SECTION 5: THE CLAIMS OF THE KING
GREATER KNOWLEDGE = GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
LEARNING FROM JESUS
Scripture To Consider:
“Then Jesus began to upbraid [or reprove] the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin? Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you.’“
“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for you.” Matthew 11.20-24
Something To Consider:
Jesus implies a further claim when He returns to pronounce His solemn woes upon Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Who but a divine King could venture to pronounce such penalties upon these cities? Who would venture to declare the relative punishments which would be meted out in the Day of Judgment? More definite still was the implication that, if failure to believe in Him was declared to be cause for eternal punishment, then surely, He must be the Christ, the Savior, who was in His person all that He suggested and declared.
Can we imagine any other man than Jesus solemnly stating that if men did not believe in Him and accept Him as Lord and Savior, they should suffer the doom of hell? Who must it be who makes such claims for Himself? It is well to note here that Jesus pronounces His woes not merely upon the wicked, the immoral, and the depraved, but upon those who are indifferent to His claims.
Again, it should be noted that Jesus insists that the larger the opportunity for belief, the greater is the condemnation upon those who reject Him. Capernaum is to be brought down unto Hades because the city has been exalted to heaven in the privilege it had enjoyed in witnessing the mighty works of Christ. In other words, His miracles were His credentials!
Whatever view may be taken by modern men, women, and young people, of these wonderful works, Jesus declared that they bore definite testimony to His claims and that those who beheld them were under greater condemnation for their unbelief. It is certainly true today that a larger or greater knowledge of Jesus and His power places upon mankind a greater responsibility to accept Him as Lord and Master and to render Him homage as to the universal King.
More Scripture To Consider:
“At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’“
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden [burdened], 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
Something Else To Consider:
It is at this time that Jesus gave expression to the truths which embody such definite claims of a unique relationship to God, that they are regarded by many as equal to the similar statements in the gospel of John. They should be weighed carefully by those who insist that the first three gospels do not testify to the divine nature of Christ. Jesus here returns thanks that the truth concerning Himself, while hidden from the wise and understanding, has been revealed to babes.
Jesus does not mean that intellectual attainment necessarily stands in the way of faith in Him; but He does imply that it is not necessary. Even the most ignorant and unlearned are able to apprehend the saving truth concerning Christ. Their ignorance is no advantage; yet it is no disqualification. In other words, Jesus is returning thanks that saving knowledge is not dependent upon worldly wisdom.
Jesus goes on to state that no one really understands Him except the Father, and that no one really knows God the Father except those to whom Jesus is willing to reveal Him to. As we remember this claim of a unique and incomparable knowledge of the Father and an ability to reveal this knowledge to whomsoever He will, we can fully understand the difficult but precious and incomparably beautiful invitation, familiar to every believing heart, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden [or heavy burdened], and I will give you rest.”
To those who are burdened by the legal requirements of the professed teachers of religion, to those whose hearts are heavy with doubt, sorrow, and fear, Jesus gives this gracious call to come to Him, as to one who can reveal to them the Father in all His grace, goodness, and love. And so, Jesus urges all to become His disciples, by His simply stating, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentile and lowly in heart.”
In contrast to the teachers of the day, Jesus declared that He was and remains gentile or meek and lowly in heart, unlike the majority of so-called religious leaders of every generation. Therefore, He offers to all men, women, and young people rest, not from physical burdens, not from struggles and distresses, but in spite of all these, rest for the soul.
Jesus strengthens His invitation by the blessed assurance that the yoke He asks us to bear is easy, while confirming that the burden He places upon us is light. This is indeed an incomparable invitation; and does it not embody a matchless claim? Who among all the characters that have stepped upon the stage of human history could venture to say for a single moment what Jesus claims in our Scripture to consider?
On the lips of any other speaker would it not sound hollow, futile, and absurd? As the words fall from His lips, they touch the soul with all the sweet cadences of a heavenly melody, and with all the assurance of divine reality. He who spoke these words must have been the Son of God. Jesus must have been and remains the divine King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, it would be wise of us to indeed learn from Him.
Something More To Consider:
Jesus so elegantly declared, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” It is important to point out that yokes were primarily used as coupling instruments placed upon the shoulders of two animals working side by side in unison to complete a common task. The phrase, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me”, takes on a whole new meaning when a person realizes that carpenters created yokes and that Jesus probably spent His early years working in the family carpenter shop.
How many yokes do you suppose Jesus made during His at home years until approx. thirty years of age, while following in His earthly foster father’s footsteps in the family business? That would of course be impossible to correctly answer, but what could be accurately concluded is that Jesus probably built some of the finest and best fitting animal yokes in all of Galilee and beyond.
One could easily assume that a well-fitting yoke was the key ingredient to a well working team of oxen. I can picture Jesus smoothing with hand-made tools and sanding with His own hands the yoke wood to perfectly fit and comfortably contour to each individual animal’s differing body and muscular profile to achieve the maximum comfort and working benefit of a laboring work force team.
A Few Final Words:
Therefore, as Jesus proclaimed, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me”, He was and still is advocating for a well-balanced working relationship between the servant of the Lord and the Lord Himself. When Jesus confessed, “For I am gentile and lowly in heart”, He was and still is expressing a character trait that He wishes us to learn from Him by our abiding comfortably in Him as if well-yoked to Him on a daily basis.
And if we as faithful servants are willing to come unto Jesus, to take His yoke upon us, and to be willing to learn from Him, then He promises, “And you will find rest for your souls.” His promise comes with His guarantee, when Jesus acknowledged, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” In other words, according to Jesus, if our yoke is hard, and if our burden is heavy, we should further investigate just whose yoke and whose burden we are bearing!
Yes, greater knowledge does equal greater responsibility; especially if the greater knowledge is true biblical knowledge. And true biblical knowledge can only come through our first coming to Jesus on His terms. Greater biblical knowledge and greater spiritual responsibility can only come through our becoming gentile and lowly in heart as was and is Jesus our great and exceedingly wise example.
And that only happens in our lives as we remain willing to learn from Jesus. And by the way, the “Learning From Jesus” class is always in session! With Christmas just days away, will we prayerfully consider attending the school of the Holy Spirit this new year that is again upon us?
Our Father in heaven, thank You for allowing us to understand that greater biblical knowledge equals greater spiritual responsibility. Help us to desire to live godly lives while learning from Jesus on a daily basis. May we willingly allow You to fashion our own spiritual yokes in a way that totally conforms to Your perfect will. Help us to be found following after Jesus as we approach a new year. In Him Always, Amen!