matthew 28 in the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, not in the confidence and authority of their own ability to convert sinners, but in trusting the authority Jesus has to grant life to what is spiritually dead. All whom the Son wills to reveal the Father, He will reveal to Him – This revealing of who Jesus is and the kingdom of God is not based upon the will or work of the sinner, but on God who has mercy.
2) Jesus praises the Father in the plan of redemption. The Father is not some angry person in the Trinity up in the heavens desiring to condemn weary sinners as Christ holds Him back. No, the Father is delighted to be in the work of gracious redemption, so much that our redemption is ordained by Him in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.
In the plan of redemption, the Father delights to choose us to be revealed to the Son before the foundation of the world, the Son delights in accomplishing for us the work of our redemption, and the Spirit delights in applying the finished work of Christ to us. The apostle Paul spoke clearly on this in Ephesians 1:3-6:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
To put simply, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, delight in saving weary sinners and revealing to them that which they would be unable to attain in their own fallen condition, namely faith and repentance in Jesus Christ.
- Redemption is Revealed: not due to Natural Wisdom and Intelligence, but of the Sovereign Will of God
Jesus says to the Father, “You have hidden these things (Jesus’ true identity and the kingdom of God) from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants” (v. 25). Jesus praised the Father that He reveals the true identity of the Son of Man not just to the intellectuals and scholars, the religious elite like the Pharisees as was the apostle Paul. But Jesus is revealed to the infants – the lowly in the community – the fishermen, the hated tax collectors, the forgotten and abused.
Even the most educated man in all of Palestine in the first century, Saul of Tarsus, who would become known as the apostle Paul, understood that he had only come to Christ because of the grace of God. The man who was the largest threat to the church has become the greatest missionary for the church, and what does Paul have to say about His transformed life? He says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…”
There is no people group by default or work we can accomplish that can make us worthy of God’s redeeming love. If anyone is going to be born-again, converted, and made alive with Christ, it is going to be a work of grace from start to finish. No one has ever come to Jesus apart from grace.
I believe that Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 can shine additional helpful light here in regards to this revealing of the true identity of Christ and the kingdom of God: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, and not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.’”
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not revealed to those who have a certain IQ, it is not revealed to those who deem themselves as wise and intelligent, popular, and wealthy. Furthermore, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the knowledge of who He truly is, has not been revealed to anyone because of anything in and of themselves, but only because of God’s sovereign gracious will in election, God’s choosing of sinners unto salvation on the basis of mercy and not works.
In just a few chapters ahead in Matthew 16:16-17, we see this sovereign revealing of Jesus’ identity in the life of Peter. After Jesus has asked Peter, “who do you say I am?”, Peter responds with, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What does Jesus say next? Well done, Peter! Your finite, fallen mind has reasoned naturally that I am the Son of God! No, Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not know the Father and the Son because we chose God among better alternatives. If our salvation was rooted in our own wisdom and intelligence to choose Christ, we have room to boast in our salvation. If the gospel is only cherished and upheld by those who are wise and intelligent, those who are well-studied and seminary trained, then salvation is no longer of grace, but works.
Glory no longer belongs to Christ, but to us. If you trust in Christ today as Savior and Lord, it is because the Son has chosen to reveal the Father to you, and the Father has chosen to reveal the Son to you, and the Spirit has chosen to apply the finished work of Jesus to your life in divine mercy and grace. As Paul says in Romans 9:16 in regards to man’s will and God’s sovereignty in salvation, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” “All things have been handed over to Me” says Jesus in verse 27. Christ ordains all things that come to pass according to His own will, including the salvation of sinners.
Let this be an encouragement to you brothers and sisters as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission to our family, friends, loved ones, and strangers. Anyone can come to the Father if the Son wills to reveal Him. The burden of salvation is not on your shoulders. God has not called us to do what only He can do, open the blind eyes of sinners and grant them faith. God has simply called us to proclaim this good news of Jesus to all who will listen in grace and truth and to leave the results to God. Anyone can be saved, no matter how vile they may seem. If the Lord is willing to save a sinner, He will use our obedience to share the gospel as the means by which He grants new life in Himself. Do not give up in your personal evangelism. Keep sharing the gospel, do not give up hope. Pray for the Lord to be willing to save, and if He is, He will surely do it.
The plan of redemption is a delight according to the sovereign will of God; we now turn to verse 28 to see how Jesus calls those whom the Father has given Him.
2. The Coming – v. 28
- A Sovereign Coming
Because God’s divine plan of redemption is rooted in God Himself, and not man, our coming to Jesus for those whom the Father is pleased to reveal the Son is a sovereign coming. Jesus’ invitation to come to Him here is not a hopeful wish that a few poor sinners might discover in their own wisdom and intelligence to the true identity of Christ and be saved; no, this coming is of divine intervention that reaches to weary sinners where they are. This is an invitation that does not require the sinner to change in order to come, but God meets the sinner where he or she is. This is an invitation, that when given to the weary, is irresistible.
Jesus says in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” Notice the certainty and confidence of the coming that Jesus has in the weary sinners to come. Jesus’ confidence in weary sinners coming to Him for rest is not in the sinner, but in the God who is calling the sinner to come.
This call to come to Jesus is like my call to my two-year-old daughter in the morning as she wakes up. Every morning, Alley or I will walk into Anna Beth’s room, look at her in the crib and say, “Good morning! It is time to get out of bed.” We know that our daughter is unable to get out of bed on her own. Yet, we still call her to do what is necessary. However, we do not just stand at the crib and wait for her to climb out, something she is unable to do (thankfully!). We reach down into the crib as we call her to get out of bed. Our daughter’s coming to us is not in her ability to come, but our ability to reach down where she is and pick her up.
Likewise with the call of Jesus to come to Him. It is an invitation that God meets for us. Now, I am not saying we are robots in our salvation. No one comes to Jesus kicking and screaming. God’s grace in salvation does not just reach down to lowly and weary sinners, it reaches down and transforms our very desires. It opens our eyes. The darkness of sin we once loved we now hate. Christ becomes beautiful to us. We come to Him. It is in this moment of regeneration that Jesus becomes sweet and we no longer run from the Light, but desire to abide in it. The doctrine of election tends to always get a bad rap, and it is because many people think God forces people to come to Him. This is not so, God’s grace is so powerful that it changes the desires of the human heart so that we can freely choose to embrace Christ with our whole heart, mind, and soul. Grace would not be grace if it did not have the power to do what we cannot in our own fallen ability, namely come to Jesus freely, joyfully, and in repentance.
- A Personal Coming
Notice here in this phrase that Jesus does not call us to come to a set of doctrines or a church building. Jesus calls us to come to Himself. This coming is a personal coming. “Come to Me.” Christianity is not about coming to a set of doctrine, a specific church, or even to a set of good works. These are all vital and have their place. But Christianity is fundamentally about coming to a person in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is about sinners being reunited in fellowship with their Maker, no longer being separated from God due to our sin, but being redeemed through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
I wonder, Christian, is this how you identify your life? Do you so see the whole of your life consumed in the person of Christ? Are we like Paul and can join him in saying, “I live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:20), or “To live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). Or, have we begun to believe that Christianity is simply about all we can do and offer God. May I remind you, that Christianity is supremely about what Jesus has done for you, before it is ever about what you can do in His name. Return to your first love. We work from our place of grace, mercy, and love, not for it.
- The Only Place to Come
Finally, in these three amazing words, we see one final point for us to consider in this phrase “Come to Me.” Come to Jesus, and only Jesus. Jesus is the only place to come. There is only one place weary sinners can go for rest – Jesus. There is no other god or worldly endeavors that we can pursue that can give us the rest only found in Christ. Money can’t give us rest. Lust can’t give us rest. Popularity can’t give us rest. Politics can’t give us rest. Entertainment can’t give us rest. Nothing will give us eternal rest apart from Jesus.
Jesus says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” As food and drink are necessary for physical life, Jesus is proclaiming that He, and only He, is necessary for spiritual life. As food and drink bring physical rest, strength, and stamina, likewise Jesus does for us spiritually. There is only one way God the Father has ordained for weary sinners to come to Him and it is through His Son – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6).
The coming to Jesus is a sovereign, personal, and lone place of rest. Let us now look to who Jesus calls to embrace this rest within Himself – the weary.
3. The Weary – v. 28
Notice first here that Jesus is not calling all people to Himself in this text. Jesus has a specific people group to whom He is calling, “all who are weary and heavy-laden.” This is a certain type of sinner, but before we get to this type of sinner, let us first consider who this is not.
- Not the Boastful and Proud
The weary are not boastful and proud. The weary are not those who believe they have no need for their sins to be pardoned. The weary are not those who think the cross is foolishness. The weary are not those who view their own self-righteousness as worthy to be justified by God because of their obedience to their own moral standard. The Bible could not be more clear. God opposes the boastful and proud.
“The proud look of man will be abased (brought low) and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” – Isaiah 2:11
“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled…” – Matthew 23:12a
“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
– 1 Peter 5:5
Jesus is not calling the boastful and the proud, for they are not weary.
- Not those who Love Worldly Pleasures
The weary are not those who love worldly pleasures. The apostle John says in 1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” The weary are not those continuing to seek their fulfillment, identity, and satisfaction in the things of the world. The weary are not those who are seeking, willfully, the temporary pleasures of sin.
Jesus is not calling those who love worldly pleasures, for they are not the weary.
- But those whose Sins make them Weary
The weary are those whose sins make them weary and heavy-laden, and long for the grace of Jesus Christ. They are like David in Psalm 38:4, “For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.” Friend, are your sins weighing you down? Are your sins too heavy of a burden for you to carry? Do not do what so many sinners often do as they look within this fallen world for rest that cannot be found as their burdens become heavier and heavier by the day. Dear friend, come to Jesus.
Do not be fearful that your weariness makes you unwanted and unloved by the Savior. In fact, your weariness and burdens do not disqualify you to come, but qualify you to come to the Master to find eternal rest in Him. Are you weary of searching the world in all its folly for contentment, peace, and rest? Do you long for your burden to be lifted? Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You do not need to unburden yourself to come, you just must simply come to Jesus in faith.
Brothers and sisters, has the political unrest and chaos of our times caused you to forget where you get your rest? Have we who have come to experience this eternal and all-satisfying rest in Jesus now begun to look elsewhere for hope, contentment, and joy? May I remind us all: We do not place our hope in Capitol Hill or who sits in the Oval Office. Our hope is in the One who sits on the throne of heaven, who holds the nations in His hand, and is the source of our rest. May we fix our eyes back on the Lord Jesus and not weary ourselves by placing hope in what is fallen and plagued under the curse of sin.
Let us look now to what Jesus gives the weary who come to Him – rest.
4. The Rest – v. 28
- Guaranteed Rest
First, Jesus tells weary sinners that He will give them rest. Jesus WILL do it. It is a guaranteed rest. Some of us may come to promises given to God’s people in His Word with skepticism and doubt because of all the promises that people have broken in your own life. You have been lied to. You have been wronged. You have been abused. Not so with Jesus. Jesus is a promise-keeper. He does what He says He will do, and for weary sinners, that is giving you rest. For those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior, you can trust Jesus to give you rest. He will not wrong you, abuse you, or turn you away.
- Gracious Rest
Secondly, notice that this rest is gracious. Christ says I will GIVE you rest. The rest Jesus gives to the weary is not a transaction, it is a gift. Bring nothing but your burdens to Jesus, and He will give you what none of us deserve, rest. Isaiah helps us get an ever better picture of the heart of God in this gracious rest in Isaiah 55:1-3:
“‘Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me…”
Have no good deeds to offer God? Have no perfect past? Then come, your sins qualify you for the Savior, where your rest in Him is not what you deserve, but what you receive out of the abundance of His own grace.
- Rest that is Sweet now, Glorious Later
Finally, in this point of rest, may we remind ourselves that the rest we receive from Jesus is sweet now, but far more glorious later. How is His rest sweet now? Well, it is explicitly sweet in that the burdens of your sins that made you weary are now completely forgiven and atoned for in Christ. The fear and weight of condemnation has been lifted from you.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 8:1
This rest does not promise you a prosperous life of no trials, tribulations, or temptations. This rest also does not promise you wealth or fame. However, it does offer you something far greater, peace with God.
How does our rest in Jesus become more glorious later? It becomes more glorious when our faith becomes sight, and the presence of sin, death, pain, and suffering are no more. This is the glorious rest we who are in Christ long for and rejoice that it is coming soon. This rest is highlighted in Revelation 21:1-4:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
Our rest in Jesus is sweet now, but oh, how much more glorious it will be later. As we come to the final two verses of our text this morning, I want us to shift our attention to the heart of Christ.
5. The Heart of Christ – v. 29-30
- Gentle and Humble
Matthew 11:29 is the only place in the gospels that we see Jesus reveal to His audience about His own heart. May we not move past this text quickly without considering the weight of how the Son of God chooses to define His own heart. Jesus could have said that He is holy and just in heart, righteous and blameless, sovereign and true, and all of these things would be true. However, Jesus chooses to define His heart as gentle and humble. Gentle and humble. This is who Jesus is. Jesus is gentle and humble.
For sinners, the heart is at the root of the problem. The Bible pronounces in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” However, for Jesus, His heart has never been sick. His heart is gentle and humble. Furthermore, His heart is not repelled by your sick heart. Jesus’ heart toward our sick hearts is like that of a doctor. Our sickness does not make the doctor flee, it draws the doctor to us because He knows that only He can provide the remedy we so desperately need. Jesus’ heart loves to save sick and weary hearts.
What are we to make of His heart? Does gentle and humble mean Jesus is soft? It does not mean soft, as we have seen in this very chapter Jesus has just denounced the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Jesus is not soft. Jesus is gentle and humble. This is who He is at heart, meaning He is not sometimes gentle and humble, and other times He is something else. Jesus is always gentle and humble whether He is executing judgment or mercy, He is gentle and humble.
So what does it mean for Jesus to be gentle? It means that for weary sinners, Jesus is not going to be harsh toward your sin when you come to Him. Jesus is not going to hold your sin over you and condemn you for it. No, if you come to Jesus, He is going to be gentle toward you as a Savior, and will show you mercy rather than wrath. If you are weary from your sin today, do not fear the Savior. He is gentle toward weary sinners, and invites you to come to Him to find rest for your soul. Do not mistake His gentleness for blissful ignorance of your sin, for He knows that if you do not come to Him, His wrath will be on you. However, if you do come to Him, you can know with complete confidence that He is gentle and kind to forgive weary sinners and give them life in Himself.
How is Jesus humble? We could consider many ways in which Christ is humble, but I believe the way in which Jesus is referencing for Himself is best seen in Philippians 2:8:
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The supreme way in which Jesus displayed His humility is in His willful decision to become man, to live the life man never could due to sin, and then to die the death man deserved. In the incarnation, Christ adding humanity to His divine nature, Jesus, the infinite One, becomes finite. The Creator becomes like His creation. Jesus is humble toward weary sinners to the extent that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became so lowly, so humble, that He became like one of us. And being found in the appearance as a man, Christ accomplishes for us the very righteousness we need to be saved, and it becomes ours in Him by faith alone.
Weary sinners, come to Jesus. He is gentle and humble in heart.
- An Anti-yoke
Lastly, notice that Jesus calls weary sinners to “take my yoke upon you.” What does this mean? The yoke that Jesus is referring to here is not the yoke you found in your egg this morning. It is a heavy crossbar that was placed on oxen to force them to drag farming equipment through the fields. Yokes were burdensome for the oxen. Yokes were heavy, bulky, and rough. Yet, this is what Jesus is using as a metaphor to describe our discipleship to Him.
Jesus is using a kind of irony here. Jesus’ yoke is an anti-yoke. It is a yoke of mercy, grace, and compassion. His yoke is easy (kind) and His burden is light, unlike the yoke of the oxen. What could Jesus be getting at with this teaching? I believe that what Jesus is telling His disciples and this crowd is that they, and many people today, believe that following Jesus is like a painful, heavy, bulky yoke placed upon our lives where no joy, peace, and pleasure is found. Yet Christ is teaching that His yoke, entering in His discipleship, is the only yoke that grants true joy, peace, and pleasure. Rejecting Jesus would be like a drowning man rejecting the life preserver and proclaiming, “This will ruin my life! I am not ready for such a commitment!” My friend, it is the only commitment worth making.
Jesus is also aware of the perception of those who are following Him. For weary sinners, it is not uncommon for us to not come to Christ because we think, “How could a holy God love an unholy sinner like me?”. Dane Ortlund said, “Human nature dictates that the wealthier a person, the more they tend to look down on the poor. The more beautiful a person, the more they are put off by the ugly. And without realizing what we are doing, we quietly assume that one so high and exalted has corresponding difficulty drawing near to the despicable and unclean.” Not so with Jesus. Jesus’ holiness and beauty does not repel Him from weary sinners. He is drawn to them irresistibly, overjoyed to lavish grace upon grace on them, eager to adopt them and call them His own.
For those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior today, we have come to experience this haven’t we? We have come to know that life with Christ has not taken away our freedom, it has given us freedom! It has not taken away pleasure, it has given us pleasure! It has not taken away joy, it has given us joy! The apostle John reminds us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep Him commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus’ yoke is an anti-yoke. It is a yoke of freedom, not bondage. Redemption, not condemnation. Mercy, not wrath. Come weary sinners, come saints of God, and rest under the yoke of the gentle and humble Savior.
As I come to a close, the call for weary sinners is to repent and trust in Jesus alone. Are you weary and burdened? Rest is available, not in this world, but in Christ alone. The call for believers is for us to imitate the heart of the Savior toward weary sinners. For we are only redeemed by God because He was gentle and humble toward us in mercy. We too, as His blood-bought children, ought to imitate our Redeemer in His heart for sinners.
How do you view the weary and burdened? Do you turn your nose up to them? Do you stand in self-righteousness and scoff at their sin? Or do you, as one who has found the river of Life yourself, point them to the One where they can be refreshed and made whole. Brothers and sisters, may God by His grace forgive us where we have not been gentle and humble toward the weary, and may the Spirit help us to more faithfully imitate the heart of our Savior in our homes, workplaces, and community.