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The Matthew Series 21. An easy yolk

Matthew 11:25-30 New International Version (NIV)

The Father Revealed in the Son

25 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. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 “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.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So, tonight we are addressing an interesting question that is brought up in Matthew’s gospel; why doesn’t make himself more know, why doesn’t He reveal Himself more?

Now, before we get into this I need to address the fact that no one comes to the question of God objectively. Thomas Nagal an atheist philosopher in his book The Last Word states that no one can come to the question of God purely objectively. He states, with an incredible honesty;

I am talking of ... the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true... It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God: I don’t want the universe to be like that... I am curious whether there is anyone who is genuinely indifferent as to whether there is a God – anyone who, whatever his actual belief about the matter, doesn’t particularly want either one of the answers to be correct. (Tim Keller, Reason’s for God).

We all come with reason we want God to be real or not. All of us come not as impartial judges, rather we have incredible bias in the way we even approach the topic of the existence of God. In fact, when we do any form of inquiry into almost any topic; we have a bias that is colouring our conclusions. We focus on and accept the evidence that supports the conclusions that we have already come to. So, when we ask ourselves the question; why does God not make himself obvious; we must go back a step further and ask; are we ignoring the evidence for the sake of our predetermined conclusions?

We don’t have the time to cover all the proof of God; however, God has left clues of himself in creation; there are enough books out there to make that claim; two I would recommend is Reasons for God – Tim Keller and Five Reasons for the proof of God – Edward Feser.

Rom 1:18-20 states;

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Essentially, and this can be made with Psalms 19, God is perceivable through the creation of his works. The problem is that although the concept of God is perceivable through creation (we can look at the majesty of creation and say there must be something out there). It doesn’t help in clarifying who or what is God. So as Matthew makes claim here…

1. Why does He hide Himself?

Matthew quoting Jesus states in verse 26 that it pleased the father to hide himself. It is God’s pleasure to hide himself. Now you might be thinking that seems quite dark. God takes pleasure in hiding himself from mankind. Some people with a strong disposition to atheism might be thinking; this is why I can’t stand this religion stuff! You see, God is playing games with us, enjoying the fact that He has hidden himself from us! But, does God enjoy hiding himself from people or is it just from particular kinds of people? From the texts; we see that God has hidden the knowledge of himself form the wise and learned. This seems even worst, because God delights in hiding himself from the diligent while the stupid get a pass from Him!

Well, no because He, in fact;

a. He hides himself from the Sophist

The Greek word here for wise is Sophos, where get the word sophist, and sophisticated from. It actually means someone who uses worldly wisdom. It is someone who can argue well to deceive. The great contrast that Jesus is making here is people who come to God through faith and those who think that they can make life make sense via their own wisdom and arguments.

So, let’s ask what is wrong with people who are wise and prudent? Who are Sophists? Well the problem is how people who are clever generally apply themselves is contrary to true wisdom and contrary to finding God. Generally, you will see someone who excels at a particular field of study, say Richard Dawkins as a anthropologist. His work in memes is quite interesting and he is an expert in that field. However, He then, because he is clever in anthropology thinks that he has the knowledge to comment on philosophy and theology. But he is by all regards ignorant of these two field. In fact many philosophers, complain at Dawkins sloppy philosophy. The nature of information today is that no-one is a true generalist anymore, no-one can have a deep knowledge of all fields anymore. Simply put, you can spend a life time reading one particular topic within one field of study in a discipline and not get to the bottom of it. never mind be a general expert in all fields.

It is to these people, that God seems to hide himself, and if we are honest thank God that he has, because imagine if God could be discovered by science, you would have these “educated” men saying we have found God! But you wouldn’t get it you have to be clever like us!

b. He hides himself from the self-righteous

In fact that is why he hides himself from the “prudent” which is translated from the Greek word “Sunetos” which means diligent; effectively these are people who get where they get by hard work by doing what is expected of them. By going the extra mile.

So, God hides himself from the hard working and the clever. Now this hard working is in a sense those who think that they can know God by their own moral goodness. It is these people that God hides himself from. It is the self-righteous. And again, we know these kind of people all to well. “We know God”, they say, “but you can’t, because shame, you aren’t as moral and good as us.” We know these people as hypocritical bigots. The people who demand a righteousness in others that they themselves violate; God hides himself from these.

Now, let’s just recognise in Jesus’ day both these kinds of people were saying that they had found God, they only they truly knew God. But Jesus reminds us; that no, they did not know God He had hidden Himself form them. So the question we must ask now is; well then…

2. Who does He reveal Himself to and how?

Jesus tells us that he reveals himself to those who are little children. Does Jesus mean idiots, and stupid people? Of course not! He means people who are willing to accept their dependency and need. A child accepts knowledge because they know they are without, the accept help because they know they are in need. It is this kind of person that God truly reveals Himself to!This is why the passage ends with Jesus’ call;

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The self-dependant, and arrogantly intellectual will not come, because they “have no need” to come. Their hope is their thinking and morality. They need no hope outside of themselves, because they themselves are enough. God will not reveal himself to these people, because they wouldn’t accept Him if He did, because the revelation would ultimately destroy that which they have built their life upon, which is self-reliance and self-love. No, God reveals Himself, he delights to reveal Himself, to the dependant and humble. In fact, Jesus says, come because I am gentle and humble of heart, is the very opposite of the self-reliant and self-loving want.

Philosophers like Nietzsche despised Christianity for this very reason. Calling it the view of the herd and the weak. A philosophy of envy. It is repeated today when people say that people only go to God because they need a crutch and we enlightened ones have progressed beyond the need for religion. God is the opposite of what they want. This is why in Romans 1:21-24 Paul says;

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires.

Those who do not want God inevitably make the gods they want, but these things become their destruction. We will use the two kinds of people that are Jesus mentioned in this passage; the sophist and the moralist as examples of this.

If your entire world is hinged on your wisdom your meaning in life, your identity, your very hope will be having to ensure that you always have the right answers, always having to figure out what is right and wrong. Effectively you are worshiping your own wisdom. The crisis comes in the fact that many things in this life are simply beyond the reach of understanding and this will lead you logically to one of two ends; either extreme arrogance, where you can’t see your own blind spot, because admitting them would shatter that which you have built your life upon. Or utter despair. An inescapable nihilism. In fact, the Bible has a great book about making wisdom your god; it is called Ecclesiastes, and the conclusion of the book is I tried to understand it all and it nearly drove me insane or wore me out as it says in Ecclesiastes 12:12. There is always another perspective to consider and another idea to digest. There is no hope in our own wisdom.

Well what about the moralist. Well the crisis of someone who seeks their own morality is how good is good enough? Many people settle on this idea, well I’m a good person, because… but deep down we all know that we don’t measure up and so the logical end of a moralist is complete hypocrisy or supreme delusion.

Most of us avoid these hard question, and live in a “I’m trying” kind of existence but this is why the rough waves of live and the troubles that we face so devastate us, because we don’t have a firm footing in life. So, what is the answer? Well Jesus says, come to me if you are burdened or wary and I will give you rest.

We will jump back and forth between extremes until we come to God like children dependant and helpless. This is the gospel; the good news of Christianity. It is, that there is something wrong in the world, it is the same thing that is wrong in me. It is sin, and the good news is that because Jesus came to pay for our sins, when we come to him He will give us rest. We get rest because Christianity is not about proving you are smart enough, or good enough, it is trusting that God is; and that in Him there is salvation for the worst of sinners and there is purpose for the most wandering of souls.

Church, why does God hide himself, because the only way to Him, is when we give up on ourselves, when we stop trying to be the power, answer, hope for our life, and we trust that He is!Come to Him if you are wary or burdened, trust in the finished work of the Cross, there and there alone is rest!

Let’s pray!

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