In Matthew only. Verse 28: An invitation to all who need him, and an unconditioned promise of welcome. Verse 29: A summons to submit to his teaching, and a promise that those who do so shall find rest in it. Verse 30: For his "service is perfect freedom."
Notice the sharp contrast between the width of this invitation and the apparent limitation of the preceding statement (verse 27). The truths of prevenient grace and man's free-will may not be separated.
Matthew 11:29 , Matthew 11:30 have so much in common with both the language and the thought of Ec 51:26, 27, that probably this passage was in our Lord's mind. It is noteworthy that most of the other signs of acquaintance with Ecclesiasticus are found in the Epistle of St. James. Take my yoke upon you . For there is work to be done, therefore enter on it. The yoke is the service that Christ gives us to do, and therefore implies more than his teaching. This, however, is so important a part of his service, both in itself and as being the means of knowing what he wishes done, that Christ speaks of it as though almost identical with his yoke. And learn of me . The figure of the oxen passes into that of the scholars. The "of" is slightly ambiguous, and may refer to Christ as the Example from which they may draw the lesson for themselves ( Matthew 24:32 ), or as the Teacher who will himself instruct them ( Colossians 1:7 ). The second meaning is more suitable here. (For the thought, comp. John 8:31 .) For . The reason why they should learn from him and no other teacher. He alone was what he claimed to teach, therefore he alone could teach it properly, and therefore from him alone could they learn that type of character which they ought to develop. I am . Observe the claim. It is almost greater than that of verse 27. Meek . Primarily, as regards God ( Matthew 5:5 , note). Receiving in my degree whatever yoke my Father puts on me. And lowly in heart . As regards men. Observe that meek and lowly correspond, though the order is reversed, to "He humbled himself and became obedient" ( Philippians 2:8 , where ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτόν does not refer to the Incarnation ( ἐκένωσεν ἑαυτόν ), but to his relation to others in this world). In heart ( Matthew 5:8 , note). "Lowly in heart" very nearly corresponds to "he that is of a lowly spirit." Such a person as Christ's experience shows ( Philippians 2:9 ) "shall obtain honour" ( Proverbs 29:23 ). And ye shall find rest unto your souls . In this learning and service. The words are taken from Jeremiah 6:16 (not the LXX .; cf. also Ecclesiasticus 6:28), where they form the promise given to those that ask for the old paths and walk in the good way of the Divine commandments. But these roads were now more clearly made known in Christ. Observe the full force of the two expressions, I will give you rest ( Jeremiah 6:28 ), and Ye shall find rest. The tired comers are at once refreshed by Christ; these accept his service and teaching, and in performing it find further rest. The first rest may be termed the peace of justification; the second, that of sanctification. Both are obtained through Christ alone, yet they are not to be confused, much less identified, with one another.
The joy of Christ over the penitent.
I. THE THANKSGIVING .
1 . The Father ' s care for the lowly minded.
2 . The Father ' s love for the Son. The Lord Jesus seemed a man among men. He was rejected and despised. But, in truth, he was the almighty Son of God. All things had been given into his hand; all power was his. None knew him fully, in all the mystery and glory of his Divine personality, save only God the Father. Nor can any know the Father fully, save the Son. But the Lord adds at once the gracious words, "and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." "No man hath seen God at any time;" he is invisible, he dwelleth in the unapproachable light which no human eye can penetrate; but the only begotten Son hath declared him. He reveals to his chosen all that we need to know, all that man can know, of God and of his relations with mankind. Then the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and died for us, is one in the mystery of his being with the adorable Father. Here is our hope and joy. As Man, he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; as God, he is able to save us to the uttermost.
II. THE GRACIOUS INVITATION .
1 . He invites all. He had said that no man could know the Father unless the Son willeth to reveal him. But God willeth that all men should be saved. Christ Jesus gave himself a Ransom for all; now he invites all. He knew that not all would come; not all felt the need of a Saviour; therefore he addresses those that labour and are heavy laden. There is much toil in this life of ours—endless, unsatisfactory toil; the poor toil hard for their daily bread; the rich toil in the life of ambition or literature, or in the pursuit of pleasure. That toil will only end in weariness. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity." Many, too, are heavy laden, some with the cares of this life, some with pain and sickness, some with the consciousness of sin. All such the gracious Saviour calls.
2 . He bids them come to himself. There is need of effort in the spiritual life. Men must not lie still, listless, lukewarm, indifferent. They must come. Coming implies spiritual effort; there must be thought, meditation, earnest prayer, a diligent use of all the appointed means of grace. We must rouse up our souls. The prodigal son would never have recovered his lost home if he had remained in the far country. He said," I will arise, and go." And we must come to Christ. He himself the Centre of his religion. It is not a philosophy, or a code of morals, or a theology, that is to save our souls; it is a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He can give rest to the weary; he can refresh the toiling, anxious soul; he can give peace to the mind distracted by bewildering doubts. None could dare say this but only God. Put the words into the mouth of St. Paul or St. John, or any the very greatest of saints; for them to say such things would be arrogant, presumptuous in the extremest degree. But from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ those great words were only the simple truth, words of tenderness and lowliness. The very fact that he stood there in human form, that he uttered those words in human language, that he had submitted to contradiction and rejection, proved his lowliness, his condescension. It would be far otherwise were he not, what we know that he was, the Almighty God.
3 . His yoke and his burden. But these who would come to him must take up his yoke and his burden. And his yoke is obedience, and his burden is the cross. The yoke seems irksome at first; but we must learn of him. He himself learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And he is meek and lowly in heart. He will teach by his example, by the voice of his Spirit speaking in the soul, all who come to him. He will teach them ever deeper lessons of the calm peace of submission of will, the sweetness of holy obedience. The cross seems at first a heavy burden, sharp and hard to bear. But the Lord Jesus, who himself bore the cross for us in his blessed love, helps his suffering people. He bears the cross for them; he lifts it on their shoulders; he supports it by his strength; and in time the heavy burden comes to be light, according to his gracious promise. He bids us take up our cross daily; only thus can we follow him. He goeth before his people, leading the way to the everlasting rest. Those who follow him shall find rest; rest even here—the restfulness of trusting faith; and at the last, rest in the Paradise of God, where the holy dead rest from their labours; where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.
1 . The Lord rejoiced in the salvation of souls; so shall we, if we are truly his.
2 . Let us come to Christ as little children; to such he revealeth the deep truths of religion.
3 . He invites all to come to him. Let us come. None can give rest, but only he.
4 . Let us take up the cross. We must, if we would follow him. Men would separate the cross from the crown; the thing is impossible. God hath joined them together; they cannot be put asunder.
The yoke of rest.
It is a common mistake to divide these verses and to quote the first of them—the invitation to the weary—without the others, which are really essential to the practical comprehension of Christ's method of giving rest; because it is in the conclusion of the whole passage that we discover how we may obtain rest from Christ. We must, therefore, look both at the blessing offered and at the means by which this blessing may be obtained.
I. THE BLESSING IS REST .
1 . In what it consists. The soul of man in weariness and unrest craves for peace and repose. This is more than the outward calm of quiet circumstances. Many have that who are victims to a storm of unrest within—ship-wrecked sailors tossing on the waves of their own passions. The true rest is not idleness. While the heart is at rest the hand may be at work. We can never work so well as with a restful mind. Neither is this rest a state of mental torpor. The mind may be wide awake, but calm and at peace—like the sea when its waves are still, and yet its deep waters teem with life, and great fleets sweep over its surface.
2 . For whom it is designed. Those who labour and are heavy laden. Some people are naturally restful, constitutionally placid. But Christ desires to bring rest to troubled souls. He has sympathy for the toiling multitude; he brings peace to those whose lives are burdened. This may apply especially to those whose toil is inward—in the effort to overcome temptation, and who are heavily laden with the weight of sin.
II. THE BLESSING OF REST IS TO BE OBTAINED BY WEARING THE YOKE OF CHRIST . Let us see what this involves.
1 . A personal approach to Christ. Jesus begins his words to the weary with the gracious invitation, "Come unto me." Let not any heartbroken, despondent person hold back in fear, for the invitation is just for him. "Arise; the Master calleth thee!" But he cannot receive the blessing until he goes to Christ. Rest begins in personal contact with Christ.
2 . Submitting to the rule of Christ. Some have thought that by his reference to the yoke our Lord meant to indicate that the weary might yoke themselves to him, and that he and his tired disciple might walk under the same yoke—the greater part of the weight of which he would bear. Certainly there is some yoke to be borne by Christ's disciple. We do not escape from restlessness by plunging into lawlessness and self-will. On the contrary, our self-will is the source of our deepest unrest. When this is conquered we shall be at peace. Therefore the service of Christ, which involves the suppression of self, is the way of inward restfulness. To bear his yoke, nay, even to carry his cross, is to find rest. While we look for personal comfort and escape from duty, we are miserable and restless; when we cease to think of our own ease and give ourselves up to Christ's service, to bear his yoke, we find peace.
3 . Following in the way of Christ. They who would have rest must learn of Christ. Then the rest does not come in a moment. It will be obtained just in the degree in which the great lesson is learnt. Further, this is a lesson in meekness and lowliness. Then rest will come in proportion as we become meek and lowly like Christ.—W.F.A.
The forearming against a foreseen unbelief.
Note in introduction that St. Luke's placing of this narrative is the preferable one. it was during the period of absence of the twelve, after they had been "commanded," that John was beheaded. The entire current of tiffs chapter, that seems so exceptional in its character in some respects, is blown upon and troubled, as it were, by that presence, an ever-disturbing one, the phenomenal one, of unbelief. Notice—
I. A PROPHET 'S FORESEEING OF THE WORKING OF UNBELIEF , POSSIBLY EVEN BEING TOUCHED WITH A FEELING OF IT HIMSELF ; AND HIS PROVISION AGAINST IT , WHETHER FOR HIS PEOPLE ALONE OR FOR , THE SAKE OF HIMSELF AND THEM . It is stud by Jesus Christ here that a greater prophet had not arisen than John the Baptist. He had heralded Christ; he had baptized him; he had announced and pointed to him as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," and worthily had he already confessed him and the truth before the gainsaying and the ungodly. It is just conceivable that, in his prison and bonds, stone untoward wave of doubt may have crossed his peaceful breast. But it is all the more unlikely, whereas we read that it was when he heard through his disciples of the mighty works of Christ that he sent the question, "Art thou he that should conic, or do we look for another?" Again, as his end drew near, it was certainly not merely plausibly, but justly and really likely, that his anxiety for the informed faith, and the strong, firm faith of his disciples, should be quickened. Had the evangelist made one comment of his own that the reason of John, when he sent his interrogation to his Lord and Master, was "to the end that" his own little flock, soon to be as sheep without their Shepherd, "might" the rather "believe," and might not fail to know the one, only good Shepherd, this old question would never once have been stirred. That neither of the evangelists does this need be no surprise at all to us, unless indeed it might be to a suggestion of our too easily awaking unbelief, oscillating as we so often are, between unbelief and credulily. And see, therefore," the mighty works," say his disciples to John; and he to them again, "the mighty works;" and he sends two of them to Jesus, and he also, having done afresh all a glorious circle of mighty works, while they witnessed, he , of his own abounding sweet grace, grace to teach, and grace to help, and grace to guard the astray, and to confirm the weak, takes up the word, and re-echoes it home to the prison—"the mighty works!"—these "that I do bear witness of me." And, at all events, we are not told that the mission and the return message were in vain. If it were so, that John himself needs for the last earthly agony one more reviving word. of the Holy One, he has it; and for their life his followers and disciples have it. Was it, indeed, a last word of recognition of his servant by the Lord and Master and Saviour of him, that there was added the benediction, "And blessed is he who shall not be offended in me"? John the Baptist was too near the blessing now to let it slip; too near to be permitted to let it slip, or to slip himself from the grasp, or be plucked from the hand of that Saviour. The works of Christ, the works of Christianity, the works of the Christian, and the works of the man who says he is such, but in works denies it, are, and shall be to the end, the test of each respectively.
II. THE : UNEXPECTED OCCASION THAT CHRIST , EVER WATCHFUL , UTILIZES , IN ORDER TO DIRECT AND TO AID THE BELIEF OF " THE MULTITUDES ." John the Baptist had roused a vast amount of attention in the nation. He had not failed in a jot of the accomplishment of the work he had been appointed to do, and had been announced centuries past, as appointed to do; nor had he failed in the realization of the character, and all that belonged to it, which was prophesied as the mark of him. It appears (verse 7) that "multitudes" had been present while Jesus had given audience to the deputation from John the Baptist, and had given answer to them also. Christ had, of course, ever approved of the attention that the nation had given to the appearance and preach-of his forerunner. But of what use, and to what end was it, that they gave attention to that herald if they proceeded no further, if they did not "come to him"? The threefold question of Christ leads up now to this, and bears, strictly upon tile question of the people's belief. The question is, "What was it ye went out into the wilderness to see?" They went out in wondering, excited throngs. They heard a preacher of novel utterance; they saw a personage of unusual habit and diet; some believed and some believed not, but all had their thoughts, and all talked and argued. When confronted with the question, it was impossible to them to answer that they had gone out for nothing; impossible fur them to admit that they had. gone out to see a mere natural product, a mere native of the desert, stunted grass, or a trembling barren reed, the habitat of which was the sandy or rocky wind-blown waste. It was equally impossible for them to plead that they had gone there to see the luxury, wealth, show of social life—the diametrical opposite of the desert; this every one knew was not there , and had not been there by any accident now. No, they could not deny that they had been out to see a prophet; and the further truth was, the prophet, allowed and incontestable— for it was "he of whom it was written," in their well-known and prized prophetic oracles, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, to prepare thy way before thee." They had flocked out to see John the Baptist, and "he it was who had testified of him. " What an introduction for those multitudes to Christ! Why should they not now, " mighty works" and all else added, "believe on" and "follow" him? And Christ adds, the youngest true convert of the Church, the tyro in the school of the Church, the as yet unfledged apostle, is greater than he, more blessed, and with still nobler career before him. What a call of grace! What an inspiration to be offered to human ear! And how true, that in a certain sense the knell of prophecy had ceased, and yielded place to the ringing tidings of the Church of the kingdom ] Its doors had been open but for a short time, but what press into it had there been, and how eagerly had the longing, craving, starving, and determined taken possession of its blessed shelter and hope!
III. THE METHOD WHICH CHRIST DID NOT HESITATE TO USE IN ORDER TO CHARACTERIZE GENERALLY THE CONDUCT OF THE UNBELIEVING OF THAT GENERATION . He used a similitude which, plainly as it must speak to any type of national mind, was probably additionally telling and significant to those for whom he then in the first instance spoke. A picture of the perversity of children suffices to portray this. The music of Christ is not listened to, nor the wail of warning of John; neither the stern rigour of this, nor the winning attractiveness of that! Such as these, who is to seek them, who to win, who to save? Dwell on the fact that Christ consents to condescend, by all and various method, to ply the stubborn, the rebellious, the hard-hearted, the "stiff-necked." What patience is this that instructs, but also argues and pleads, and by each avenue of approach to mind, to heart, to temper, to make his urgent and pitiful appeal! At last , where are the children of disobedience? But Wisdom's children justify their name and parentage.
IV. THE DISTINCT DENOUNCING OF JUDGMENT , WITH THE ANNOUNCING OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT , FOR THOSE WHO RESISTED AND REFUSED THE TEACHING AND INTENT OF " THE MIGHTY WORKS " WROUGHT BY HIM . The lips that loved mercy, and belonged to a heart that supremely loved mercy, speak thus forth that very reason, because they love mercy, and the day of judgment was not yet come. The Lord "mourns for towns where the wonders of Divine power had been most manifestly set forth, which once had the mystery of God, and which might have brought forth the fruit of virtues." The Saviour's "Woe'!" is denunciation indeed, but denunciation mingled with the most pathetic of grief. Tyre and Sidon had indeed trodden under foot the law of nature, and "without cause;" but these towns, after that they had transgressed the natural and the written Law, also make light of those "mighty wonders" which had been wrought among them.
V. THE CALM OUTFLOW OF THE SON 'S PERFECT SYMPATHY OF PRAISE TOWARD THE FATHER . Dwell on:
1 . The title by which the Father is addressed, as "Lord of heaven and earth"—once the Maker of both, ever the Ruler and Disposer of both, but withal to be adored as the Uniter of the one to the other. It is a reminiscence of the prayer Jesus taught: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
2 . The perfect consent and harmony that the known counsel and will of God the Father receives of the Son.
3 . The matter which now serves to illustrate this, viz. the revealing to the childlike, the poor in spirit, the pure, the meek, of those things, deep as hell and high as heaven, which their souls were indeed able to receive, and which became "more abundant life" in them; and the withholding them from others, viz. those whose blindness, but self-sufficiency , could only misconceive , misrepresent, adulterate them , and increase their own condemnation.
4 . The fact that Christ utters no vindication , but does speak perfect acquiescence in the sovereign sight and sovereign will. Dwell also generally on the symptoms suggested by this pause, this personal episode , so full of feeling, occurring in the midst of the current of all that was transpiring in the crooked and perverse generation. What did it mean? How close it seemed to bring heaven down to earth, and what absolute and real inter-communion!
VI. THE ENDING OF ALL THE ARGUMENT AND EXPOSTULATION ' WITH UNBELIEF BY THAT UNSURPASSED INVITATION AND OFFER , OF SURPASSING GRACE , " COME UNTO ME , ALL THAT LABOR ," ETC . First , note the covering, forgiving love Of this call. It is as though the memory of his own mission, and the supremest object and end of it, flashed again fresh upon the wonderful vision already of the Saviour, partly as he had threaded the way that day through the subterfuges of unbelief, and partly as just now for one moment of elysian communion he had addressed himself to the Father. Second , note the breadth and the length of that call—"Come to me, all that toil and are heavily burdened (do not translate "All ye ") . Those that day, and in that place, who had tangled themselves in the meshes and the excuses of unbelief; those far and wide, as the good tidings should travel to them , of an all-sufficient help; those down through all the ages of time who had toiled, to take nothing, and had overburdened themselves, to break their own strength;—to all these the invitation of this surpassing grace is given. Thirdly , note the intrinsic, inherent, unconscious right and claim involved in the invitation on the part of him who gives it. There is no mistaking the word of it; it is "Come to me." Fourthly , note the engagement entered into. "I will give you rest"—rest from biting care; rest from bitter memory; rest from the chagrin of vain and wasted toil; rest from a reproaching conscience; rest from remorse. Who ever offered to enter into such an engagement except he who now did so? And he only can perform it. What tribute to his faithfulness to that offer, invitation, assurance, would millions, absolutely untold, render and present from that day to this! Lastly , note the more developed form of the simple call, "Come to me." It is this: "Take my yoke on you," and the burden I bear with it. The yoke is easy, the burden is light; for I am meek, and give my neck meekly to the yoke, and the burden follows, lightly weighing. These are of the highest things to be learned on earth of Jesus. Nor is there honour to compare with this—to wear the yoke that he wore, and wear it like him; to bear the burden he bore, and bear it like him. So have we learned of Jesus, and so shall learn, more and more.—B.
Jesus rejected by the wise, but owned by babes and the Father.
Having illustrated by one or two sayings of our Lord what was his judgment of John and of those who heard John's teaching, Matthew sets alongside of these others regarding the towns which had enjoyed exceptional opportunities of forming an adequate idea of his Person and work. The complaint against these cities was that "they repented not." They were not sinners above other men, as Sodom and Gomorrah had been. But when Jesus came exhibiting the kingdom of heaven, and inviting men to enter it, they were expected to repent of having chosen any other object as their chief good, and to welcome the kingdom as the Father's best gift. They were summoned at once to repentance and faith. In our Lord's judgment, then, that is the most damning condition of human life, in which a man has seen the kingdom of God but not felt drawn to it above all else. In the case of Capernaum there is an additional element of woe. For some months Jesus had made it the centre of his operations. And it may not unnaturally have occurred to the inhabitants that, as Jerusalem had rejected the Messiah, this town might be exalted to the high position of metropolis of the kingdom. But when he definitely enounced the pure spirituality of his mission, intense repugnance and resentment at once took the place of admiration, and from a heaven of Messianic expectation they fell to a hell of disappointment, bitterness, and godless despair. Such transitions are of not infrequent occurrence. Religious enthusiasm has been kindled under false impressions of what our Lord offers, and when it becomes apparent that he does not bestow an easy conquest over sin, but only grace which enables a man through painful self-denial to win self-mastery, bitter murmuring takes the place of hope, and he turns in fierce resentment against our Lord, as if he were accountable for the misconceptions of his kingdom which a worldly, weak, and self-seeking nature cannot but make. In what spirit and temper did our Lord accept this sad result of his teaching? Admitting frankly and without any sneer that the wise and prudent had discountenanced him, he finds his solace in the fact that the babes had received him, and that, if earthly authorities disowned his claim, his Father knew him. The wise and prudent in his day were the trained teachers, the leaders in religion, the men who had been at much pains to ascertain the meaning of Scripture, and to maintain the kind of character which they considered acceptable to God. They had their minds made up already about all things human and Divine, and to minds thus filled with preconceived ideas Jesus seemed either unintelligible or blasphemous. Sadly, therefore, he turns to those who were unsophisticated by centuries of systematic teaching, but could by their native instincts discern between good and evil. The law illustrated by our Lord's experience is again and again referred to in Scripture, as if all religious teachers had been brought into practical contact with it. Paul e.g. says, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called;" and this not as if God were jealous of the wise, or had some special dislike to men of education, but because the mind of the educated man has difficulties in the way of his acceptance of the gospel from which the uneducated is happily exempt. When we are introduced to truths which the intellect is too small to comprehend, we are tempted to reject them because the ordinary methods of inquiry fail us. Few men of intellect escape the mental perplexity and suffering which this entails. There are truths which we must accept in faith, on the word of him who is better informed than we, and whom we know to be true. Intellect has its place and its function in connection with Christian truth; but in point of fact and as matter of history intellect has not discovered God. Christ has done so, and that man makes best growth in Christ's school who has humility enough to accept his teaching. But while our Lord was thus on all hands met by repulse and unbelief, he had one unfailing source of comfort. The Father knew who he was—that he was no misled enthusiast, no pretentious blasphemer, but God's own Son. Again, men might despise his unconventional teaching, mistaking genuine simplicity for ignorance of high matters, they might upbraid him with contradicting the received teaching about God, but he could say truthfully, "No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." By this consciousness did he stimulate himself again to return, and once more to seek to convince men of the Father's love. And there was a third element in this sustaining consciousness. Judged by his present success, he seemed feeble and of small influence, yet he reminded himself that "all things were delivered unto him of his Father." He was to be God so far as men and this world were concerned. Men might ignore him and deny his teaching, but they could not prevent him from raising the dead, from rebuking the winds and waves, from returning their contempt with compassion, their hatred with love, from living righteously and lovingly so as to be a light to all generations. They could not prevent him from accepting God's Spirit and living in his humanity as the perfect image of the Father, and thus exercising an influence on human affairs that deepens as the world grows. But the practical outcome of our Lord's experience of the hostility, suspicion, and contempt of men was not merely to confirm his own consciousness of his fellowship with the Father, but also to lead him confidently to invite to himself all who found life laborious and burdensome. And that he does this at the very moment when we should have naturally expected to find him most hopeless, is not without significance. He has been compelled by the cold reception given him to revise his claims, to cross-examine his own consciousness of a Divine commission, and the result of this is the tenderest and most assured invitation to weak and weary men that ever fell from his lips. It is not the cheerful and over-confident utterance of a happy moment; it is the sober, weighty, reasoned deliverance of one who has pondered the matter all round, and who promises only what he knows he can stand to and make good. He bids you consider that you may have rest. However defeated and soiled with the dust of conflict, however paralyzed and dismayed your heart, however weary of the little that comes of all your striving, to you he offers partnership with himself. He will make all things a school, in which you will be encouraged by his presence, and from which you shall pass into that full maturity and fitness for all the future which begin in meekness and lowly carrying of his yoke.—D.
The knowledge of the Holy.
The "things" to which our Lord here refers may be better gathered Item what follows than from what goes before. They arc evidently spiritual things ( Luke 19:42 ); things pertaining to—
I. THE HIGHEST KNOWLEDGE .
1 . The knowledge of the Father.
2 . The knowledge of the Son.
II. THE METHOD OF ITS COMMUNICATION .
1 . It is not attained by natural reason.
2 . It is attained by Divine revelation.
III. THE PERSONS WHO ARE HONORED WITH IT .
1 . Not the " wise and understanding. "
2 . The revelation is to babes.
3 . The revelation is heavenly.
A yoke for two.
"Take my yoke upon you." Christ's yoke, of which he speaks here, is the yoke of Sonship, his relation to God, and the responsibilities, duties, and burdens which it involved. And his point is that he did not want to bear that yoke alone. It was a yoke meant for two. It could only be borne aright when disciples and he bore the yoke together. Illustration may be taken from the yoke fitted to the shoulders of the two oxen that drew the Eastern plough. That yoke was only easy for each ox as they both cheerfully bore it together. So with the yoke of Sonship. It did not lie easy on Christ's shoulder unless his disciples bore it with him. It never could lie easy on their shoulder unless he bore it with them. It is true that rest comes for man in the spirit of sonship; but it is also true that it does not come to man in a lonely sonship—only in a sonship fully shared with Christ.
I. A YOKE FOR ONE . " Take my yoke." There must be a sense in which our Lord's yoke was his own, and could be shared by nobody. And there is a sense in which each individual man must "bear his own burden." But Christ and we have more that is common to humanity, than that is unique to ourselves. We can and do "bear one another's burdens." There is a tendency to exaggerate the uniqueness of our Lord's experience. It is healthier and wiser to dwell fully on the commonness of his experience and ours. The piece of the yoke on Christ was exactly his piece , and had its peculiar pressure; but it was only part of a yoke, which really lay on two shoulders.
II. A YOKE FOR TWO . "Take my yoke upon you," and let us share it together; then it will grow light and easy for us both. Can we bear Christ's yoke with him? Yes, if we understand aright what that yoke was.
1 . it was honouring God in a gracious human life. We can share in that.
2 . It was revealing God as the loving Father, in a beautiful human Sonship. We can share in that.
3 . It was doing the Father's work, and seeking and saving the wandering and lost sons and daughters. We can share in that. And the strange thing is that lifting up and sharing Christ's yoke is the way to rest , the only way. Rest for any man can only come out of finding the Father in heaven. No one can find the Father until he gets the Spirit of the Son into his heart. Jesus seems to say, "My rest is in being a Son; my yoke is the yoke of Sonship. Bear my yoke, and you too shall find rest unto your souls."—R.T.
In close connexion with the preceding.
Yet freely invites all to him.
Observe that, whether by "accident" or "design," Matthew 11:25-30 are a statement of the good news contained in the expression, "Jesus the Son of God," while Matthew 12:1-8 leads us to regard him as the Son of man.