Theme: The Universal Call to Discipleship
From this week’s lessons we see that Christ’s call to discipleship is described as a yoke that is both easy and light because Jesus is a kind and gentle Master.
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
In one form or another the knowledge of the human race has been passed through the centuries. But when we think of schools as a place for formal learning we inevitably think back to the days of Greece to that program of study set up by Plato in his Academy in Athens. Plato had studied with his mentor Socrates. But Plato was the first to offer a regular education extending over three or four years in a fixed place. Like Socrates before him, he began by selecting promising pupils from a public playing field, called a gymnasium, on the outskirts of Athens. This field was called the Academy from the name of an athletic hero, Academus. Consequently, Plato’s school became known as the Academy, even though it later relocated to the garden of his house which adjoined the gymnasium.
Plato passed his house on to his successor, Speusippus, and he to his successor. So the Academy in Athens became the first endowed institution of learning. It continued in operation for 900 years. Aristotle, a pupil of Plato for twenty years, set up a school of his own, choosing as his location another public gymnasium known as the Lyceum. It is interesting that from these two Greek institutions numerous countries have derived three important terms for a school.
Germanic nations take their term from the playing field and call their basic school a gymnasium. Frenchmen call their school a lycee, after the Lyceum. English-speaking nations call many of their schools “academies.” It is right to say that the origins of the educational establishment of the western world (and other parts of the world too) can be traced to these Greek schools, and that the many millions currently studying in a great variety of fields are the successors of those pupils.
Ah, yes! But not nearly as many are in the school of Plato as are in the school of Jesus Christ. Jesus founded His school when He told those of His day, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).
The first point in these verses is the one with which the last chapter closed, namely, the invitation to people of all ages, all nations, and all personalities to come to Christ. It is important to emphasize this because we have a tendency, when talking about discipleship, to think that it is somehow much too hard a calling and that the call is therefore only for a special, gifted class of Christians. Few people have trouble with the idea that they must confess their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. They may not do it; but if they decide to, doing so itself does not seem too hard in their opinion.
It is quite different when they see that forsaking sin and cleaving to Jesus in saving faith is no matter of a moment or a mere intellectual assent to certain “religious” propositions. When it is seen that belief also involves recognition of Christ’s lordship over life and a commitment to Him that is to persist through whatever hardships life may bring—to the very end of life, to death, and then through death to glory—when that is perceived, discipleship suddenly seems quite weighty and the calling hard.
But it is precisely at this point that the universal offer must be stressed, as Jesus did. Following Christ is, in a certain sense, the hardest thing anyone can ever do. But at the same time, it is possible for everyone, because Christ provides His disciples with the will to persist in their calling. He indicates the broad scope of the offer when He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…” (v. 28).
From the lesson, what is the first point made about Matthew 11:28-30?
Why is this point important? What are the different ways people think salvation is obtained?
Application: Memorize Matthew 11:28-30. Reflect on it as you face situations this week that may tempt you to think that following Christ is too hard.