I hope you are able to keep up with the readings. We find once again some gems in this chapter. If you look specifically at vs. 28-30 you will hear words that are familiar. Jesus promises us that he will give us rest. Okay, maybe not us, but all those who are carrying heavy burdens are promised rest. Is that you? The yoke that Jesus has is one that is light compared to the one that we have. The yoke that we have is one that is burdened with sin, it is burdened with the heaviness of misplaced words and hurtful deeds. By taking on the yoke of Jesus we are able to learn from him, for he is gentle and he is humble. This learning will lead to an opportunity for us to find rest for our souls.
While these ending verses are comforting we can’t skip over the verses that are little less than comforting. Jesus gets a message from John the Baptist where his cousin asks him: “Are you the man?” Again, Jesus doesn’t answer with the traditional yes or no answer, he tells the messenger to go back to John and tell him what you see. It is that simple. I don’t need my words to back me up, just look at my actions. What a great message for all of us. We should not use our words to justify our actions, but rather our actions to justify our actions.
He then describes who exactly John the Baptist is. This is helpful for us if we didn’t have a real clear picture on who John the Baptist is. To begin we have to clarify that John the Baptist is not the same John who wrote the Gospel. I know, this is information that you already know. But I still get that question frequently. John the Baptist was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth as we see in Luke 1, and Elizabeth is a relative of Mary…which makes John the Baptist and Jesus related. We aren’t there yet, but we will be in a few weeks. John the Baptist is the one who is baptizing those who are repenting as they come to the Jordan river to see him.
Jesus calls John the Baptist: “He is Elijah who is to come.” Okay, what does that mean? If you want to find out more about Elijah you can find him in I Kings 17 and following. He was a prophet of the Lord who was often speaking about the coming of the Lord, and did hand to hand combat with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. It is a great story found in I Kings 18 and it is a popular sight to visit whenever you go to Israel. But what Jesus is referring to is a quote in Malachi which states: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Before the coming of the Lord, which would be Jesus, Almighty God was going to send a prophet to prepare the way of the Lord. That was John the Baptist. Jesus identifies him as such and it gives us a great understanding as to how God continues to be providentially in control of all history, all people, and all time.
Jesus’ control over our lives needs to be reflected in our understanding of God’s providence in all of history. Our burdens can be lessened to degrees we can’t even understand if we would only lay them on our loving Lord. God’s control of history provides us with the relief and the assurance that we are not in charge. Praise be to God!