Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE HUMBLE SAVIOR WILL SAVE ONLY THE HUMBLE SINNER”

Matthew 11.28-30

Though it cannot properly be said that I am preaching a series of sermons on a single topic, this morning’s message from God’s Word does properly follow the foundation laid by the two messages I brought last Sunday. You will remember, if you were here, that the Apostle Paul urged church members to “minister grace to the hearers,” in Ephesians 4.29. The word translated minister is the common Greek word for give, showing to us that when the right words are spoken to others, words that build up in the faith and reflect the truth of God’s good grace in His Son, Jesus Christ, believers are actually instruments useful to God to give grace to those who hear you. Words fitly spoken to unsaved people can be used by God to minister saving grace, while words spoken to believers can be used by God to minister growing and sanctifying grace. The other message I brought from God’s Word concentrated on the factors related to one’s reception of grace, which is to say getting God’s abundant supply of grace that is needed by the lost to be saved and is needed by the saved to grow and prosper in their spiritual lives. James 4.6 and First Peter 5.5 provided parallel statements that declare God resistant to those who are proud and ready to give grace to those who are humble. The proud are unreceptive to the means God has established for providing grace (they won’t listen); while those who are humble are very receptive to the means God uses to give grace.

You who are unconverted should realize by now that the main issue you must deal with is not that of finding the gospel difficult to understand. Quite the contrary. You very much do understand that insofar as coming to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins is concerned, you cannot have Jesus while clinging to your sins. For some of you, you value a relationship more than Jesus Christ. For others of you, you value a sinful practice more than Jesus Christ. In short, you are not truly interested in repenting of your sins because you really do not want those sins forgiven and forsaken. The case with some of you boils down to something very specific that I would like to point out to you today, this persistence in pride. You find yourself pretty sick of most sinful indulgences. You are experienced enough to recognize that favoring a relationship with someone who is more valuable to you than Jesus cannot work out, because that other person is not nearly so lovely as Jesus . . . in reality. As well, you may have tasted the bitter dregs of sinful practices and are on your way to becoming an expert at how unsatisfying sinful practices truly are. The promise of pleasure is one thing, but the performance of the deed is so much less satisfying, and downright destructive. You are not someone so naive that you think a girlfriend or a boyfriend can be profitably worshiped. Perhaps you have also discovered in your own small way that greed and vanity likewise leave a very bad taste. The issue with you, then, is simple to describe. It is pride, which is quite the opposite of humility. Pride, of course, displays itself with stubbornness, with an unwillingness to listen and pay attention, and frequently by missing church altogether. The result is that God resists you and will not give you saving grace.

The text for this morning’s message will shed additional light on the importance of humility in becoming a Christian. I can only hope and pray that you will consciously set aside your pride for long enough to hear what I have to show you this morning. There is little to risk by listening attentively. However there is much to lose by refusing to listen, by making comments of any kind while I am preaching, and by paying any attention whatsoever to someone seeking to distract you while I am preaching. Should someone try to distract you, I would suggest that you turn to that person and quietly but forcefully say, “Stop!” You will be doing yourself and that other person a favor. Matthew 11.28-30 is a passage familiar to most of you, though I will bring out a principle not often focused on by preachers. Please turn there, and stand when you find the passage for the reading of God’s Word:

 28     Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29     Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30     For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 Five observations to make on our way to the featured principle of the passage: First, in verse 28, Jesus says, “Come unto me.” This is not a suggestion. Neither is it a request. The Lord Jesus Christ is directing His audience, and us, to close with Him, to embrace Him. However, He does not urge this upon everyone, but only those who “labour and are heavy laden.” Though some commentators are persuaded that this phrase refers to the general difficulties and pressures of life, I am convinced that it is related to the sinner’s perception of his enslavement to sins.[1] He knows and his greatly disturbed about his guiltiness in the sight of God, his deadness in trespasses and sins. The third observation of importance is the final phrase of verse 28: “and I will give you rest.” The closest Old Testament parallel to this statement is found in Exodus 33.14, where God says to Moses: “and I will give you rest.” “Note that whereas in the OT text it is God, not Moses, who gives rest, in the NT Jesus gives it. Once more, then, Jesus is greater than Moses.”[2] As well, is this not yet another of many indications that Jesus is God, since what God promises He can give Moses Jesus promises He can give other men? The fourth observation of interest to us is concerning the yoke mentioned by Jesus, which He identifies as “my yoke” to distinguish it from all other yokes, much as He distinguished “my church” from all other conceptions of church His listeners might have had.[3] Notice the pictures of two kinds of yokes on the back page of your bulletin, either of which Jesus could conceivably have had in mind to illustrate His teaching. “The literal meaning of zugoV is ‘balance’, ‘pair of scales’ or ‘yoke’ (the wooden frame placed upon the necks of two draft animals, joining them together). The word came to be a metaphor for obedience, subordination, servitude; and Jewish teachers commonly spoke of the yoke of the Torah and the yoke of the commandments. But no Jewish teacher ever told another: Take up my yoke. This, however, is precisely what Jesus does. He is, therefore, playing not only the part of Wisdom but also the part of Torah; or, rather, he is Wisdom, he is Torah. How very significant this is should not be missed. For Judaism ‘torah’ is ‘all that God has made known of his nature, character and purpose, and of what he would have man be and do’; it is the full revelation of God and of his will for man. So the identification of Jesus with Torah makes Jesus the full revelation of God and of his will for man.”[4] He is the living Word, as the Bible is the written Word.[5] The fifth observation is related to verse 29, where the Savior said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The opening directive in verse 28, “Come unto me,” finds its parallel in verse 29 as, “Take my yoke upon you.” The closing promise of verse 28, “and I will give you rest,” finds its parallel in the final phrase of verse 29, “and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” However, the middle phrase of verse 28, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” has no parallel in verse 29. The middle phrase in verse 28 describes sinners troubled by their sins, while the two middle phrases in verse 29 refer to the Savior, with the second phrase, “for I am meek and lowly in heart,” being His description of Himself.

Difficult for the human mind to comprehend, and impossible for the human mind to predict, Jesus Christ is at one and the same time eternal God, eternal Son of God, Creator of all things, God manifest in the flesh, King of kings and Lord of lords, miracle worker and teacher, and Law giver, as well as being Law fulfiller, Lamb of God, and sacrifice for men’s sins, who in this verse describes Himself as “meek and lowly in heart.” Take note that the word lowly in verse 29 translates the same Greek word that is in James 4.6 and First Peter 5.5 translated humble. Look at those two verses for just a moment.

 James 4.6: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

 First Peter 5.5: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

 Not only is it very clear in God’s Word that salvation is by grace and that God resists the proud and only gives grace to the humble, but Jesus, Himself, states that He, too, is humble. Of course, this is mentioned once more by the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 2.8, where he writes about Jesus, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Keeping in mind that I am challenging you to humble yourself just enough to hear what I have to say, and recognizing that there can be nothing wrong with humility since Jesus humbled Himself, let me now bring what we know to a sensible conclusion:

 FACT #1: GOD AND MAN ARE SEPARATED BY NON-MORAL ATTRIBUTES

 What do I mean by this? Bigness, smartness, powerfulness, etc. Consider a little boy whose attention is attracted to an amoeba on a specimen slide under a properly focused microscope. What a huge gulf separates that form of life from the little boy. It is so great a gulf, owing to the character of their respective natures, that no communication (much less communion) can possibly occur between the two forms of life. The boy and the one-celled life form will never be able to understand each other, so great is the size, intelligence, and power gulf that separates them.

As vast is the gulf that separates the little boy from the amoeba is construed to be, it is not infinite. However, the gulf that separates the Creator from any creature is even more vast, so vast as to be properly labeled infinite. One is eternal, the other is time-bound. One is spirit, while the other is so much matter. One is Creator, while the other is created. One is completely without need, while the other is profoundly needy. One is powerful, while the other is weak. One knows all, while the other is noted for his ignorance. What separates the two is astonishing.

Is it not remarkable that science has been elevated to such status in our culture, in light of the fact that the very existence of science is testimony to man’s profound ignorance, his recognition of his ignorance, and his commitment to learning what he does not know. Yet God knows all.

 FACT #2: GOD AND MAN ARE ALSO SEPARATED BY MORAL ATTRIBUTES

 As if the gulf that separated God from man by reason of their vastly different natural versus supernatural attributes was not enough, add to that the moral barrier that came into being when man sinned against the holy God. Adam sinned, was plunged into the depths of spiritual depravity, wickedness, and moral defilement, and his heirs are likewise contaminated by moral filth.

Whatever gulf separated God from man by virtue of their compositional elements (immortality, size, smartness, and power), add to that the tragic reality that man is now sinful and for that reason so much farther removed from the holy God, whose eyes are too pure to behold evil, so that He cannot look upon iniquity.[6] Additionally, God is righteous and just in addition to being holy, with those moral attributes joining His holiness in demanding man’s punishment for sins.

 FACT #3: GOD SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO BECOME A MAN, WITHOUT SIN

 Isaiah 7.14 and 9.6 predict, more than seven centuries before the event, what two gospel accounts verify, that the Second Person of the Triune Godhead left heaven’s glory, was born of a virgin named Mary, and lived among men as a man, though without sin of nature or experience.[7] By becoming a man and living among men, the Lord Jesus Christ bridged the great time, space, matter, power, intelligence and emotions gulf that separates God from men. He graciously condescended to do something infinitely more difficult than would be required for a man to become an amoeba in order to interact with amoebas in a way that amoebas could understand.

In what we call the incarnation, accomplished by means of His virgin birth, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead spanned the physical, intellectual, and emotional distance between God and men, a truly mind-boggling display of power and brilliance. However, there remained the moral issues that separated God from mankind, issues of sin and wickedness that could hardly be ignored by God, a being of such holiness that He cannot look upon iniquity or behold evil.

 FACT #4: JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS, WAS BURIED, AND ROSE AGAIN TO PROVIDE FOR THE SALVATION OF SINNERS

 Imagine God and men so far apart that the distance is infinite, with that distance being both distance in space and time and intellect and emotions as to be impassable. However, when Jesus became a man that space, time, intellectual and emotional gulf was immediately crossed by the God-Man. What remained, however, was the vast moral chasm caused by sin, separating the holy God from sinful men. Even while Jesus sat at the table and ate with sinners, that great gulf separating Him from them remained in place. However, when Jesus took upon Himself the sins of men and offered Himself on the cross of Calvary, He provided the means of bridging that great moral gap that separates God from sinful men. Jesus became sin for us who knew no sin, that He might bring us to God, First Peter 3.18. He, as it were, reached out to us when He became a man, and further reached out to us when He died on the cross and rose again. At present, He is so far away that nothing that we say or do can reach Him, but we are at the same time so close when we humble ourselves that by God’s grace we can lay hold of Him by faith.

Consider the matter in this light, my proud friend. God in Christ has come infinitely farther than meeting sinners half way. He came so very far when He became a man. He came so much farther when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. However, this humble Savior is still completely out of the reach of the proud. That said, He is within the reach of a humble sinner’s faith. Why must the sinner be humble for his faith to reach the great Object of saving faith, Jesus Christ? The sinner must be humble himself for his faith to lay hold of Jesus Christ because He is humble in His heart. The sinner whose heart is not humble is far from Him, He said in Matthew 15.8. However, if the sinner’s heart is humble, God grant you by grace faith that will reach and lay hold of the Savior’s humble heart. No humility of heart, my unsaved friend? No salvation of your soul.

 FACT #5: JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS, WAS BURIED, AND ROSE AGAIN TO PROVIDE FOR THE SALVATION OF SINNERS

 The only barrier that remains to be crossed between a sinner and the Savior is the barrier of your own personal sin and the sins you have committed against God. As Isaiah 59.2 reveals, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” Isaiah 59.3 continues, “For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”

What then is the remedy for such an obstacle as sin? There is only one remedy, the blood of Jesus Christ. It has always been the blood, my friend. In Exodus 12.13, on the night of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, God said, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The Passover was a type of which the blood of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment. Referring to Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul writes Ephesians 1.7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

It is all by grace, in that it is God’s unmerited favor, which He was in no way obligated to provide for sinner’s salvation. However, as beneficial as the shed blood of Jesus Christ happens to be, it does no sinner any good that has not appropriated its benefits by coming to Jesus Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith,” Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2.8.

All of that understood and recognized to be true, let us remember a vital truth this morning. Let us remember that Jesus is meek and lowly in heart, literally meek and humble in His heart. Coupled with what we learned last week, that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble; we are agreed in recognizing that it will be the humble sinner who is saved when he comes to the humble Savior, not the proud sinner.

You cannot have it all. Choices have to be made. You can either have your sin or you can have the Savior, but you cannot consciously cling to both at the same time. I speak not of anything like an attempt at sinless perfection, but of a conscious and discriminating choice to humble yourself as a sinner who cannot save himself (and will not try to save himself), but who bows (in his heart, at least) in humility and lowliness of heart while turning from his sins to the Savior, coming to Him for salvation and the forgiveness of his sins.

Do you want to be saved by Jesus? Do you want to be saved from your sins? Do you not recognize that to this point your way of life has been wrong, your decisions of life have been wrong, your whole life without Christ has been wrong? Forget the play acting. Set aside the pretense. Jettison the pride. Humble yourself and come to the Savior who is humble in His heart and waiting for you to meet Him there.

I close with this example of humility. The Ethiopian eunuch is mentioned in Acts chapter 8. He was a man of power, a man of prestige, a man of great wealth. However, none of this satisfied, so he set out on a journey to Jerusalem to satisfy his soul, to no avail. On his way back home he was approached by a nondescript man named Philip who observed the great man reading God’s Word. “Understandest thou what thou readest?’ Philip asked him, according to Acts 8.30. “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” Thus, we see the great man’s humility. The rest is history. Philip ministered grace to the Ethiopian, he was converted to Jesus Christ and baptized, and the introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia can be traced to that man.

Do what the Ethiopian did. Humbly receive the truth that is spoken in love. Sit down with me and give me opportunity to minister grace to you, to guide you as a humble sinner to the humble Savior.



[1] R. T. France, The Gospel Of Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), page 448.

[2] W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., The International Critical Commentary, “The Gospel According To Saint Matthew,” Vol II, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991), page 287.

[3] Matthew 16.18

[4] Ibid., pages 289-290.

[5] John 1.1-4

[6] Habakkuk 1.13

[7] Matthew 1.18-2.15; Luke 1.26-39; Hebrews 4.15



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org