ELCA pastors and leaders are sharing contemplative prompts for reflection and meditation. Today, Ismael Calderón, a pastor in the Florida-Bahamas Synod, shares his thoughts on Matthew 11:25-30:

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 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 you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Living Lutheran: What does this passage mean in context?

Calderón: This passage deals with the rejection of Jesus and John the Baptist by the Jews (Matthew 11:16-19) and the hardness of heart from people living in cities where Jesus performed miracles (20-24). Those who were rejecting Jesus were the religious teachers and leaders of the Jewish community. They were wise, intelligent and knowledgeable of religious truth. But they were not humble in spirit. They were arrogant in their attitude toward God.

Jesus said to these people: “Everyone, therefore, who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

What was going on with these people that made this story significant?

Jesus mentions cities whose inhabitants witnessed Jesus’ miracles, teachings and ministry but responded with rejection and disbelief. Now, in verse 25, Jesus addresses God the Father and begins with the phrase “I thank you.” The way in which Jesus expresses himself and communicates with God the Father denotes closeness, intimacy and recognition. Jesus praises and thanks God the Father for hiding the sense of his ministry from the wise and intelligent and reserving it for “children” (humble). The wise and understanding represent people who boast of their intelligence, falling into pride.

At the same time, Jesus refers to the people of Israel, who seem to respond neither to the message of John the Baptist nor to the message proclaimed by Jesus. Jesus uses the illustration of children who call their companions, but they do not participate or respond to the call in any of its forms, either joyfully. The same people (this generation) first heard the message of John the Baptist and then the message of Jesus, but their response was rejection, disbelief and disobedience. The generation to which Jesus refers chooses not to participate in the call or invitation that is made to them. The same generation responds with indifference.

In this group the Pharisees and Scribes are represented since they, having accumulated knowledge of the Scriptures, did not value, understand or recognize the message and ministry of Jesus. While humble people, without high levels of education or social rank, were those compared to “children.” The humble were receptive and responded by becoming followers of Christ—such is the example of some of the disciples.

What does this mean for the modern world? What can we learn from this?

The answers to these questions are in the same passage. In verse 28, Jesus extends an invitation to those who want to receive his message—those who accept him and open their hearts to his teachings. Jesus receives all those who feel tired, overworked and loaded, offering rest. In this verse we learn that peace and rest can be found in Jesus—specially for those who feel troubled, isolated or overwhelmed in this chaotic modern world. The rest that Jesus offers cannot be compared to any other nor can it be found in anyone else.

In addition, in verses 29-30, Jesus invites us to be his disciples, to be his followers. This is what he means when he says: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” We are called to follow him and obey his teachings of love and unity, as well as his example of humility, heart and meekness, which leads us to the rest of the soul and a full life.

Can you share a meditation, prayer, or journal prompt inspired by this Scripture?
Let us pray:

Almighty and Loving God,
you give strength to the weary
and new courage to those who have lost hearts.
Heal the sick, comfort the dying, give safety to travelers,
free those unjustly deprived of liberty
and deliver your world from falsehood, hunger and disease.
Hear the prayers of all who call on you in any trouble,
that they may have the joy of receiving your help in their need.
Let us feel your grace and peace in this modern world.
Teach us to follow your message of abundant love.
Teach us to be children with a humble heart
and to learn from your life-giving teachings.
We pray in Jesusname.

Amen.

 

Kelly Wilkerson
Kelly Wilkerson is a content strategist for the ELCA. She is a former Worship Minister, Creative Arts Director, Youth and Family Director, and has been working in full-time ministry for her entire professional career. Kelly is using her passion for storytelling, art, design, and social media to serve in the office of the presiding bishop on the strategic communications team. She is also an ELCA coach and currently resides in Columbus, OH with her fiancee and their 80 lb bernedoodle.

Read more about: