How Is Matthew 11 Like Surfing?

Sometimes we are treading water as the seas rage. The waves toss us about. What does Jesus offer? Rest. How so?

Matthew formed his account of The Gospel of Jesus around 5 major teaching sections. The Torah structural allusion is part of his relentless referencing Israel’s past. The goal appears to be recapture the narrative momentum of God’s revelation in order to surge beyond where many Jews were stuck in an unhealthy symbiosis of power brokers and validation craving people.

John the Baptist critiqued the political and religious manipulations of his day as well as could be expected. He fasted as a form of grieving at the compromise of his people under the Trumpish King Herod.

Jesus affirmed John’s ministry without duplicating it. Jesus was not mourning, he was moving on. There was a time for preparing for the King, and John was as good as any, but now the King has arrived. The time has come for Israel to respond to their King.

Those who were willing to catch his wave would be swept forward with him.

His Kingdom is a dynamic reality to be grabbed. The teachable, the childlike, get it:

Latching on to Jesus turns the fearful force into a wave to be surfed.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~ Jesus

Matthew 11 (The VOICE)

With that, Jesus finished instructing His disciples, and He went on to preach and teach in the towns of Galilee. 2 John, meanwhile, was still in prison. But stories about the Anointed One’s teachings and healing reached him.

Quite frankly, John is perplexed. He has been awaiting the Anointed, but he believes that person will be a great political ruler, a king, or a military hero. Jesus seems to be all about healing people and insisting that the poor and the meek are blessed.
So John sent his followers 3 to question Jesus.

John’s Followers: Are You the One we have been expecting as Savior for so long? Are You the One Scripture promised would come? Or should we expect someone else?

Jesus: 4 Go back and tell John the things you have heard and the things you have seen. 5 Tell him you have seen the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers cured, the deaf hear, the dead raised, and the good news preached to the poor.6 Blessed are those who understand what is afoot and stay on My narrow path.

7 John’s disciples left, and Jesus began to speak to a crowd about John.

Jesus: What did you go into the desert to see? Did you expect to see a reed blowing around in the wind? 8 No? Were you expecting to see a man dressed in the finest silks? No, of course not — you find silk in the sitting rooms of palaces and mansions, not in the middle of the wilderness. 9 So what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes. Yes, a prophet and more than a prophet. 10 When you saw John, you saw the one whom the prophet Malachi envisioned when he said,

I will send My messenger ahead of You,
and he will prepare the way for You.[a]

11 This is the truth: no one who has ever been born to a woman is greater than John the Baptist.[b] And yet the most insignificant person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12–13 All of the prophets of old, all of the law — that was all prophecy leading up to the coming of John. Now, that sort of prepares us for this very point, right here and now. When John the Baptist[c] came, the kingdom of heaven began to break in upon us, and those in power are trying to clamp down on it — why do you think John is in jail? 14 If only you could see it — John is the Elijah, the prophet we were promised would come and prepare the way. 15 He who has ears for the truth, let him hear.

In this way, Jesus invites His followers to understand who John is, and, in turn, who He must be.

16 What is this generation like? You are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out, 17 “When we played the flute, you did not dance; and when we sang a dirge, you did not mourn.” 18 What I mean is this: When John came, he dressed in the clothes of a prophet, and he did not eat and drink like others but lived on honey and wild locusts. And people wondered if he was crazy, if he had been possessed by a demon. 19 Then the Son of Man appeared — He didn’t fast, as John had, but ate with sinners and drank wine. And the people said, “This man is a glutton! He’s a drunk! And He hangs around with tax collectors and sinners, to boot.” Well, Wisdom will be vindicated by her actions — not by your opinions.

20 Then Jesus began to preach about the towns He’d visited. He’d performed some of His most fantastic miracles in places like Chorazin and Bethsaida, but still the people in those places hadn’t turned to God.

Jesus: 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! And woe to you, Bethsaida! Had I gone to Tyre and Sidon and performed miracles there, they would have repented immediately, taking on sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you this: the people from Tyre and Sidon will fare better on the day of judgment than you will. 23 And Capernaum! Do you think you will reign exalted in heaven? No, you’ll rot in hell. Had I gone to Sodom and worked miracles there, the people would have repented, and Sodom would still be standing, thriving, bustling. 24 Well, you know what happened to Sodom. But know this — the people from Sodom will fare better on the day of judgment than you will.

25 And then Jesus began to pray:

Jesus: I praise You, Father — Lord of heaven and earth. You have revealed Your truths to the lowly and the ignorant, the children and the crippled, the lame and the mute. You have hidden wisdom from those who pride themselves on being so wise and learned. 26 You did this, simply, because it pleased You. 27 The Father has handed over everything to My care. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son — and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father. 28 Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Put My yoke upon your shoulders — it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. 30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Footnotes:

  1. 11:10 Malachi 3:1
  2. 11:11 Literally, John who immersed, to show repentance
  3. 11:12–13 Literally, John who immersed, to show repentance