Matthew 11:25-30 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 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. 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.”
When something makes us very happy, we often have to show it with mouth or body. Maybe you have seen commercials for lottery tickets. The people in those commercials are dancing around because they are so happy they won. Maybe you have heard songs on the radio with lines like, “You make me want to shout,” or “You make me feel like dancing.” Sometimes people even say, “I’m so happy I could cry.”
Jesus tells us that people learning and believing God’s word makes him so happy he has to worship! That’s what he says in these words from Matthew’s gospel. You and I make Jesus praise the Lord, because we know things hidden from the wise, we know our heavenly Father, and we know Jesus’ rest.
During our school years we want to master mathematics, reading, history, grammar, and science, among other subjects. Those serve us well in adult life, though we may question the practical importance of some. But none of those things teaches us the most important thing we need to learn in our youth.
Many students have learned those lessons well across the years. It helped them become very successful in their careers. Some made lots of money. Some were considered very smart. But some thought they were so smart that they were smarter than God himself. They didn’t think they needed to listen to what God has to say anymore. They imagined they could make up their own ideas about right and wrong, where we come from, and where we are going when we die. God didn’t hide the truth from them. They heard about it, even read it for themselves. But the truth was so simple, so pure, and so clear that they wouldn’t believe it. It wasn’t “smart” enough for them. And God was not going to change the truth just because they thought they were too smart to believe it. It was hidden from them only because they refused to believe it.
I can’t think of any sin as dangerous as thinking that we are smarter than God. Once we think we are smarter than him about one thing, what’s to prevent us from thinking that we are smarter than him about everything else? Then we stop believing in him. Still, that’s what we do every time we sin. We think that we are so smart because we don’t believe what God has to say about some behavior, and we do what we want to do. That’s a good way to lose your faith.
God has kept us from falling so far in his grace. At church or reading our Bibles, we still hear him speaking to us in his word. Then we are the children to whom the Father reveals these things. Jesus praised the Lord because simple Christians like us know things from God’s word that have been hidden from the wise.
But what is it that we know? Jesus goes on to say, “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.”
Do you understand what he is saying? If we listen to what he tells us, then we will know our heavenly Father. Even more, that is the only way we can know him. Jesus must introduce us to him.
Knowing the Father doesn’t mean we will know about him like we know about great men of history. He doesn’t mean that we will learn about him like we learn how algebra works, or what makes igneous rocks different from sedimentary rocks.
When we know God as our Father, when we pray to him as “Our Father who art in heaven,” then we know him like we know our parents, siblings, or best friend. We know him personally, intimately in a way that has nothing to do with how smart we are. Even little children who know God this way know more than many wise and learned people. Knowing God so makes us praise him just as Jesus praises him here.
When we know God so personally, we also know that Jesus gives us rest. “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.”
Learning to know God in the Bible, learning to know Jesus, can involve hard work: studying, pondering, memorizing. But Jesus doesn’t invite us to know him to pour more work on us. He intends to lift something from us. He takes away the burden of our sins and our guilt. He shows us that God loved us so much he spent thousands of years making a way for us to be saved and go to heaven. Jesus did all the work for our sins to be forgiven with his perfect life and his death on the cross. In one way or another, everything we hear, learn, or memorize from the Bible helps us know and understand this better. We know that Jesus gives us rest, rest for our souls, and that is an easy “burden” to carry.
Knowing God this way is so simple that even a child can do it. It fills our hearts with his blessing, and Jesus’ heart with praise.