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Jesus Preaches Law & Gospel. Matthew 11


Jesus Preaches Law and Gospel

Matthew 11:30

Law and Grace! They are, seemingly opposites, but they are both essential in our preaching, in our religion and in our worship. Like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage, and you can’t have one without the other.

Now this passage is a paradox. It compares law and gospel, sin and grace – two concepts which on the face of it seem to contradict each other, yet together they are true! Like a coin, with two sides – they are different, yet they are the same coin! It’s not a ‘one-off’ paradox either. It occurs frequently in the Bible. eg. Matthew 20:16 Matthew 22:14, John 6:37, John 15:16.

Now, let’s look at the passage and see what we can learn.

1 The Heavy Burden of the Law.
The background is that Jesus has been preaching about judgement again. He pronounces a series of woes on the unrepentant people of Israel who had all the privileges of divine revelation over centuries of time, but had rejected God. Their condemnation under the broken law is summed up in these awful words: 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”


The city dwellers are thoroughly condemned for their sin, their sinfulness, their rejection of the God who created them and delivered them. They have ignored redemptive history, the mighty acts of God in preserving and prospering them. They have turned their backs on God and because He is utterly Holy, they will stand before Him, condemned in their sins. There is no hope, humanly speaking. Yet, amazingly God continues to reveal himself to sinful mankind. There is good news – for there are sinners who WILL HEAR, those whom God has ordained to be his.

2 Christ’s Prayer of Thanksgiving V25
Is it strange that having pronounced a terribly woe upon these cities and their inhabitants, that Jesus now prays a prayer of thanksgiving to God His Father? No, not really, for…

  • He teaches us who will respond to the Gospel. Look at the characteristics of these sinners, brought under conviction, and see how the Holy Spirit prepares sinners to hear the Gospel. How He opens their eyes to their lost condition, and draws them to Christ. That there are those who like little babies, and humble enough to admit their need of a Saviour. Note that this is a thanksgiving, no doubt in comparison to the proud people of the cities who have rejected him. 1 Cor. 1:21. 1 Tim. 6:20.
  • He teaches us some important facts about God, See how Jesus teaches us about God in this prayer. We learn about
    • His fatherhood. “I thank You, Father, There is no doubt that when we come to God in prayer we should come to him, who is our Father. That’s how we are taught to address him in the Lord’s prayer.
    • His sovereignty. Lord of heaven and earth,
    • His divine revelation of Himself. You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Yet God REVEALS himself to us! In two ways – for he reveals himself in Creation to all of mankind, so that we are without excuse, and in special revelation to His own people, through His Word.
    • His divine will. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. Why does God choose some to salvation and not others? Why do some be called to serve in ministry and others not? What is our response to the will of God? Are we anxious, jealous? Or do we simply thank God that he is being glorified in our lives, whatever form that may take? Can we truly pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…’ and really mean that? Is that why Jesus prayed this prayer in the hearing of his disciples, that they might learn this important lesson?
    • His relationship with His Only Son, Jesus. v27 Notice the intimacy here between Father and Son.


3 The Liberating Message of the Gospel.
Now, after the convicting message of sin, and the wrath of God upon sinners, and Christ’s prayer, thanking God for his sovereignty, surrendering to his will, comes the call to those who will respond in repentance. The call to come.

  • Come to Christ. Come to Me, What an inclusive invitation this is. All manner of people from every part of society may come to Christ. Just come.
  • Come with your burden. all you who labour and are heavy laden. In Chapter 12:1-8, where the disciples were accused to doing on the Sabbath what is not lawful – what laws were they breaking? Not the Torah, but the Mishnah! So Jesus invites us to come to him, overwhelmed by our burden of the broken law, leaving our burden at the cross, and taking upon ourselves Christ’s yoke, (the reference is to discipleship – when a student followed a Rabbi, he took that Rabbi’s ‘yoke’ upon himself). See v29,
  • Come and REST! and I will give you rest. If you are labouring, and carrying a great burden, there is no doubt that rest is very welcome indeed! Ecclesiastes 5:12
    • He gives us rest. Rest from our sin! Rest from our tortured conscience, troubled by the weight of sin. Rest from the power of sin, and one day, rest from sin’s presence for ever. Hebrews 4:9.
    • We rest in Him! you will find rest for your souls. We can confidently place all our trust and confidence in our loving Saviour – the one who loved us so much that he gave his own life for us on the cross, taking all our sins upon him, so that we would be spared from the consequences of our sin which were due to us.

So, in this short passage we find a description of Christian conversion and Christian preaching. Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace. You can’t have one without the other.

© BobMcEvoy January 2019

Heidelberg Catechism.

  • Q120 ‘Why has Christ commanded us to address God as our Father?’
    Answer: ‘To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer that childlike reverence and trust toward God which should be basic to our prayer: God has become our Father through Christ and will much less deny us what we ask of him in faith than our fathers would refuse us earthly things.
  • Q26, What do you believe when you say: I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
    Answer: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who still upholds and governs them by his eternal counsel and providence, is, for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father.
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