July 5th – 5th after Pentecost
Readings: Psalm 145: 8-14 and Matthew 11: 16-30
When we read through a gospel, and our Sunday readings don’t include all the gospel – hopefully you are reading the bits in-between as we go along – we realise there is the teaching of Jesus which we have sort of forgotten. There is much more teaching from Jesus than we learnt in Sunday School! I think this is one of those chapters.
It is not easy. But it is relevant I think. Jesus is saying that the “people” rejected John the Baptist and they have rejected him too. Despite his love and the healing and the goodness, they don’t like the challenge. It is too disturbing. At one level it is too political and at another, it is not political enough as he is not bashing up the Romans. The people are caught in indecision. And Jesus makes it more uncomfortable by reminding the people of others from the Bible who did face a decision, the wicked places like Sodom or Tyre or Sidon, who experienced destruction. He says that if the people there had seen what he did, they would have repented but they did not have that opportunity. The towns of Galilee have seen Jesus’ miracles and still don’t acknowledge him.
Today we live in a country where many have “rejected” the gospel, or maybe aren’t bothered to find out. And part of the fault is that we – as a church – have not shared the joy, the good news, or lived it out attractively. We do live in a material world which has turned its back on God; Jesus taught about the allure of Mammon, and we see that today and even among us in the church.
The psalm today speaks of God’s love and mercy and grace – it is not ‘either – or’ but ‘both – and’. In fact, the very nature of God’s graciousness and mercy and goodness makes our rejection of God and our ignoring of his way to live all the worse. As Christians, we may wonder why the people rejected Jesus, but actually we see it all the time today and – if we are honest – we see ourselves slipping backwards, at times.
And the final verses are a reminder that following Jesus is not straightforward, but Jesus says his yoke is easy – in that he carries it with us; he offers rest to the weary and over-burdened. As we discover that Jesus loves us so much, and desires and longs for us to be in his company, so I hope we feel the challenge of living as he calls us to becomes possible – not in our strength, but yoked to Jesus and in step with him.
What do you notice from this passage?