At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
- Matthew 11:25-30
In yesterday's reading, Jesus continued speaking to the crowd regarding Himself and John the Baptist. He said, "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children." Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." The "wise and prudent" would be those experts such as the Pharisees who can't "see" nor accept Jesus' message in the signs of His great works performed in their midst. My study bible cites Theophylact as noting that God has hidden the mysteries from the wise of the world not out of malice, but due to their own lack of receptivity: there is a choice to be made between what one already "knows" and judges and the things God pulls us toward to reveal and to open up and expand our understanding. Out of love, therefore, revelation may be withheld from those who would scorn it (7:6), so they don't refuse what would result in an even greater condemnation (see Luke 8:10).
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." My study bible tells us that Jesus' yoke is submission to the Kingdom of God. A yoke can be seen as an image of hardship or burdens and responsibilities imposed, especially by a harsh ruler or king (see 1 Kings 12:1-11, Jeremiah 27:1-15). But in Christ, the yoke is easy, because the power of God works in every person. Moreover, the reward is infinitely than any effort a human being puts forth. Gentle here means literally "meek" (see "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," Matthew 5:5, in the reading of the Beatitudes).
Christ promises rest in learning. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me" is a promise of growth into new things, gifts, mysteries. We don't do this journey alone, and He shares His yoke with us. A yoke gives us an image of two things put together: two oxen pulling a plow under one yoke, for instance. Christ promises that He is with us, and gives us rest in this place where we take on the yoke He offers. All of it seems utterly paradoxical, especially given the typical traditional image of the yoke. And yet, with Christ, this is the life He offers to us. It is those who refuse it who lose out; they are the ones who are "wise and prudent" in Jesus' words, the worldly who seem to know the wisdom of the world, who go out of their way to scorn what He offers. And yet He does choose "babes" to carry His message; the apostles do not come from the classes of those educated in Scripture. What we come to understand is all about acceptance. Do we accept His help, His guidance? Are our minds open to what He offers? Everything seems to come down to two things: humility and the capacity to desire the kind of love He offers. This is a love that invites us in to His world, His Kingdom. It invites us in to learn from Him, to take on the yoke He offers. It's not the yoke of a worldly king, but of one who is "gentle and lowly in heart." It's not a yoke that invites our pity, but one that asks for our capacity for love and learning from Him. It asks us for relationship and emptying, and it will take us to places we never imagined going, to challenges that stretch us out of our own "knowing." It is in this learning and coming to know what He offers that our joy may be full.