Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 11

There is nothing that can stop the advancement of the kingdom of God. As we study the life of Jesus this becomes more and more apparent. If there was any moment in history that the church could have been stopped it would have been right after the Crucifixion when it was in the most disarray. Instead, God used that moment for the church's greatest triumph. From that point on, there was almost a literal explosion of the faith as they disciples spread the word throughout the known world. In chapter 11 of Matthew we see the faint stirrings of that explosion through the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist.

John the Baptist had a very special calling. He was sent forth to prepare the way for Christ. He too would suffer for his faith and devotion at the hands of the martyr's blade, but he never faltered. We see here that he is in prison at this time, yet Jesus lauds him for his devotion to the mission of preparing the world for Christ. Jesus also presents an interesting paradox, calling John the Baptist the greatest amongst all men, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven.

11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear. – Matthew 11:11-15

What honor to be called the greatest among men by Jesus. We also see here another bit of praise meant for all men who forcefully help advance the kingdom of heaven. This is reserved for those who, without fear, boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ. My friends, this is you and I! These words of praise are meant for us. When we advance the kingdom through living the life Christ has planned for us we are forcefully laying hold of the kingdom. Even in this, we see that those already in the kingdom of heaven are greater than men.

So how do we achieve this greater accolade? When we accept Christ into our hearts we become part of the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus is saying here is that John the Baptist accomplished great things in this earthly realm, yet without Jesus he is not fit for even entering the kingdom of heaven. Think about that for moment. Though John the Baptist had accomplished great works, it was his faith alone in Christ that put him in the kingdom of heaven. This is further proof that it is not works, but grace by faith that we are saved.

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." – Matthew 11:28-30

I wanted to include these words of Christ simply as a measure of encouragement today. As I continue to struggle through a very rough month of my life I see these words merely as a promise. There may be times in my greatest frustrations where I have trouble seeing these words as more than some hollow platitude, but they are still there. I see these words and I am reminded of times when my life was much worse. I am reminded of times where I did not know where I would be living within a week or if I would have a job or not, yet Christ still provided. Last night in the dark of night God granted me rest when I needed it most. Sometimes it is physical rest, while other times rest can come in the form of quiet reassurance from the Father that everything will be okay. It is my prayer that these words will give you comfort, if not now then somewhere down the line simply because the living Word of God is always there.


  1. What does being the greatest amongst men gain us?
  2. Did John the Baptist truly enter the kingdom of heaven through faith?
  3. How do you see the rest that Jesus promises here?

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