6 July 2014Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another.” (v. 16)
Working as a mission partner in a Grenadian school has opened my eyes and ears to a whole new range of interactions. Like any school around the world there is good and bad. Some days peer pressure and calling out about a person's mother, has ended with rocks having to be prized from the hands of a 12 year old who is ready to 'yoke' another student with it. Yet at other times the generosity, loving and playful spirit has shone through children who have so little in terms of material resources.
In today's passage Jesus uses two pictures of children's behaviour to help us understand what he is saying. The first (verses 16-19) is the picture of name calling and peer pressure used to represent those who were so keen to label himself and John because they did not fit with the norm expected of religious teachers of the time. The second picture (verses 25-30) is of those who trust in Jesus as loving infants willing to surrender to God's will, while those who are "wise" and "intelligent" (v. 25) miss the point of Jesus' presence, seemingly so wrapped up in defining what is correct and right.
Jesus offer is of a different way for everyone. The "yoke" (v. 29) was a device used to make animals take a load in agriculture. It was also a common metaphor to refer to the teachings of the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus offers an end to the load placed on people by the religious teachers of the day using the scriptures. He offered a change for a people weary of the pressure, name calling and spiritual violence, and the promise of a way that encouraged people to learn from him, a gentle and humble teacher. Ultimately we see that the Father has sent the son Jesus, so that in trusting him we can find a safe and secure place of generosity and grace for our lives.
- Have you ever felt pressurised to conform to a certain religious idea or a certain spiritual yoke? What happened?
- What "yokes" do people wear today? Are they religious or otherwise?
- How can you challenge people to take off their "yoke" and take up Jesus?
Bible notes author