DUNCAN/God’s sovereignty and the free offer Part 2
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 11:25-30. We will see Jesus’ majesty in this glorious invitation which He issues. The great theme of Matthew 11 is the majesty of Christ, and we see that majesty in all its sovereign glory displayed in verses 25 through 30. We will see three things from this passage. First, Bible-believing Christians will joyfully acknowledge that God the Father is sovereign in salvation. Second, Bible-Believing Christians will joyfully acknowledge that God the Son is sovereign in salvation. And third, Bible-Believing Christians will be no more restrictive in their entreaties with unbelievers than was our Lord.
I. Bible-Believing Christians Will Joyfully Acknowledge That God the Father Is Sovereign in Salvation.
In verses 25-26, as the disciples return from preaching in the villages, Jesus responds with a prayer to the heavenly Father. Jesus says in verses 25-26, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” In the context of these words, the Lord Jesus had just pronounced a curse on the cities that did not repent at His preaching. Luke tells us that Jesus’ disciples had just come back from their preaching mission and that they had reported that some had responded to the gospel of the kingdom while others had rejected it. It is in this moment when the Lord Jesus could have been profoundly discouraged. Here is the first great effort to spread the gospel to the surrounding countryside and many people had rejected that message and His miracles. He could have been very downcast. In that context, the Lord Jesus lifts up a prayer of thanksgiving to His heavenly Father. Christ’s heart was tender toward sinners.
Here Jesus lifts up a prayer of thanksgiving to His heavenly Father. In that prayer He contemplates God’s sovereignty. He says in verse 26, “This was well-pleasing in your sight.” He could have been discouraged by His circumstances, but He takes encouragement in that whatever response had occurred, in the preaching of His disciples and in response to His own miracles, it was according to the Father’s will. Jesus thanks the Lord for three things. First, He thanks the Lord that the gospel is revealed. In the preaching of Christ, in the miracles of Christ, and in the preaching of the disciples, the gospel was being set forth clearly. Notice secondly, He goes on to thank God because He is specifically revealing that gospel to those who are humble. He says in verse 25, “You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Jesus is highlighting the unexpected character of the gospel. Those who were great, those who were thought well of, those who were mighty and powerful in the land were rejecting the gospel. Those who were humble, those who were not the center of attention in the land were embracing the gospel. Notice thirdly, He praises His father for the fact that His gospel has been magnified because it is not revealed to the wise. He says in verse 25, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent.” Jesus makes a distinction between those who have embraced the gospel and those who have rejected it.
II. Bible-Believing Christians Will Joyfully Acknowledge That God the Son Is Sovereign in Salvation.
In verse 27 we see the sovereignty of God in salvation set forth. Jesus in one sentence is giving us a preface to His gospel invitation which He’s going to give to us in verses 28 through 30. In this one sentence, He is going to set forth before us His authority and His credentials. Why? Because He is about to make an invitation that is going to boggle our minds. He says in verse 27, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” First, notice He says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” Jesus tells us that He has exclusive and absolute authority. The second thing Jesus says is that “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.” He claims to have an exclusive relationship. The Son is pointing to the intimacy that He has with the heavenly Father. Finally, He says, “And anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” He is claiming the exclusive ability to reveal God to men savingly.
III. Bible-Believing Christians Will Be No More Restrictive in Their Entreaties With Unbelievers Than Was Our Lord.
In verse 28 Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus promises rest. Spiritual rest. True rest to those who come to Him. He calls those who are heavy laden. That is those who are burdened with sin. They know their sin, they know that were they to stand before God, they would be pronounced guilty. Jesus comes precisely to those who are burdened in their conscience. He says, “I will give you rest.” Jesus promises blessing to all who come. He promises rest from the terror of sin. Rest from the guilt of sin. Peace of conscience. Rest in God. Rest from the power of sin. A fullness of the sense of God’s love. True rest.
In verse 29 Jesus also calls them into service. He says there, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus calls us into service, into His school to learn from Him. This is the only place in all of Scripture where the heart of Christ is named. This is so vital, because as sinners realize their sin and they realize the justice of God, their natural reaction is not to run towards God. The natural reaction is to run away. Why? Because they know that they ought to be condemned. They know that God almighty has the power to condemn. Why in the world would that sinner want to come to God? The Lord Jesus provides the answers. First of all, He says, “I am gentle.” The Lord Jesus is reminding us there that He will not break the bruised reed. When are we most vulnerable? When we repent. When you have to repent it hurts. He says, “I am humble in heart.” He promises peace if the sinner will disarm himself, if the sinner will be honest about himself, if the sinner will admit what he is, and what she has done. Come to Christ all you who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest.
The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.