Sermon for Pentecost 6 July 1, 2018
Text: Matthew 11:25-30 Three Year – Series A 18:2075
Theme: “Here, with Me, Find Your Rest” – Jesus
I think it was not anger. Someone suggested it was frustration. I guess that I would call it “feeling out-of-sorts.”
This past Thursday morning I awoke expecting that Elizabeth and I would be on a plane headed for Arizona within a few hours. We were to visit daughter Sara’s family which the Lord blessed about 4 weeks ago with the birth of a daughter – daughter #2 for them. So, how did that make me feel out-of-sorts?
Well, at I picked up my cell phone to see if I had any messages. Yes, there was one message: “Flight 117 to Mesa, AZ, cancelled.” What? That can’t be! How can you just cancel a commercial airplane flight? The next 3+ hours I spent trying to figure out what happened and what we could do about it. I called the airlines and was put on hold. After a half hour on hold I gave up with that. Meanwhile, I was on the internet trying to figure out what to do. The situation didn’t change. It looked less and less like we were going to AZ. So, I cancelled the other arrangements we had made.
And here we are today. It is supposed to be Chris and Dave (Zion), and Brian and Marty (Peace) leading you in worship, but nope – it’s good old Pastor Lehmann. Oh, that doesn’t bother me a bit. To a pastor another opportunity to proclaim the Gospel is a good thing. But all that other stuff…. I’m not angry. Frustrated? Flustered? – maybe. Out-of-sorts? Weighed down? How many times in how many different ways haven’t you experienced similar feelings? When our lives seem oppressed, burdened, frustrated, it sure is good to hear Jesus say, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I. He invites us to drop our burdens on Him. “Come!” He says. “I will relieve your distress. Here, with me, find your rest.”
What an invitation that is! It is full of promise, authority, and comfort from none other than God Himself for Jesus had just said that the Father had handed all things over to Him. They knew one another on an equal level, and all who recognize Jesus as one with the Father, see His gracious will in all things – no matter what happens. Yet, we so often don’t enjoy such rest because we ignore His invitation to drop our burdens on Him.
Many are the burdens we so foolishly, yes, stubbornly hang on to through life. Sometimes the burdens we carry are physical, sometimes emotional, sometimes spiritual. Sometimes they involve grief, sometimes guilt, sometimes exhaustion, sometimes disappointment, and often turmoil of the soul.
A mother is concerned for the safety of her children: “Who else will watch out for them if I don’t?” As though God can’t protect them! A father agonizes over the financial stability of the household: “How will we make it to the next paycheck and beyond?” As though God can’t provide for our needs! Young people stress over the future: “What will I do when I get out of school?” As though God is not in the future! The responsibilities, the challenges, the uncertainties, all and more soon rise to become burdens that weigh heavily upon our shoulders.
But the greatest burden of all is the consciousness of our sin, our human weakness, our spiritual failures to follow all that the Lord has commanded. And then men lay upon us their own laws and precepts that bind the conscience in ways that God has not intended. All and more can weigh most heavily upon our shoulders. Indeed, we need rest because sin and guilt and the realities of life in a fallen world can so easily oppress us. Even the Apostle Paul felt the burden in the Epistle Lesson today and cried, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rm.7:15ff).
And the answer comes from the Savior who invites: “Here Is Your Rest. Find It in Me! Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
The story is told of an elderly woman riding an elevator from the ground floor to the top of a skyscraper. It was late in the afternoon and she was obviously weary and exhausted from the heat of the day, the packages sagging in her arms. There she stood in the middle of the elevator, the weight of her bundles drooping her shoulders. Looking upon her exhausted condition, a fellow rider on the elevator pityingly said, “Madam, you can put your bundles down now. The elevator will carry them.” Sheepishly, yet with an audible sigh of relief, the woman dropped her bundles to the floor, letting the elevator carry them.
What a picture of the way we often carry our burdens in life, whatever they might be – physical or spiritual. By faith we know that “the eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” He is “our refuge and fortress in whom we trust,” ready at any time to send help through His angels who “will lift us up in their hands” (Dt.33:27; Ps.91:2,12). And yet we so often carry our burdens, neglecting the relief the Savior offers when He invites, “Drop your burdens on me.” “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.”
It is to us burden-bearers that the omnipotent and gracious Son of God gently turns in our text to say, “Here is Your Rest. Come to me. I’m your Savior.”
If He so graciously took away our greatest burden, that of our sin that oppressed us and pushed us from God, if He so graciously took that away and nailed it to the cross (Col.2:13) so that we find reconciliation and peace with God, won’t He also take care of the other burdens and frustrations that plague our lives. Yes! He will! Find Your Rest in Jesus.
So, the next time troubles of any kind beset you, go to Jesus. Drop your burdens on Him. He will relieve you and then send you on your way saying, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
II. He invites us to learn from Him and accept His easy yoke.
You know, Jesus had a special quality that we can learn from Him in this matter of burden bearing: Humility. He taught humility by words, but mostly by what He was. He, the Son of God, equal to the Father, was born in a stable from a poor virgin mother. He, the Creator of the universe, had no place to call His own. He, heaven’s King, rode meekly into Jerusalem on a donkey. He, the Savior of mankind, was crucified and His lifeless body laid in another man’s grave. All of this was humility personified. “Learn from me,” He says, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
Faith in Him as our Savior and Friend, our Burden-bearer and Rest-Giver, enables us to put aside pride and put on humility. We learn it from Him and it enables us to accept an easier yoke in life that He gives.
He may give us rest, but you are not going to be without a burden altogether. Jesus takes the heavy one, but He will give you another in its place, a light burden, one that is actually a privilege.
It is the yoke of the cross which Christians will bear in this world as disciples of Him who first bore a cross for us. There still will be trials and troubles for the disciple is not above his Master (10:24). But Jesus will never let the cross become heavier than one can bear. He will supply the strength needed for each new day, and indeed will pull along with us at our side.
Perhaps the agricultural people of Jesus’ day saw this gospel comfort more clearly than we do for they were more familiar with the concept of a yoke than we are.
As the ancient farmer plowed his field with his oxen, the animals were bound together, side by side, with a heavy, wooden harness. It slipped over their heads and rested on their shoulders. As one of them pulled on the yoke, the other pulled beside him, the burden equally distributed, the work made much easier.
So it is with our Savior. As He invites us to learn from Him and accept His easy yoke, He unites Himself with us. He promises to be right there at our side, yoked to us, pulling with us, yes, even pushing at times. Our troubles will be light compared to the burden He bore for us. What great comfort, hope, and strength He gives.
To know Jesus is to know forgiveness. To know Jesus is to share His fellowship and divine help. Here, with Him, You will Find Rest. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen