Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (July 9):  "Learn from me and you will find rest for your soul "

Scripture:  Matthew 11:25-30

25 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 infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and  any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Meditation: Do you want to know the mind and heart of God? Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his followers the wisdom and knowledge of God. What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about our relationship with him? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of the earth as well as heaven. He is both the Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything. His authority, wisdom, and gracious care extends to every living thing, and his boundless love and goodness is directed to the welfare of each person made in his image and likeness. He is the source of all human life. That is why all fatherhood and motherhood are ultimately derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15).

Pride - the root of sin
Jesus' prayer contrasts the "wisdom of the world" with the wisdom which comes from above - from the Father of heaven who is all wise and good. Jesus' prayer contains an implicit warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. What makes us ignorant and blind to the wisdom of God? Certainly intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of will shut out God and his wise rule and fatherly care for our personal lives. Pride is the root of all vice and evil and the strongest influence propelling us to sin against God and to do wrong to our neighbor. Sinful pride first vanquishes the heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God. It also closes the mind to God's truth and wisdom for our lives. What is pride's flaw? It is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one's own knowledge, power, importance and position over others.

Simplicity and lowliness of heart
Jesus contrasts pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like "little children" in the sense that they see purely and simply without any pretense or falsehood. They instinctively recognize their utter dependence and reliance on others - especially those who can teach and form them to live strong, healthy, mature lives. No one can grow in wisdom and maturity unless they are willing to be taught and formed in how to live wisely and to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood.

Simplicity of heart is closely linked with humility - the queen of virtues that forgets oneself in order to love and serve others for their sake. The humble of heart are the freest of all - emptied of vanity and self-concern they can single-mindedly focus on the welfare of others. The Lord Jesus is our model. He proclaimed to his disciples, "I am gentle and lowly of heart" (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came "not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for the many" (Matthew 20:28). Jesus' "gentleness" is not weakness or powerlessness. It is "strength under control" which is at the service of good rather than evil.

Jesus humbled himself to lift us out of our misery and slavery to sin in order to raise us up to glory with him and the Father. Jesus came not to bruise the weak but to heal, to pardon and not to condemn, to restore us to abundant life by defeating sin, Satan, and death. It was love for his eternal Father and for each one of us that motivated Jesus to humble himself to death on the cross in order to rescue us from slavery to sin and death. The Lord Jesus shows us the true path of love and victory, freedom and joy, through the cross that defeated pride and hatred, greed and selfishness, guilt and condemnation.

True humility - which is the opposite of false modesty or feeling bad about oneself - frees us to pursue what is good, right, holy, and true. Scripture tells us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Only the humble in heart can receive the wisdom which comes from God and the understanding of God's perfect goodness and plan for our lives. Do you acknowledge your utter dependence on God and do you trust him with your whole heart, mind, and being?

The greatest reward for those who seek the "summum bonum" or "greatest good" is to be united with God - the one and only true source of peace, joy, and happiness that will last forever.

Knowing God personally
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make - he is the perfect revelation of God because he has been with the Father before all creation and time existed. He and the Father are united in an inseparable bond of love and unity. That is why Jesus alone can truly reveal the fullness of God's mind and heart and purpose for our lives.

One of the greatest truths of God's revelation and our Christian faith is that we can know the one true and living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing some things about God and his true  nature - we can know God our Father and Creator personally because God our Father desires to be closely united with each one of us in a bond of love through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus makes it possible for each one of us to have a personal direct relationship and experiential knowledge of God as our loving and gracious Father.

Through Jesus we have access to God the Father
To see the Lord Jesus is to recognize and know the true nature of God and his personal love for us. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God - a God who cares intensely and who yearns over every man and woman whom he has created in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God the Father loved us even while we were lost in ignorance and blinded by sin and pride. He sent us his Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who freely gave up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 1:7). Paul the Apostle tells us that Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15). He is the perfect revelation of God - a God who loves us totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. What can separate us from the love of God? Only our own stubborn pride, willfulness, and rebellious attitude towards God and his will for our lives.

Jesus makes an incredible promise to those who acknowledge him as their Lord and Savior. If we pray in his name - the name Jesus means God saves - then the Father in heaven will hear us as if his only begotten Son was speaking to him directly. That is the unity, blessing, and promise he wishes for each one of us. And that is why we have the confidence and boldness to pray as Jesus taught his disciples, Our Father who art in heaven... give us this day our daily bread, and deliver us from temptation.  Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his perfect love and care for you?

The sweet yoke of Jesus
What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel (Matthew 11:29)? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is "easy". The Greek word for "easy" can also mean "well-fitting". Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the "sweet yoke of Jesus" and to live the "heavenly way of life and happiness".

Jesus also says his "burden is light". There's a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love. Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Freedom from sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ's kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us - and give us a weight of love and glory in exchange. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a burden of glory and yoke of freedom from sin. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of grace and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God's love and submit to his will and plan for your life?

 "Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission."

Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14

1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you, and praise your name for ever and ever.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.  The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The grace of Christ bears us up, from an anonymous early Christian teacher

"'My yoke is easy and my burden light'... The prophet says this about the burden of sinners: 'Because my iniquities lie on top of my head, so they have also placed a heavy burden on me' (Psalm 38:4)... 'Place my yoke upon you, and learn from me that I am gentle and humble of heart.' Oh, what a very pleasing weight that strengthens even more those who carry it! For the weight of earthly masters gradually destroys the strength of their servants, but the weight of Christ rather helps the one who bears it, because we do not bear grace; grace bears us. It is not for us to help grace, but rather grace has been given to aid us." (excerpt from the INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 29: PG 56:780)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: copyright (c) 2017 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

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