by Mike Ratliff
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 ESV)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12 ESV)
Hell is real. All who do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity there. Those who repent and believe are those who ‘come to Jesus to drink.’ They believe as the Holy Spirit is poured out on them to the point that their lives are taken over by Him. Those who do will never experience hell. Instead, they come to Jesus and find rest for their souls. Those who do this are poor in spirit. They mourn for their sins. They are not proud, but meek. In their growing godliness they hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness to become manifest in them. They become more and more Christlike, therefore, they take on His character. They show mercy as He does. They become more and more pure of heart. They remove themselves from seeking their own. Instead, they become those who live to bring others to their Lord. Conversely, this holy and separate life does not cause them to find peace in the world. No, instead they are persecuted for righteousness sake.
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. (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)
The passage above is partially made up of a short prayer by our Lord. In vv20-24 preceding this passage our Lord had just pronounced woes upon the impenitent who had seen His mighty works and heard His preaching and teaching. Who are the ‘wise’ and ‘understanding?’ This refers to the Jewish leaders who opposed Him. Our Lord was being sarcastic in calling them wise and understanding. These men believed they already knew the truth and what our Lord was preaching was not it. Our Lord referred to ‘little children’ here. Who are they? These are the uneducated, the common people to whom God had revealed the truth of the Messiah and Gospel. These believed while the ‘wise and understanding’ did not. What criterion was used by God to do this? It was according to God’s 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. (Matthew 11:27 ESV)
Jesus knew who He was and still is. He has a divine self-consciousness. He also has the supreme authority of the Father within the Holy Trinity. Within the Trinity Christ has been delegated authority over “all things.” These “things” probably refer to all that is needed to carry out Christ’s ministry of redemption. This ministry would include the revelation of salvation to those whom He “chooses to reveal” the Father. What does it mean that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son? Their relationship is exclusive. Notice that the Son chooses to whom to reveal the Father.
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 11:28-30 ESV)
This is an invitation to trust Jesus personally, not just believe facts about Him. This call is best understood in the context of Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Who answers this call? It is the poor in spirit. The call goes to everyone, but it is phrased such that the only ones who will respond are those burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy. This is the heavy burden that these poor in spirit grieve over that religion cannot alleviate. The weight of trying to save themselves by being religious is crushing them. However, there is good news. Christ says that all who are poor in spirit will answer this call to come to Him. In return, Christ gives them rest. This rest is freedom from endless, fruitless religious effort that so many labor under in an attempt to please God and earn their place in heaven.
This rest for our souls is eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works or by being religious. Those who find this freedom and rest are those who take on Christ’s yoke. This is a call to become His disciple. This is not a call to be come burdened by another form of legalism. Instead, it is a call that brings rest because it is a simple commitment to Christ.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. (1 John 5:1-4 ESV)
Do you see my brethren that those truly born again are those who are resting in Christ as His disciples? They keep His commandments from the motivation of love for Him, not in order to earn their salvation. I adjure each of you to examine yourselves. Ask God to reveal the truth of your standing before Him to your hearts. Repent of what He shows you then rest in our Lord as you walk and serve Him yoked up with Him. Love Him and serve Him for His glory alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!