There is a fair bit going on in our passage from Matthew’s gospel today.
There is Jesus comparing His generation to a group of fickle little children.
There is talk of John the Baptist.
There is talk of wisdom.
There is the woe to the unrepentant towns --- Jesus denouncing certain towns and lauding others.
There is the revelation of the Father through the Son --- the claim that in order to know God you must also know Jesus.
And there is the call to all who are weary and burdened --- to come for rest ---- and take the yoke of Christ and learn from the humble one whose yoke is easy and burden is light.
And at the heart of all of these things ------ is the message that there is a new way ---- a far wiser and faithful way ---- the way of God’s wisdom and will.
And this way of wisdom only comes with a changed heart and an openness to God revealing and sharing with us.
God’s will or God’s wisdom --- is not something we can discover all on our own.
God’s wisdom is a revelation --- a message ---- an unveiling from God --- and it happens when God so chooses --- why God so chooses --- and how God so chooses.
Matthew begins this passage with Jesus talking about how most people from His generation --- are like soft minded infants who get easily upset when things don’t go their way.
“We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.”
In other words --- we did this and you didn’t do what we wanted you to do --- what we expected you to do.
And then we did that --- and again you didn’t do what we wanted you to do --- what we expected you to do.
Clearly they have it all backwards --- life isn’t about us doing something and then expecting God to do something in return --- God responding to us.
It’s the other way around.
Instead --- or at least it ought to be --- all about our response to God and what He has done.
God is the one revealing --- setting the pace --- taking the lead --- teaching ------ leading ----- guiding us ----- opening our eyes and hearts to His way.
And we are the ones responding ----- responding to His great love and compassion ----- grace and mercy.
Clearly that wasn’t the case --- or Jesus wouldn’t have spoken as He did.
Instead the people ----- “this generation” ----- as He says in verse 16 today ------ were acting and then expecting God to respond to them --- and then when God didn’t do as they expected they’re at a loss.
But it doesn’t work this way.
Many people are often far too fickle.
When John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking much --- people said “He has a demon.”
And then when Jesus came enjoying meals and hospitality with people ---- they said --- “He’s a glutton and a drunkard --- friends with everybody --- including tax collectors and sinners.”
On the one hand it’s ---- “He must have a demon he doesn’t eat and drink and celebrate with people.”
And then on the other --- it’s --- “He --- well --- he eats and drinks and celebrates with people way too much --- he’s a glutton and a drunkard.”
The people were unhappy either way --- they wanted things to happen as they wanted them to --- but then we quickly see that no matter how they happened they were unhappy and had disparaging comments either way.
And so Jesus speaks up saying --- that they need to change.
It’s not about them doing something and then God acting in return --- God responding to them.
Instead it’s about them changing their ways.
To repent --- in the New Testament meant to turn away from ---- to change one’s way.
“Metanoia” --- often translated as repent ---- means to change one’s way ----- and that is precisely what Jesus is talking about here --- changing one’s way.
Those at Chorazin ----- and Bethsaida ----- despite what God had done --- changed not.
If those same things had of happened in Tyre and Sidon ----- Jesus says in verse 21 ----- the people there would have repented --- changed their ways.
Essentially Jesus warns them to be attentive to what God is doing in their midst and adjust and respond to God’s goodness accordingly.
And that is precisely what we are called to do today in our time.
Not play a certain song on the pipe or piano --- and expect God to react to us in a certain way.
Not sing a certain kind of song ---- dirge or otherwise --- and expect God to react in a certain way.
Instead we are to be attentive to God moving and working --- reconciling and redeeming in our midst ---- and respond by changing our ways to be far more in line with His ways.
What we are to do and be ------ can never fully come to us on our own.
What we are called to do and be must revealed to us by God.
In verse 25 to 27 today we are reminded that we need Jesus to open us up to what the Father has in mind --- in store for us ---- we cannot pretend to fathom the knowledge --- the wisdom of God ---- without also first relationship with the Risen Christ.
Without Christ God ultimately eludes the human grasp.
Christ opens up to us the very will --- the very wisdom of God.
Going to Christ ---- meeting Christ at the cross is not ever about being unduly burdened with what God has in store for us.
Quite the opposite --- meeting the crucified and Risen one at the cross ---- is all about coming to that which is custom fit for each and every one of us --- and ultimately puts us at ease and frees us from imposition.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” ---- Jesus says at the end of our reading from Matthew’s gospel today.
This is all about the wisdom of God --- our calling in Christ coming to us ------ and fitting us hand in glove.
Hand in custom made glove.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Easy doesn’t quite capture the right sentiment ---- usually when we think of a yoke we think of something that is placed upon us like a burden.
Here easy has more to do with custom fit --- made just for one person and one person only --- and so it fits that person easily.
Jesus doesn’t share a calling with us --- in a one size fits all kind of approach.
Our calling in Christ ----- whatever it is that God has in store for us at a certain time --- it can change over time --- it can change many many times over time --- but whatever it is that God has in mind for us at a certain time --- is never just about a general ------ one size fits all kind of approach.
The yoke that God has in mind for us --- the wisdom He reveals to us at any given time ------ is made specifically for us --- individually for us --- and so it fits --- it meets us perfectly shaping and reshaping us.
When God comes to us with a very specific thing in mind for us ----- we also find that it ultimately fits us and only us.
That’s what this passage is all about.
Don’t be like people who do something and want God to react to their actions in certain ways.
Don’t be the one’s who says things like --- “Hey God I did this for you how come you didn’t do that for me?”
Instead listen to and for the voice --- the wisdom of God --- and then respond faithfully.
Don’t think you can know what God wants by just sitting around thinking about it --- see the Christ --- go to the Christ --- meet Christ at the cross ----- and He will put the custom cut yoke upon you and you will know what you are being called to do and be.
And when God acts --- respond --- repent ---- and change your ways --- don’t just keep on living and thinking and acting the same way as you did before ---- change your ways in accordance with what has been revealed to you by God.
We are called to be receptive and teachable ---- and change our ways as God so reveals Himself and His wisdom to us through the crucified and Risen one.
God may be the same yesterday --- today ----- and tomorrow --- but He wants us to be different and change as He so reveals Himself to us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ---- “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation --- the old has passed away and everything has become new.” ----- isn’t just something that happens once --- it happens over and over and over again.
We are made new in Christ over and over and over again --- and it’s a beautiful thing each and every time it happens.
And only God knows what our next change will be ---- only God knows just how He will ask us to change next.
In the meantime we go to Him in prayer ---- and seek His divine direction.
Very often --- too often perhaps even ---- our prayers are about going to God once we have decided what we want to do --- and then asking for strength.
Instead we should be going to God in prayer asking him what He wants us to do and be.
The people in the beginning of our passage today --- went to God after they had decided what to do --- and then they were disappointed when God didn’t respond as they had hoped.
Jesus comes along and says --- don’t do something and then ask God to respond ----- wait on God --- pray to God ---- and then once He has revealed His direction to you --- go and follow through on it..
Many of the people in the cities ---- including specifically Chorazin and Bethsaida ----- had it all wrong.
God acted --- revealed Himself --- showed them things --- shared His wisdom ------ but it didn’t change a thing.
Some of the people ----- like those in Tyre ----- and Sidon --- on the other hand changed their ways after God has acted and shared His will and wisdom.
Think of Nineveh --- the city of Nineveh ---- after Jonah finally got there --- caught in a storm and spit up by the whale and so on ----- once he finally arrived at the city and shared God’s message --- they changed their ways --- acted and lived and thought differently because of what was revealed to them by the prophet.
That’s the kind of change God is looking for in us.
Hearing His message and then changing according to the very nature of that message at that time --- that wisdom at that time.
Whatever it is that God has in store for us --- only God knows --- and the only way we can ever find out what it is ----- is by listening to Him --- by gathering with the crucified and resurrected one and attending on God.
And make no mistake about it God’s wisdom can all too easily elude human grasp without also the guidance of Christ.
As Jesus so poignantly says in Matthew today --- picking it up at verse 27 ---- “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Jesus reveals to us things about the will and wisdom of God that without Him would never happen --- never come to us.
That’s why we take His yoke upon us --- the yoke that is easy and light --- because it is custom made for us and it opens our eyes to things about God that otherwise would forever remain hidden from our sight.
Jesus asks that we trust Him completely --- and so we must.
We are called to let God be --- on God’s terms.
Not devise certain terms and conditions of our own.
God’s wisdom has a beautiful perfection and timeliness all of its own ----- and we are called to put our trust in Him.
The gracious Lord gently calls us to follow Him and take His yoke upon us.
When we do ----- we soon see a whole new world and way of being.
One that we would never have come to on our own.
As we sang earlier --- “Open the eyes of my heart Lord --- I want to see you.”
That’s precisely what God does --- opens our hearts --- allowing us to see Him.
God’s wisdom may seem foolish to this world --- but it is the greatest --- richest --- most beautiful ---- and powerful thing ever.
And it is there for each and every one of us if only we listen ----- and if only we take His yoke upon us and walk with the crucified and Risen one ---- taking everything to Him in prayer --- and changing our ways as God so leads us.
May we forever remain in tune with the will of God in the person of Christ --- may His wisdom lead us like a shining star in the sky ---- to all that is right and true and beautiful.
May we hear the voice of Christ --- calling us out above all the other voices we hear ----
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”
And may we change our ways --- go in a new direction ----l eave by another road ------ after we encounter the crucified --- Risen and ascended one.
God is good and He was wonderful things in store for us --- if we listen and follow.