The biblical view of man sees all people (except Christ) since Adam and Eve as born corrupt and therefore lacking in a desire to please God. No one is righteous (Rom. 3:9–18). In fact, this corruption exists from the moment of conception (Ps. 51:5), and we are happy to stay dead in sin and blind to the kingdom of heaven apart from God’s grace (John 3:1–8; Rom. 6:17; 9:14–16). What is remarkable about the opposition Jesus faces in Matthew 11 is not that some hate Him (vv. 16–24); rather, it is a miracle that He is embraced at all.
This is one of the many points of today’s passage. In praising the Father for revealing salvation to His people, Christ Himself affirms God’s sovereignty in redemption, which is a truth emphasized throughout Scripture. Only those whom the Father has chosen will place their faith in the Messiah (Rom. 9:1–13).
God has not chosen to save everyone, and Jesus also praises His Father for hiding salvation from those who love their own wisdom (Matt. 11:25–26). Yet as the Westminster Confession of Faith 3.6–7 tells us, God’s choice to leave some in their sin (reprobation) is not identical with His choice to save His people. Our Creator chooses to rescue many from their fallenness, others He passes by without extending His grace, thereby handing them over to perdition. The elect are saved from their deserved wrath; the reprobate are left to sin their way to damnation. John Calvin says, God in “drawing some, and passing by others… alone makes a distinction among men, whose condition by nature is alike.”
Divine election by no means negates our responsibility to extend the Gospel to all people. Immediately after affirming divine election, Jesus calls all the burdened to rest in Him (vv. 27–30), knowing that those chosen for salvation all manifest their election by trusting the Son. Therefore, sinners are not to worry if election might prevent them from coming to Christ, for Jesus will never cast out anyone who leans on Him (John 6:37). Matthew Henry comments, “All those, and those only, are invited to rest in Christ, who are aware of sin as a burden, and groan under it; who are not only convinced of the evil of sin, of their own sin, but are contrite in soul for it; that are really sick of their sins.”
John Calvin writes that Christ does not elect us and redeem us that we may sin freely. Instead, Christians are “raised up by his grace, [that] they may also take his yoke upon them, and that, being free in spirit, they may restrain the licentiousness of their flesh.” We put on the light and easy yoke of Jesus’ commandments when we trust Him, and we move from being slaves to sin to being slaves of Christ. You are His if you trust Jesus and endeavor to serve Him.
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