Matthew 11:16

Our Lord must have watched the children at play in the market-place, and have been grieved when a discontented spirit had been manifested by some of them. He had seen how no effort on the part of their companions could move these obstinate children from their sullen mood. And now he finds the behaviour of the children to be typical of that of their parents. Elder people may learn from children. The unconventional manners of children may reveal something of the character of the age, or something of human nature itself, that is too often hidden under the veneer of mere fashion.

I. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SATISFY THE UNSYMPATHETIC. The disagreeable children can be enticed by no action of their companions. They will not dance to the gay music nor join in the mock mourning. A third method would be equally unsuccessful, because they are not to be pleased. They are sitting; there is always something wrong with children when they sit down for long; the life has gone out of them. Similarly there are people who are dissatisfied with all methods of religious work. Old staid methods are dull and gloomy to them; new and more lively methods are unseemly and irreverent. From the sobriety of the Quakers' meeting to the unrestrained fervour of a Salvation Army meeting they cannot discover any worship to suit them, and they find fault with all ways of conducting Church services. If some one could invent a new style of worshipping God this would be of no use for the discontented people. Their discontent lies deeper. The children had no mind to play; these people have no mind to pray. Therefore we shall not reach them by new methods. They are in a hopeless condition unless we can touch their hearts and lead them into a better state of mind. It is useless to pander to their prejudices. Perhaps at present all we can do is to pray for them.

II. UNSYMPATHETIC PEOPLE MISTAKE AUSTERITY FOR INSANITY. In our Lord's day these people could only explain John the Baptist by saying that he was possessed by the devil. There are men and women to whom the very idea of self-denial is absurd. They have always lived a self-indulgent life, and they cannot understand why anybody in his senses should do otherwise. Such people have not the least conception of the high claims of duty. Moreover, they do not understand the darker sides of life. To them Gethsemane is a perfect enigma.

III. UNSYMPATHETIC PEOPLE MISTAKE SOCIABILITY FOR SELF-INDULGENCE. The very people who say that the austere prophet is mad, when they see Christ, who is not austere, accuse him of laxity of conduct. This is enough to show that their opposition is insincere, or at least that it springs from their own state of mind, and not from any defect in those whom they presume to criticize. It is much to learn that the highest religion is not ascetic, and yet that it is not self-indulgent. The real reason why Jesus ate and drank with all sorts of people was not an indifference to moral distinctions, a hunger for popularity, or a love of ease - all vices utterly foreign to his character. It was just his brotherly love seeking to help and bless everybody. We cannot understand the story of Jesus till we catch his spirit. Then we see that the safest protection against the evil of the world is not ascetic isolation, but a self-forgetting life spent for the good of our fellow-men. - W.F.A.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets.
The Great Teacher on the watch that He might spiritualize what passed before Him; He was probably standing in a Jewish market-place when He uttered these words. The Jews used the pipe at marriages and funerals. This instrument of music, therefore, like our church bells, served alike for the joyful and mournful occasion.

I. THE APPLICATION OF THE PASSAGE TO THE JEWS. There was a marked difference between the ministry of the Baptist and that of our Lord; John presented piety under the form of austerity; Jesus, on the contrary, mingled freely with the people. Thus was brought to bear upon the Jews a great variety moral assault. Both were unheeded. The Baptist had been too repulsive, and now the Redeemer was too conciliating. If they had melancholy music, they wanted lively, and if they had lively they wanted melancholy. They were like sullen children resisting all efforts to interest them.

II. THE APPLICATION OF THE PASSAGE TO OURSELVES. God's dealings with sinners are still mixed.

Boanerges and Barnabas are sent. If the preacher is vehement, then you say that frightening men is not the right way of dealing with them; if he is pathetic, you say there ought not to be an attempt to master the feelings without carrying the judgment. The occurrences of daily life are so many endeavours on the part of the Almighty to win men from unrighteousness. Both prosperity and adversity; men resist the combination.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Our Lord clearly charges upon those to whom He personally preached, that they were childish in their treatment of religion.

I. HOW INCONSISTENT AND CAPRICIOUS ARE MANY OF THE OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY. They assume contradictory forms. Look at some of these objections.

1. "A Divine revelation," say such men, "ought to exhibit a Divine power." Is it reasonable to say that Christianity has no power because its work has not been completely finished in eighteen centuries? Then he does not believe in any superhuman power which rises above the laws of nature. The very man who said the gospel wanted power!

2. You find the same principle in regard to the way in which such men treat the evidence on which Christianity is based. Men do well to look to foundations. They object to evidence of religion in books, and cry for something to affect the moral nature; but if you point him to characters changed by religion he says that he " does not believe in a religion that depends for proof on inward experiences."

3. But nowhere is this determination not to be pleased so apparent as in their judgment of the personal character and conduct of Christians. Fidelity to truth may not please men, but, by God's blessing, it will save them.


1. Variety in experience.

2. In doctrine, too, Christianity admits of variety.

3. In Christian work the religion of Jesus admits of great variety of individual peculiarity.

(Bishop Cheney.)

Have you never attempted the culture of certain plants which " refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely"? Trust to the showers to furnish them sufficient moisture, and suddenly you find their leaves are drooping as if a drought had cursed the soil. Try to refresh them with water, and you find the roots softening with decay, and the leaves incrusting themselves in mildew. Put them out in the open border, where nature manifests her kindest care, and the sun scorches them like the breath of a furnace. Remove them where a friendly shrub offers its shade, and forthwith they spindle up with a pale and ghastly growth, at once worthless and unhealthy. Fit types of many of the objections with which the faith of the Saviour has been met from the beginning!

(Bishop Cheney.)

And above all, in Christian work the religion of Jesus admits of great variety of individual peculiarity. Rising before the dawn you saw the morning star climb slowly up the purple ladder of the eastern sky. It had its work to do. God gave it that work. But no one expects it to light the world and turn darkness into day. That the rising sun must do. Even so widely different was the work of John the Baptist and Jesus the Sun of Righteousness. Both were to work the works of Him who sent them — but in ways utterly unlike.

(Bishop Cheney.)

In the great print-works of the land are men whose only duty is to make new patterns to be impressed upon the white surface of the snowy cotton. The countless combinations of colours which the kaleidoscope presents are reproduced in an infinite variety of designs. The men whose vast wealth is invested in looms and spindles comprehend human nature, and they know that it demands variety. Just in proportion as tyranny has established its supremacy, it has tried to reduce all the race to a single pattern. The idea of beauty which has filled the mind of despots has always been that of the Dutch gardeners, who clipped and pruned trees that nature would have made lovely in luxuriant growth till each one was precisely like every other. How different when our Lord Jesus Christ came to establish His supremacy. Two men could hardly have been more widely different than Jesus of Nazareth and John the Baptist.

(Bishop Cheney.)

If a Christian be reserved in his habits and a lover of retirement, they describe him as narrow and ungenial. If he be frank and accessible, they shake their heads over his worldliness and inordinate love of society. He is never quite right in their eyes. He is too strict or too yielding; too gloomy or too happy; too cautious or too bold; too shrewd or too simple. Let not such judgments of men disconcert or discourage any who with an honest heart endeavour to be true to Christ.

(D. Fraser, D. D.)

There are three great periods in religion.

1. The period of law; in which the motives are hope and fear — hope of reward and fear of punishment.

2. The period of the gospel; in which the motive is simply the love of what is good without regard to personal results.

3. The transition period, which is that of John the Baptist; when there is the light of the gospel, and yet the terror of the law behind it; in which men, though they love God a little, are still afraid of Him.

When a man's conscience is pulling one way, and his heart is pulling him another way, nothing pleases him. If you ask him to do his duty, and tell him what he ought to be, his conscience assents, but he does not like it. If, on the other hand, you make excuses for him, and tell him he is all right, then his feelings are soothed, but his conscience remonstrates, because he knows you are wrong in saying so. Selfishness is thus always ill at ease, and has no inward unity so long as there is any conscience left.

The trouble is in the men themselves, and not in the institutions that surround them. They are like sick children. Whatever the nurse may bring, whether it be of food, or of drink, or of some object of amusement, the child pushes it pettishly away. Nothing suits the child. It is not because the picture is not beautiful; it is not because the drink is not cooling and palatable; it is not because the food is not good; it is because the irritable nerve is such that nothing seems good, no matter how good it may be, and nothing seems desirable, no matter how attractive it may be. And there are hundreds of men in every community who refuse to bow down the pride of their nature, and who refuse to accept the service of Christ, because of the heart that they carry in them, although the reasons which they allege are reasons of exterior religion.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Elias, Elijah, Jesus, John
Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Galilee, Sidon, Sodom, Tyre
Calling, Companions, Compare, Comparison, Comrades, Crying, Fellows, Generation, Liken, Market, Marketplaces, Market-places, Markets, Open, Places, Playmates, Present, Seated, Sitting, Whereunto
1. John sends his disciples to Jesus.
7. Jesus' testimony concerning John.
16. The perverse judgment of the people concerning the Son.
20. Jesus upbraids Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum;
25. and praising his Father's wisdom in revealing the Gospel to the simple,
28. he calls to him those who are weary and burdened.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 11:16

     5694   generation

Matthew 11:11-18

     5098   John the Baptist

Matthew 11:16-17

     5387   leisure, pastimes
     5402   market

Matthew 11:16-19

     5881   immaturity
     8712   denial of Christ

The Friend of Publicans and Sinners
'The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children,'--MATT. xi. 19. Jesus very seldom took notice of His enemies' slanders. 'When He was reviled He reviled not again.' If ever He did, it was for the sake of those whom it harmed to distort His beauty. Thus, here He speaks, without the slightest trace of irritation, of the capricious inconsistency of condemning Himself and John
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sodom, Capernaum, Manchester
'Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not.' --MATT. xi. 20. These words, and the woes which they introduce, are found in another connection in Luke's Gospel. He attaches them to his report of the mission of the seventy disciples. Matthew here introduces them in an order which seems not to depend upon time, but upon identity of subject. It is his method in his Gospel to group together similar events, as we have it exemplified, for instance,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Christ's Strange Thanksgiving
'I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' --MATT. xi. 25. When Jesus was about to cure one dumb man, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and sighed. Sorrow filled His soul in the act of working deliverance. The thought of the depth of the miseries He had come to heal, and of the ocean of them which He was then diminishing but by one poor drop, saddened Him. When Jesus thought of the woes that had
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

John's Doubts of Jesus, and Jesus' Praise of John
'Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3. And said unto Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another? 4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. 7.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Rest Giver
'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.'--MATT. xi. 28, 29. One does not know whether tenderness or majesty is predominant in these wonderful words. A divine penetration into man's true condition, and a divine pity, are expressed in them. Jesus looks with clearsighted compassion into the inmost history of all hearts, and sees the toil and the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Rest for the Weary
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. W hich shall we admire most -- the majesty, or the grace, conspicuous in this invitation? How soon would the greatest earthly monarch be impoverished, and his treasures utterly exhausted, if all, that are poor and miserable, had encouragement to apply freely to him, with a promise of relief, fully answerable to their wants and wishes! But the riches of Christ are unsearchable and inexhaustible. If millions and millions
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Messiah's Easy Yoke
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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. T hough the influence of education and example, may dispose us to acknowledge the Gospel to be a revelation from God; it can only be rightly understood, or duly prized, by those persons who feel themselves in the circumstances of distress, which it is designed to relieve. No Israelite would think of fleeing to a city of refuge (Joshua 20:2.
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Yoke of Christ.
"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; for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."--Matt. xi. 29, 30. These words, which are brought before us in the Gospel of to-day's festival[1], are also found in the address made to us upon Ash Wednesday, in which we are told that if we "return unto Him who is the merciful Receiver of all true penitent sinners, if we will take His easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 2, "Now when John Heard in the Prison the Works of the Christ, He Sent by his Disciples,
1. The lesson of the Holy Gospel has set before us a question touching John the Baptist. May the Lord assist me to resolve it to you, as He hath resolved it to us. John was commended, as ye have heard, by the testimony of Christ, and in such terms commended, as that there had not risen a greater among those who were born of women. But a greater than he had been born of a Virgin. How much greater? Let the herald himself declare, how great the difference is between himself and his Judge, whose herald
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that Thou Didst Hide These Things From
1. When the Holy Gospel was being read, we heard that the Lord Jesus exulted in Spirit, and said, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2252] Thus much to begin [2253] with, we find before we pass on further, if we consider the words of the Lord with due attention, with diligence, and above all with piety, that we ought not invariably to understand when we read of "confession" in
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 25, "I Thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth," Etc.
1. We have heard the Son of God saying, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." What doth he confess to Him? Wherein doth he praise Him? "Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [2288] Who are the "wise and prudent"? Who the "babes"? What hath He hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes? By the "wise and prudent," He signifieth those of whom St. Paul speaks; "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Again on the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto Me, all Ye that Labour and are Heavy Laden, and I Will Give You
1. It seems strange to some, Brethren, when they hear the Lord say, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [2323] And they consider that they who have fearlessly bowed their necks to this yoke, and have with much submission taken this burden upon their shoulders, are tossed about and exercised by so great
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Sinner's Friend
"Savior of sinners they proclaim, Sinners of whom the chief I am." What the invidious Jews said in bitter spleen, has been turned by the Holy Spirit to the most gracious account. Where they poured out vials of hate, odours of sacred incense arise. Troubled consciences have found a sweet balm in the very sound. Jesus, "the friend of publicans and sinners," has proved himself friendly to them, and they have become friends with him; so completely has he justified the very name which his enemies gave
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

Rest, Rest
We will, this morning, if we can, conduct you into the inner chambers of out text, place its words under the microscope, and peer into the recesses of each sentence. We only wish our microscope were of a greater magnifying power, and our ability to expound the text more complete; for there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Holy violence
"But," says one, "do you wish us to understand, that if a man is to be saved he must use violence and vehement earnestness in order to obtain salvation?" I do, most assuredly; that is the doctrine of the text. "But," says one, "I thought it was all the work of God." So it is, from first to last. But when God has begun the work in the soul, the constant effect of God's work in us is to set us working; and where God's Spirit is really striving with us, we shall begin to strive too. This is just a test
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

The Meek and Lowly One
I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST CLAIMS. He declares that he is "MEEK." Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise to himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak of him in several ways. 1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit manifested by zealots and bigots. Take,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

Powerful Persuasives
I HAVE preached to you, dear friends, several times from the words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is such sweetness in the precept, such solace in the promise, that I could fain hope to preach from it many times more. But I have no intention just now to repeat what I have said in any former discourse, or to follow the same vein of thought that we have previously explored. This kindly and gracious invitation needs only to be held up in different
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
(From the Gospel for St. Matthias'-day, 24th February) Of the proper marks of true humility. Matt. xi. 29.--"Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." CHRIST, our blessed Lord, the true master and teacher of all art and virtue, and a pattern of all perfection, when He came down from Heaven to instruct us poor ignorant men, did not see fit to make use of great subtleties, or mysterious and ingenious statements of truth; but in short, plain, simple words He delivered to us a maxim, and gave us
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent
(From the Gospel for the day) How that we must wholly come out from ourselves, that we may go into the wilderness and behold God. Matt. xi. 7.--"What went ye out into the wilderness for to see?" OUR Lord Jesus Christ said unto the Jews, "What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" In these words let us consider three things: First, the going out; secondly, the wilderness; thirdly, what we are to see there. First, let us consider the going out. This blessed going
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Sixth Day. Thankfulness.
"I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."--Matt. xi. 25. A thankful spirit pervaded the entire life of Jesus, and surrounded with a heavenly halo His otherwise darkened path. In moments we least expect to find it, this beauteous ray breaks through the gloom. In instituting the memorial of His death, He "gave thanks!" Even in crossing the Kedron to Gethsemane, "He sang an hymn!" We know in seasons of deep sorrow and trial that every thing wears a gloomy aspect. Dumb Nature herself to
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Fifth Day. Meekness.
"I am meek and lowly in heart."--Matt. xi. 29. There is often a beautiful blending of majesty and humility, magnanimity and lowliness, in great minds. The mightiest and holiest of all Beings that ever trod our world was the meekest of all. The Ancient of Days was as the "infant of days." He who had listened to nothing but angel-melodies from all eternity, found, while on earth, melody in the lispings of an infant's voice, or in an outcast's tears! No wonder an innocent lamb was His emblem, or
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

"I Will Give You Rest. "
A COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE. "I will give you rest."--Matthew xi. 28. "I WILL GIVE YOU REST." WE have a thousand times considered these words as an encouragement to the labouring and the laden; and we may, therefore, have failed to read them as a promise to ourselves. But, beloved friends, we have come to Jesus, and therefore He stands engaged to fufil this priceless pledge to us. We may now enjoy the promise; for we have obeyed the precept. The faithful and true Witness, whose word is truth,
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion the Voice of Christ
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,(1) saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2) Take, eat: this is My Body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.(4) (1) Matthew xi. 28 (2) John vi. 51. (3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. (4) John vi.
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

The Baptist's Inquiry and Jesus' Discourse Suggested Thereby.
(Galilee.) ^A Matt. XI. 2-30; ^C Luke VII. 18-35. ^c 18 And the disciples of John told him of all these things. ^a 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent by his disciples ^c 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them unto the Lord [John had been cast into prison about December, a.d. 27, and it was now after the Passover, possibly in May or June, a.d. 28. Herod Antipas had cast John into prison because John had reproved him for taking his brother's wife.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

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