July 3, 2008 | PENTECOST 8
Judges 6:36-40 Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26 (1)
Ephesians 4:11-16 | John 14:1-7
EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
July 6, 2008 (Lectionary 14)
Psalm 145:8-14 (8)
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45:10-17 (7) or Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (10)
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
The LBW lectionary (Pentecost XI) treated verses 25-30 as the full pericope. In the newer ELW lectionary, however, verses 16-19 round out this text in a way both undergirds and introduces the longer section. The naïve ignorance of the children playing in the marketplace is obviously a clear analog for the fickle treatment received by the Son of Man. Thus is the “messianic secret” of Jesus both reinforced and challenged here. Matthew 11:25-30 is also parallel to Luke 10:21-22, although they are
found in somewhat different contexts. In Luke the pericope immediately
follows the return of the seventy from their apostolic mission. In Matthew the question to Jesus from John in prison (11:3) precedes the pericope. Actually, the general context of both is quite similar. Although the setting in Luke suggests viewing this passage as a thanksgiving for the successful mission, the Lucan context also includes woes and threats of judgment (10:13-15) parallel to Matthew (11:20-24). Also, the complete
context of Matthew includes the commissioning of the twelve (10:5-42), much of which is parallel to the commissioning ofthe seventy in Luke (10:1-20). In Matthew, the
specific context is a general upbraiding of the Galilean people for their weak response to the words and deeds of Jesus, for their lack of repentance, and for their shallow or even non-existent discipleship. The "condemned" are then contrasted with the "accepted."
The best known verses of this pericope, vv. 28-30, are unique to
Matthew's gospel. Apparently, as commentators concur, Mt. 11:25-27 and
its Lucan parallel come from the common source (Q) which both
evangelists share. Is Mt. 11:28-30 also from Q or from an independent
source? Although a few have suggested that Luke dropped vv. 28-30, Hans
Dieter Betz, in his survey of this issue, persuasively argues that these
verses are independent from Q. He does not agree with D.F. Strauss and E.
Norden that the entire pericope, 11:25-30, may derive from Wisdom
literature, such as Sirach 51 [Sirach 51 being divided into three parts
(1-12, 13-22, and 23-30) corresponding to the three divisions of the
Matthew pericope (25-26, 27, 28-30) ]. (cf. also M.J. Suggs, WISDOM,
CHRISTOLOGY AND LAW IN MATTHEW'S GOSPEL, pp. 99-108). Betz notes the
apparent independence of vv. 28-30, since they are almost parallel to
logion 90 in the Gospel of Thomas (Betz, p. 19), which is not associated
with Mt. 11:25-27. That this pericope has some association with Wisdom
literature, even Gnostic literature, does not necessitate that it is derivative,
dependent upon other sources and then ascribed to Jesus (cf.
Dunn, James D.G., pp. 199-200).
1b. TEXT: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” 
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 little children;
26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone 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.”
 11:19 Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35)
 11:26 Or for so it pleased you well
( FROM: http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/ )
16τινι δε ομοιωσω την γενεαν ταυτην; ομοια εστιν παιδιοις καθημενοις εν ταις αγοραις α προσφωνουντα τοις ετεροις
17λεγουσιν, ηυλησαμεν υμιν και ουκ ωρχησασθε: εθρηνησαμεν και ουκ εκοψασθε.
18ηλθεν γαρ ιωαννης μητε εσθιων μητε πινων, και λεγουσιν, δαιμονιον εχει:
19ηλθεν ο υιος του ανθρωπου εσθιων και πινων, και λεγουσιν, ιδου ανθρωπος φαγος και οινοποτης, τελωνων φιλος και αμαρτωλων. και εδικαιωθη η σοφια απο των εργων αυτης.
25 εν εκεινω τω καιρω αποκριθεις ο ιησους ειπεν, εξομολογουμαι σοι, πατερ, κυριε του ουρανου και της γης, οτι εκρυψας ταυτα απο σοφων και συνετων και απεκαλυψας αυτα νηπιοις: 26 ναι, ο πατηρ, οτι ουτως ευδοκια εγενετο εμπροσθεν σου.
27 παντα μοι παρεδοθη υπο του πατρος μου, και ουδεις επιγινωσκει τον υιον ει μη ο πατηρ, ουδε τον πατερα τις επιγινωσκει ει μη ο υιος και ω εαν βουληται ο υιος αποκαλυψαι.
28 δευτε προς με παντες οι κοπιωντες και πεφορτισμενοι, καγω αναπαυσω υμας.
29 αρατε τον ζυγον μου εφ υμας και μαθετε απ εμου, οτι πραυς ειμι και ταπεινος τη καρδια, και ευρησετε αναπαυσιν ταις ψυχαις υμων:
30 ο γαρ ζυγος μου χρηστος και το φορτιον μου ελαφρον εστιν.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Matthew 11:25 - (en ekeino to kairo) - ("At that time") is a connecting
phrase (Kingsbury, p. 6), a "literary seam" (McKenzie, JBC 43:2), which is
chronologically unspecific, but which relates the subsequent verses to the
preceding section (Carson, EBC, p. 274). (exomologoumai soi, pater....) - ("I
thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. . .") - Jeremias includes vv.
25-27 among the prayers of Jesus (Jeremias, p. 45ff.). It may have
originated with the language of berakah, a blessing or praising of God. The
verb (exomologoumai) basically means "to acknowledge." When used in
reference to sins, the verb then means "to confess," but when used in
reference to God, the meaning becomes "to praise" or "to give thanks." This
verse and its parallel in Luke are the only verses in the New Testament
where this verb is used with the meaning of giving thanks or praise.
Contrast this with 37 instances of the verb eucharisteo.
hoti ekrypsas tauta.... - Are the sophoi ("wise") and synetoi
("understanding" or "intelligent") specifically selected out and rejected by
God? Does Jesus refer specifically to the scribes and Pharisees? Is
education a hindrance to faith? Does Jesus say that God purposely hides
tauta ("these things" - i.e., the gospel of salvation) from the wise, while
mysteriously revealing them to the nepioi ("babes")? Or, are there certain
qualities attendant to the "wise" and to "babes" which allow one group to
see and understand the gospel while the other remains blind? Comparing
these words ofJesus with other biblical passages with a similar theme
(cf. Jer. 8:8-9; 9:23-24; Is. 29:14: ICor. 1:18-31; 2:6-8), it appears that the
wise and understanding are the "know-it-alls," the self-sufficient, who
perceive no need for God's grace; whereas, the babes are dependent and
acknowledge their need for God. Gerhard Kittel (TDNT, v. 4, p. 921)
associates the nepioi with the ptochoi, praies, astheneis, mikroi, paidia,
douloi, diakonoi, tapeinoi - (poor, meek, weak, little ones, children,
slaves, servants, humble). These people Kittel says, "whom the world does
not notice - children, the lowly, the disciples and the masses - bear
witness to Jesus. They acknowledge Him to the praise and glory of God
(Phil. 2:11). Flesh and blood did not reveal this to them, any more than to
Peter (Mt. 16:17), but God himself. To them is given understanding of the
mysteria (Mt. 13:11), tes basileias ton ouranon." (ibid.) "Because God so
wills it, because it corresponds to the nature of revelation, Jesus has not
garbed Himself in power, wealth, and wisdom. He is poor, mean and lowly,
and He comes to those who are themselves nepioi." (ibid.) Perhaps
intelligence does not preclude understanding that life is a gift, a
revelation, God's apocalypse for now.
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
A preliminary decision is choosing which part of the text to focus
upon for preaching. Matthew 11:25-26 deal with the issue of
self-sufficient wisdom versus the dependent innocence of babes,
sophistication versus simplicity (cf. Mt. 21:16; Ps. 8:2). But lest we make
of this a "head-trip," let us remember that Matthew (Jesus, as well?) is
associating "babes" with those "who labor and are heavy laden." Albert
Barnes hears these words addressed to "the poor, the ignorant, and the
obscure; the teachable, the simple, the humble" (NOTES ON THE NEW
TESTAMENT, p. 123). Let's keep our thinking within the "theology of the
cross." Jesus prays to God, not for the impressively successful, not for
those wise in the ways of the world, who know how to "turn a buck" and
make someone else's loss their gain; but he prays for cross-carriers, for
those yoked with burdens, beaten by belligerent and bellicose brigadiers.
This is not self-congratulation time because we are God's beloved "babes."
It is appropriate that humble people of the Nicaraguan village called
Papaturro hear these words applying especially to them in their time and
place (Cardenal, pp. 9-16).
Another issue, which ties the first part with the second (vs.
27), is the issue of revelation. Is Jesus suggesting that the wisdom of
Jewish law and learning may be a hindrance, a stumbling-block, to
receiving God's revelation? Can our attachment to the ways of religion
darken and obscure the clear light of Christ, prohibiting us from perceiving
God's epiphany? Receiving God's revelation involves us in revolution,
repentance and transformation. Contemplate what happened to Peter after
The mystery of revelation directs us to the "revealed-One." We
move from the theme of revelation to relationship. Vs. 27 is spoken of as
"a synoptic thunderbolt from the Johannine sky" (Fuller, p. 222; cf. also
McKenzie, JBC 43:77). Unlike Jeremias (THE PRAYERS OF JESUS, p. 50),
who says that huios and pater are to be understood generically, I side with
those who hear Jesus speaking specifically of his own unique relationship
as Son of the Heavenly Father. So, certainly we are "wise" to confer with
John 1:18; 3:35; 5:19-27; 13:3; 17:1-5, but we need not conclude that St.
John has an "exclusive," a copyright or patent, on Father-Son language and
the vested authority of the Son. This theology is evident elsewhere (cf. Mt.
28:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:27), and has its roots in the Father-Son language of
the Old Testament, used analogously as a metaphor of God's relationship
with the children of Abraham (cf. Ps. 2:7; Hosea 11:1ff). But the
authoritative Sonship claim of Jesus goes beyond analogy and metaphor.
Jesus is THE Babe and THE revelation, contradicting the pious Jewish
claim that all revelation of God is in the Torah.
This may be an occasion to preach "relational" theology. God's
revelation is not merely factual, but personal (Carson, EBC, v. 8, p. 277).
Knowledge of the Father and Son, the knowledge of faith, is fundamentally
relational. The truth of the Christian faith is not more fact, but is
TROTH--God's promised fidelity proved true in Jesus. God's relationship
with us poor babes is proved true in his Son. In response we are true to
this divine relationship.
The third part, the invitation to the weary, vv. 28-30, is
particularly tempting for preaching. Beware of focusing exclusively on
v.28, lest the vessel (cf. Betz, p. 10) remain empty of meaning or the
content with which we fill it is unrelated to the context of Christ and
text. Even a fine sermon, such as "The Shadow And The Promise" by George
Hunsinger (SOJOURNERS, Oct. 1978, pp. 25-26), suffers this problem.
Beware of narrowly-focused, doctrinal spectacles, such as those worn by
Samuel Bacchiocchi, a Seventh-Day Adventist, who argues that the "rest"
referred to by Jesus is the messianic sabbath, a symbol of the messianic
age. Yet, his comments can help to expand the meaning of the text, rather
than restrict the meaning as he does. Beware of making the words overly
pious and sweetly religious, so that they become a passive, "comfortable
word" as in Cranmer's 1549 Prayer Book, or an invitation to sacramental
devotion as used by Zwingli in the communion context (Stanton,
EXPOSITORY TIMES). Yes, this is an invitation by the Savior to the Savior;
and yes, they are gentle words of assurance, but they are also paradoxical
words, speaking of the costly nature of discipleship. The yoke is easy, but
it is a yoke. The burden is light, but it is a burden.
Some of us naturally picture the Thorvaldsen statue of Jesus which
stands in the altar are of Our Lady's (vor Frue Kirke) in Copenhagen, the
very one which inspired Soren Kierkegaard with the inscribed words,
"Kommer til meg." (cf. S.K., TRAINING IN CHRISTIANITY). In concord with S.
Kierkegaard and in line with Lutheran theology, let us underscore the
paradoxical nature of this invitation. The Invitation is also an Imperative,
and it is filled with Ironic contrast. The irony is part of the relationship,
for this IS a relationship to which we are invited. The yoke is made for
two. You and I become yoke-fellows with Christ. This is "for better for
worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to
cherish, till death parts us." Except death won't part us from Christ.
The yoke of Christ is more than the yoke of the law (cf. Acts 15:10;
Mt. 12:1-14; 23:4). This is not a contrast between the Yoke of the Torah
(Law) and the Yoke of the Gospel (Grace), anymore than it is a contrast
between legalism and antinomianism, or harshness vs. humaneness.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law and the prophets (Mt. 5:17-48; Jer.
31:33; Ez. 36:26; 1 Jn. 5:3-4); neither does he come to crush us with a yoke
of slavery (Is. 42:2-4; 53:2-5; Mt. 8:17). Jesus bears the burden--the
burden of the law, of sin and guilt, of poverty, hunger, oppression and
injustice. Jesus joins the meek and humble, the gentle and lowly of heart.
"What he enjoins, he gives (de Dietrich, p. 73). Jesus carries the yoke,
"fellowed" with us in our yoke-bearing called discipleship. There is an
"upside-downness" to this yoke-bearing, to the discipline of the disciples'
Allegiance to the reign of God is neither libertinism nor slavery,
but true liberation. To take Jesus' yoke is to accept his Lordship over my
life and follow his Way (cf. Jer. 6:16). This is the Way that begins at
baptism, for all of us "babes," no matter what our age. Thus, the Early
Church used Mt. 11:28-30 in its catechesis as preparation for the
Sacrament of Holy Baptism (Field, p. 33f), sometimes in association with
Isaiah 55: 1ff. And those early Christians understood that taking the yoke
of Jesus means learning Jesus' way of life. This is the Way of salt and
light (Mt. 5:13-16), and by this Way are all yoked-people blessed (Mt.
5:1-12). Our yoke is the stole of servanthood, given us in the ordination of
our baptism, by the Suffering Servant himself.
4. REFERENCES: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
BACCHIOCCHI, SAMUELE. "Mt. 11:28-30 --Jesus' Rest and the Sabbath",
ANDREWS UNIVERSITY SEMINARY STUDIES, Autumn '84, v. 22,
No. 3, pp. 289-316.
Barnes, Albert. NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT: MATTHEW AND MARK,
ed. Robert Frew. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1966.
Betz, Hans Dieter. "The Logion of the Easy Yoke and of Rest," JOURNAL OF
BIBLICAL LITERATURE, v. 86, March 1967, pp. 10-24.
Cardenal, Ernesto. THE GOSPEL IN SOLENTINAME, vol. 2. Maryknoll, NY:
Orbis Books, 1978.
Carson, D.A. EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE COMMENTARY, MATTHEW, vol. 8. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
De Dietrich, Suzanne. LAYMAN'S BIBLE COMMENTARY, vol. 16. Richmond,
VA: John Knox Press, 1961.
Dunn, James D.G. CHRISTOLOGY IN THE MAKING. Philadelphia: Westminster
Field, Anne, O. S. B. FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant
Fuller, Reginald. PREACHING THE NEW LECTIONARY: THE WORD OF GOD FOR
THE CHURCH TODAY. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1971-74.
Jeremias, Joachim, THE PRAYERS OF JESUS. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978.
Kierkegaard, Soren. TRAINING IN CHRISTIANITY. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1967.
Kingsbury, Jack Dean. PROCLAMATION COMMENTARIES: THE NEW
TESTAMENT WITNESSES FOR PREACHING - MATTHEW, ed.
Gerhard Krodel. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.
Kittel, Gerhard. THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, vol. 4,
ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967.
McKenzie, J.L. "The Gospel According to Saint Matthew," THE JEROME
BIBLICAL COMMENTARY, ch. 43, ed. R.E. Brown, J.A. Fitzmeyer
and R.O. Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Stanton, Graham N. "Salvation Proclaimed," EXPOSITORY TIMES, vol. 94,
Oct. '82, pp. 3-8.
Suggs, Jack M. WISDOM, CHRISTOLOGY, AND LAW IN MATTHEW'S GOSPEL.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970.
5. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS: Pentecost 8
I think of the SBH hymn #508, MAKE ME A CAPTIVE, LORD, AND THEN
I SHALL BE FREE, but WIDE OPEN ARE YOUR HANDS (LBW 489), also to the
Leominster tune, would suit well. You might consider planning in advance
and having the congregation learn FORTH IN THY NAME, O LORD, I GO (LBW
505) and/or PRAISE GOD. PRAISE HIM (LBW 529) if they haven't already.
Other possibilities to consider are:
AT THE NAME OF JESUS (LBW 179,HB 435)
COME TO CALVARY'S HOLY MOUNTAIN (LBW 301)
I LAY MY SINS ON JESUS (LBW 305)
LORD JESUS, THINK ON ME (LBW 309, HB 641)
JESUS, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU (LBW 316, HB 642)
HOW SWEET THE NAME OF JESUS SOUNDS (LBW 345,HB 644)
O CHRIST, THE HEALER, WE HAVE COME (LBW 360)
THE CHURCH'S ONE FOUNDATION (LBW 369,HB 525)
DAY BY DAY (HB 654)
O GOD OF MERCY, GOD OF LIGHT (LBW 425)
WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS (LBW 439)
THE LORD'S MY SHEPHERD (LBW 451)
"COME, FOLLOW ME," THE SAVIOR SPAKE (LBW 455)
JESUS, PRICELESS TREASURE (LBW 457 or 458)
I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY (LBW 497)
COME, MY WAY, MY TRUTH, MY LIFE (LBW 513)
JESUS SHALL REIGN (LBW 530)
JOYFUL, JOYFUL WE ADORE THEE (LBW 551)
O LIVING BREAD FROM HEAVEN (LBW 197)
LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOU HAVE PREPARED (LBW 208)
COME, RISEN LORD (LBW 209)
COME, LET US EAT (LBW 214)
IN THE QUIET CONSECRATION (LBW 223)
THIS IS THE SPIRIT'S ENTRY NOW (LBW 195)
Exegete: Glenn C. Petersen is Pastor of Central Lutheran Church in Anchorage Alaska < http://www.centluth.org/ >
6. SEASIDE READING….The Olympics are Coming!
Whether or not you indulge yourself in the old custom of going to the beach ( or Lake Wobegon ) for the summer, you may enjoy taking some time out to read David Halberstam's remarkable 1985 book on rowing, THE AMATEURS (NY: Morrow). This "Story of Four Young Men and Their Quest for an Olympic Gold Medal" tells how four zealous rowers pursued their goal of rowing in the Olympics. It is a kind of parable of discipleship in that it presents in exquisite detail the almost fanatical commitment and rigorous sacrificial training experience by the four rowers as they move stroke by stroke to the book's inevitably decisive moment of truth. Rowing is a punishing, private world and yet one sees in this book on the "martyrdom"
of rowers why the early Christian martyrs were known as "athletos."
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