The first verse of this chapter sums up beautifully the action from this moment onward to the imminent Passion and Death of Jesus: this is the point of Jesus’s whole mission- “to teach and preach” (v. 1).
We also have a slight interlude with a episode of encounter between Jesus and disciples of John the Baptist (or Baptizer). While the Baptizer’s role is more clearly explained in the Gospel according to Luke, we are given a fairly clear understanding of the interplay between John and Jesus. Remember that John’s main, and really only, mission, was “to prepare the way for the Lord” (v. 10). Both John and Jesus point to the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as the foundational element of their teaching. And while the prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus’s coming, the use of prophecy is the vehicle by which both reveal to the Israelites that the Messiah is coming, and the Jesus is the Messiah.
There is also a brief section on the Jesus’s dismay about those people who can’t seem to accept his message. The use of the word ‘woe’ is pregnant with meaning. In ancient culture, and in the Greek language, ‘woe’ is the word you would use to describe the grief and loss that one experiences with death. It’s telling isn’t it: Jesus expressing woe to the communities who won’t accept his message of Redemption and Repentance.
Finally, the chapter ends with a beautiful prayer of Jesus, thanking his Father and extending an open invitation to those who would hear his message. Jesus’s invitation (vv. 28-30) resounds time and place and is extended to each one of us: “Come to me… and I will give you rest”.
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, you call me simultaneously to be a maturing adult and a childlike person. Sometimes I feel I want to be the ‘master of the universe’ and be in total charge of my life and others. I know I must learn to face the mystery of life and your mystery. For that I need to let go, let be, and let grow. Show me how to do this.” Amen.
-From The Kingdom and the Glory, by Rev. Alfred McBride (OSV, 1992).