There are few passages in the four Gospels more important than this. There are few which contain so many precious truths in so short a compass. May God give us an eye to see, and a heart to feel their value!
1. A Childlike and Teachable Frame of Mind
First, let us learn the excellence of a childlike and teachable frame of mind. Our Lord says to his Father, "You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children" (verse 25).
It is not for us to attempt to explain why some receive and believe the Gospel, while others do not. The sovereignty of God in this matter is a deep mystery: we cannot fathom it. But one thing, at all events, stands out in Scripture as a great practical truth to be remembered always. Those from whom the Gospel is hidden are generally "the wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight"; those to whom the Gospel is revealed are generally humble, simple-minded, and willing to learn. The words of the Virgin Mary are continually being fulfilled: "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:53).
Let us watch against pride in every shape, pride of intellect, pride of wealth, pride in our own goodness, pride in our own deserts. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of heaven, and prevent him seeing Christ, as pride. So long as we think we are something we shall never be saved. Let us pray for and cultivate humility; let us seek to know ourselves aright, and to find out our place in the sight of a holy God. The beginning of the way to heaven is to feel that we are on the way to hell, and to be willing to be taught by the Spirit. One of the first steps in saving Christianity is to be able to say with Saul, "Lord, what will you have me do? (see Acts 9:6). There is hardly a sentence of our Lord’s so frequently repeated as this: "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14).
2. The Greatness and Majesty of Jesus Christ
Second, let us learn from these verses the greatness and majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The language of our Lord on this subject is deep and wonderful. He says, "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" (verse 27). We may truly say, as we read these words, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:6). We see something of the perfect union which exists between the first and second Persons of the Trinity; we see something of the immeasurable superiority of the Lord Jesus to all who are nothing more than human. But when we have said all this, we must confess that there are heights and depths in this verse which are beyond our feeble comprehension. We can only admire them in the spirit of little children, but the half, we must feel, remains untold.
Let us, however, draw from these words the great practical truth that all power over everything that concerns our soul’s interests is placed in our Lord Jesus Christ’s hands. "All things have been committed to" him. He carries the keys: to him we must go for admission into heaven. He is the door: through him we must enter. He is the Shepherd: we must hear his voice and follow him if we do not want to perish in the wilderness. He is the Physician: we must apply to him if we want to be healed of the plague of sin. He is the bread of life: we must feed on him if we want to have our souls satisfied. He is the light: we must follow him if we do not want to wander in darkness. He is the fountain: we must wash in his blood if we want to be cleansed and made ready for the great day of account. Blessed and glorious are these truths! If we have Christ, we have all things (1 Corinthians 3:22).
3. The Breadth and the Gospel Invitations
Third, let us learn from this passage the breadth and fullness of the invitations of Christ’s Gospel.
The three last verses of the chapter, which contain this lesson, are indeed precious. They meet the trembling sinner who asks, "Will Christ reveal his Father’s love to someone like me?" with the most gracious encouragement. They are verses which deserve to be read with special attention. For 1900 years they have been a blessing to the world, and have done good to myriads of souls. There is not a sentence in them which does not contain a mine of thought.
We should notice whom Jesus invites. He does not address those who feel themselves righteous and worthy. He addresses "all you who are weary and burdened" (verse 28). It is a wide description; it comprises multitudes in this weary world. All who feel a load on their heart which they want to be free of, a load of sin or a load of sorrow, a load of anxiety or a load of remorse—all, whoever they may be and whatever their past lives, all these people are invited to come to Christ.
We should notice what a gracious offer Jesus makes: "I will give you rest.… You will find rest for your souls" (verses 28–29). How cheering and comforting are these words! Unrest is one great characteristic of the world: hurry, vexation, failure, disappointment stare us in the face on every side. But here is hope: there is an ark of refuge for the weary, as truly as there was for Noah’s dove. There is rest in Christ, rest of conscience, and rest of heart, rest built on pardon of all sin, rest flowing from peace with God.
We should note what a simple request Jesus makes to the weary and burdened ones. "Come to me.… Take my yoke upon you and learn from me" (verses 28–29). He imposes no hard conditions; he does not say anything about work to be done first, or establishing whether we deserve his gifts: he only asks us to come to him just as we are, with all our sins, and to submit ourselves like little children to his teaching. "Do not go," he seems to say, "other people for relief. Do not wait for help to come from any other quarter. Just as you are, this very day, come to me."
We should note what an encouraging account Jesus gives of himself. He says, "I am gentle and humble in heart" (verse 29). How true that is. The experience of all the saints of God has often proved it. Mary and Martha at Bethany, Peter after his fall, the disciples after the resurrection, Thomas after his cold unbelief, all tasted the gentleness and humility of Christ. It is the only place in Scripture where the "heart" of Christ is actually named. It is a saying never to be forgotten.
4. Serving Jesus
Fourth, we should note the encouraging account that Jesus gives of his service. He says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (verse 30). No doubt there is a cross to be carried, if we follow Christ; no doubt there are trials to be endured, and battles to be fought; but the comforts of the Gospel far outweigh the cross. Compared to the service of the world and sin, compared to the yoke of Jewish ceremonies and the bondage of human superstition, Christ’s service is in the highest sense easy and light. His yoke is no more a burden than the feathers are to a bird; his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3); his ways are pleasant ways, and all his paths are peace (see Proverbs 3:17).
And now comes the solemn inquiry, "Have we accepted this invitation for ourselves? Have we no sins to be forgiven, no griefs to be removed, no wounds of conscience to be healed?" Let us hear Christ’s voice: he speaks to us as well as to the Jews. He says, "Come unto me." Here is the key to true happiness; here is the secret of having a light heart. Everything turns and hinges on an acceptance of this offer of Christ.
May we never be satisfied till we know and feel that we have come to Christ by faith for rest, and do still come to him for fresh supplies of grace every day! If we have come to him already, let us learn to cling to him more closely. If we have never come to him yet, let us begin to come today. His word shall never be broken: "whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37).