Friday, November 6, 2009

There Is No Comfort in Jesus apart from His Sovereignty

"At that time, Jesus declared, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.'"
- Matthew  11:25-30

I have just one brief thought on this passage.

The last two sentences in this passage are often used in evangelistic appeals. And properly so, because they clearly present Jesus as the Savior of men weary of their sin. However, the comfort of the Jesus in verses 29 and 30 is dependent on the sovereignty of the Jesus of verse 27. There is redemption and hope for the sinner, not because he chooses Christ, but because Christ has chosen him.


Nelson said...

Although there is no denial that God is omnipotent and does as He pleases, what you suggest is not at all either the emphasis or the intended meaning of the verse.

Chris Cole said...

Then what is it, Nelson?

Nelson said...

First of all the emphasis is not sovereignty. In the first place, look at the audience to whom Jesus was speaking. They were Jews, and as Jews, I do not think they would be doubting that God is sovereign despite the tension that existed between God's omnipotence and their subjection under the rule of the Roman empire.

Second, the problem Jesus was facing was doubt or refusal by the Jews to admit Him as Messiah as can be read in the context of that whole chapter of Matt 11:
• John Baptist's doubts Jesus is Messiah, vs.1-6
• Crowd doubts John's testimony of His Messiahship, vs.7-15
• Jew's refusal to believe Jesus' works to be Messianic, vs.16-19
• Jesus denounces their unbelief of His Messiahship, vs.20-24
• Jesus' call to faith in Him as Messiah, vs.25-30

As I read the texts, Jesus words in vs.25-27 re not with reference to the divine sovereignty but to Jesus' Messianic office and His identity as the Son of God. On what ground does Jesus call the Jewish people to "Come to Me"? Answer: On the ground that He is Messiah, the one in whose claim it is that "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father". Jesus is telling His Jewish audience that the thirst and longing of the Jews is found in Him!

As I read Matt 11, your interpretation of the text is more influenced my your theological leaning rather than by how the texts are read.

Contextually, the issue and emphasis is not divine sovereignty but Jesus' identity as Messiah.

Chris Cole said...

Nelson, no, they were NOT the audience to whom He was speaking. he says, "I thank you, Father." The Father is His audience. He HAD been speaking to the Jews, rebuking them for their unbelief. that was an appropriate time for Him to address the matter of god's sovereignty, because He had been speaking to them of their coming judgment, which was the result of God's hardening: "What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8as it is written, 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day'" (Romans 11:7-8).