The Nature of the Kingdom
In Matthew 11:25-30 Jesus makes three important statements which he clearly wants us to read as one. However, I think that there are many occasions when we pick one of them and focus on it rather than looking at the big picture which Jesus wants us to see. I want to look at these three statements afresh and look at them together, as one. In fact, in all of the commonly used Bible translations they are always put together in the same paragraph, under the same heading. There may be different titles in different versions but they are always put together. I wonder why we separate them.
As we look at these three very well known statements I see we are given a key to receiving a revelation. We are given the revelation itself and finally we are shown the fruit, or benefit, of living in the revelation. Sadly, I think we desire the fruit without realising there is a key that needs to be taken hold of and used. Without the key, the fruit will be diminished. To fully benefit from what Jesus says we need to start with the all important key.
What I am about to say may be offensive to some of you, yet is is something Jesus himself says many times throughout the gospels.
At that time Jesus said, “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. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (Matthew 11:25-26)
Something has been hidden. I believe Jesus sees this as a hidden treasure, it is something important and something we need to take notice of. It is valuable and not necessarily revealed or given to everyone. Obviously as it is hidden, it is not something that is readily or easily seen; it needs to be searched for and, once found, treated as being highly valuable. Treated as treasure.
It is not something that can be found through intellect or status. This tells me it is not earned but it comes to us as a gift.
So much of our society focuses on our intellectual ability or the product of our own effort. For this treasure those things are meaningless. The radical statement must have felt like a punch to Jesus' listeners: "you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."
The key to receiving this gift, this valuable treasure is to come to the Father with a childlike heart. It's laying aside our pride and self-sufficiency and then coming in the simple dependence of a child. That would have shocked the people listening to Jesus and today it still shocks people as it seems so far removed from our experience or expectation.
It is, however, the key. And as a key it unlocks something very important. It unlocks a revelation that can only be received as we humble ourselves and come with a childlike heart.
In fact, in Matthew 18 Jesus says we have to change and come as a child. The word 'change' means to convert - we have to stop walking in the direction we're going, turn right around and walk in the opposite direction. It's a radical change that many are not prepared to make. The key is hidden but as it's discovered by those with a childlike heart it brings the Father pleasure.
If we turn, if we come as a child, then we can begin to understand the revelation which Jesus is uncovering. All he is doing is showing us what has always been there but we've been unable to see it. This revelation is at the heart of Jesus' ministry and so brings us to the second of our three statements.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27)
A careful read of John 17 shows us the centrality of the gospel. The most significant part of Jesus' ministry was to reveal the Father (John 17:3 & 26). Jesus is not secretive about this revelation, he wants us all to receive it. Neither is he selective about who he reveals it to, but, sadly, only a few are able to fully see it. The ones who can receive this revelation are those who understand there is a key.
If we are unable to come with a childlike heart we will settle for seeing what God does, rather than seeing who he is. That's a huge difference.
As the key of a childlike heart unlocks the revelation of who God really is so we are drawn into an intimate relationship with the Father. It is the same relationship that Jesus himself lived in. What a joy to our hearts!
In John 17:26 Jesus says he will continue to reveal the Father. It's very easy for us to be distracted and lose sight of the Father. I'm sure we can all identify with that. As we lose sight of the Father, Jesus reveals him to us once again and this helps us continue on our journey of walking in relationship, in intimacy and oneness. We can only have a revelation of the Father when we come with a childlike heart.
This leads us to Jesus' final statement. "Come to me and I will give you rest".
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I often think it should say ".....therefore come to me" as this life of rest is a direct consequence of knowing the Father. The implication of these three statements is: "come to me, let me reveal the Father and then you'll discover the contentment of a restful soul".
The consequence for Cain, after he'd killed his brother, was that he became a restless wanderer on the face of the earth (Genesis 4:12). I see that restlessness in so many people. It's a restlessness that is always striving to find out what more they need to do in order to feel loved, valued or accepted. As our heart finds its home in the Father's love the restlessness ceases and we start to discover true rest. It is then we realise there is nothing more we need to do in order to feel loved, valued or accepted.
God is gracious and I know we have all experienced a measure of rest or contentment. Coming to the Father enables the deep restless wandering to fall away and for the first time, maybe, we find true rest.
We long for that rest but all too often we try and find it without first taking the key of having a childlike heart which unlocks the greatest revelation of all: that God is a Father and he wants to be a Father to YOU. That is the only way to enter the rest your heart longs for and was made for.
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Walking As Jesus Walked
Jesus promises that, when we come to him and allow him to lead us to the Father, we will begin to live freely and lightly.