Thoughts from J C Ryle

This Sunday we are encouraged to consider Matthew 11: 16-19,25-30. I shall be quoting from J.C. Ryle’s expository thoughts on Matthew. The book was first published in 1856. I have found his writings easy to follow and always thought provoking.

J. C. Ryle was the first bishop of Liverpool and Wikipedia describes him thus:

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor, and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue-collar community.

Matthew 11:25-30 25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, LORD of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

There are few passages in the four gospels more important than this – There are few which contain in so short a compass, so many precious truths. May God give us an eye to see, and a heart to feel their value.

Let us learn in the first place, the excellence of a childlike and teachable frame of mind. J. C. Ryle goes on to suggest to those to whom the gospel is revealed are generally humble, simple-minded, and willing to learn. He goes on to urge us to watch against pride in every shape – pride of intellect, pride of wealth, pride in our own goodness, pride in our own deserts. Let us pray for and cultivate humility.

Let us learn in the second place from these verses the greatness and the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ. J. C. Ryle suggests that we should draw from these words the great practical truth, that all power over everything that concerns our soul’s interest is placed in our Lord Jesus Christ’s hands.

He bears the keys: to Him we must go for admission into heaven.

He is the door: through Him we must enter

He is the Shepherd: we must hear His voice and follow Him

He is the Physician: we must apply to Him, if we would be healed of the plague of sin

He is the bread of life: we must feed on Him, if we would have our souls satisfied

He is the light: we must walk after Him and not wander in darkness

He is the fountain: we must wash in His blood, if we would be cleansed and made ready for the great day of account.

Blessed and glorious are these truths! If we have Christ, we have all things.

Let us learn in the last place, from this passage the breadth and fullness of the invitations of Christ’s Gospel.

We should mark who they are that Jesus invites. He does not address those who feel themselves righteous and worthy: He addresses ‘all that labour and are heavy laden – it is a wide description. All who feel a load on their heart, of which they would feign get free, a load of sin or a load of sorrow, a load of anxiety or a load of remorse, – all, whosoever they may be, and whatsoever their past lives, – all such are invited to come to Christ.

We should mark what a gracious offer Jesus makes: I will give you rest – Yes you shall find rest to your souls. Unrest is one great characteristic of the world: hurry, vexation, failure, disappointment, stare us in the face on every side. But there is hope: there is an ark of refuge for the weary. There is rest in Christ, rest of conscience, and rest of heart, rest built on pardon of all sin, rest flowing from peace with God.

We should mark what a simple request Jesus makes to us. ‘Come unto me: – take my yoke upon you, learn of me’ He interposes no hard conditions; He speaks nothing of work to be done first: He only asks us to come to Him just as we are, with all our sins, and to submit ourselves like little children to His teaching. ‘Go not,’ He seems to say ‘to man for relief. Wait not for help to arise from any other quarter. Just as you are, this very day, come to me

We should mark what an encouraging account Jesus gives of Himself. He says, ‘I am meek and lowly of heart’ How true that is, the experience of all the saints of God has often proved. It is a saying never to be forgotten.

We should mark lastly, the encouraging account that Jesus gives of His service. He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light’. No doubt there is a cross to be carried, if we follow Christ; no doubt there are trials to be endured, and battles to be fought: but the comforts of the Gospel far outweigh the cross. Compared to the service of the world and sin, compared to the yoke of Jewish ceremonies, and the bondage of human superstition, Christ’s service is in the highest sense easy and light.

J.C. Ryle then finishes by challenges his readers with a ‘solemn inquiry’, Have we accepted this invitation for ourselves? Have we heard Christ’s voice? He closes by saying If we have come to Him already, let us learn to cleave to Him more closely. If we have never come to Him yet, let us begin to come today.

Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out’ John 6:37