Matthew 11:28 - 30
We are glad to share with you this evening. Thanks for letting us be a part of your life. We love to talk about Jesus because He has done so much for us. As we share with you today, we trust that the songs we sing together and the words we share with you will be a blessing and an encouragement for you.
I. Heavy Burdens
My wife and I lived in The Pas for a number of years. When we were there, we sometimes attended the Trapper’s Festival. There were a lot of interesting events that took place. We enjoyed the dog sled racing, the chain saw contests and other interesting events related to the King Trapper competition. One of the events that we sometimes watched was the flour packing contest. If you have seen it, you know that they have a special back pack which fits over your shoulders and a tump line that goes on your forehead. They adjust the pack to fit your body and then they begin to pile on the flour. They begin with lighter loads and the contestants have to walk a certain distance and then they help them take off the pack and another person tries. Each round, they add more flour and it gets heavier and pretty soon they are not walking from one point to the other, they are staggering, barely able to keep standing. At last years festival, the winner was able to carry 900 pounds of flour on his back. I can hardly imagine that. Such a burden is hard to carry. You can’t carry it very far and each step must be painful. Your whole self is weighed down and focussed on the burden.
Although few of us have probably carried heavy sacks of flour, many of us do carry heavy burdens around. The burdens we carry can have just as much of an impact on our lives as the burden of 900 pounds of flour. These burdens we carry impact our whole person. We stagger around in life, hardly able to make it because of them.
Most of us carry the burden of sins that we can’t stop doing. We know that certain things are wrong, but we keep doing them. We become angry with others, we hate people, we lash out at people, we think impure thoughts, there are so many sins which have a great power over our life. We know that they are wrong, we know that they hurt us and others and we know that they displease God. They are a heavy burden in our life.
Many of us carry the burden of addictions. We have habits like drinking or gambling or something else that are a very powerful form of sin. They have a strong influence over our lives so that we are no longer in control. We know that these habits are destroying us and yet it seems that we can do nothing about them. They are a heavy burden.
Many of us also have a sense of the things which are good and right and which God wants us to do, but we can’t seem to do them. We try desperately to please God and we set up all kinds of rules in our life and believe that if we can only keep all these rules, we will be OK. Yet, we fail to be perfect in our rule keeping and so soon are burdened down with the awful feeling of failure. This is the burden of legalism and failure.
If we have any of these burdens, we will also carry another burden and that is the burden of guilt. We know what God thinks of us and it isn’t good, but because we keep on falling into these sins and addictions, we keep ourselves under the feeling that God is angry with us. No matter what our sin is and all of us have some sin, if we continue in it, we will have a sense of guilt and that guilt is a terrible burden.
Some of us may have the burden of unforgiveness. At some time, someone has hurt us deeply. The thing this other person has done to us was so bad and so wrong that we know it deserves punishment, so we punish the other person by holding a grudge against them and hating them. But the anger in our hearts against the other person soon begins to take over our hearts and we are consumed with unforgiveness and bitterness and this too becomes a terrible burden.
For others, the burden is a burden of looking for God and not knowing where to find Him. It is a sense that there is someone who is above all and the maker of all, but after looking in all kinds of religion and religious practices, we still do not seem to be able to find Him. This can be a terrible burden.
How many burdens can people carry? Some people carry several of these burdens and their life is miserable. They feel like the person who is carrying 900 pounds of flour. They stagger about in life with the weight of the world on their shoulders. What kind of burdens do you carry?
II. A Load Lifted
Several years ago, my wife and I, our son and his wife and our daughter, five of us, went on a canoe trip. We had two canoes. One was a 90 pound fibreglass canoe - quite heavy - and the other was a lighter canoe. We paddled across a lake and spent the first night. The next morning, we paddled a little way and then had to do a portage that was about a mile long. Since it was that long, we decided that we would try to do it all in one trip. We each took our backpack, our daughter took the extra bags, my son and I took the heavy canoe and my wife and our daughter-in-law took the lighter canoe. My son and I went at the end, but the girls just could not keep a very strong pace and they were having trouble carrying the canoe because my wife is a fair bit taller than our daughter-in-law. So we decided that my son and I would go ahead and get to the other side as fast as we could. My wife would take the canoe all by herself and do the best she could. That is what she did. When she got tired, the other two took the canoe off and gave her a rest. In the mean time, my son and I went as quickly as we could to the other side, dropped our canoe and our packs and then came back to help. When we got back to where they were and my son and I took the canoe, my wife was so glad to get rid of her burden. When she got to the end of the portage, she could drop her pack and that was even better. What a relief to be able to shed the heavy burden after having carried it for a mile.
When we think of the burdens in our life, wouldn’t it be great to be able to shed our burdens? I can just sense what it felt like for my wife to take the burden of the canoe and her back pack off her shoulders! In a similar way, we long to drop the burdens of sin, addictions, legalism, guilt, unforgiveness and searching for God.
There is a wonderful promise in the Bible. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, 29, “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.”
All of us have probably received invitations at some time. Perhaps it was an invitation to a birthday party when we were children, or an invitation to the wedding of a friend or relative. This verse is an invitation. Jesus, the Lord of all, is inviting us to come to Him.
The invitation is addressed to all those who are weary and burdened. It is not addressed to those who are self sufficient, not to those who think they have it all together and not to those who are strong in themselves. The invitation is given to those who are tired, those who know that they have a burden and those who are staggering under a heavy weight. If you are tired and don’t know where to go for rest, then this verse is for you.
The invitation, to those who are tired, makes a promise. It promises rest. Two times in these two verses, Jesus promises rest. In verse 28 he says, “I will give you rest,’ and in verse 29 he says, “you will find rest for your souls.” How does Jesus give rest to those who are burdened?
Jesus first of all removes the burden of our guilt. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus came to earth in order to die on the cross. When he hung on the cross, he was not being punished for anything he did wrong. He was punished for what you and I did wrong. Since Jesus has already been punished, we do not need to be punished any more. He has taken our punishment and so if we accept Jesus into our lives He forgives our sins and we are not guilty of them any more.
Jesus removes the burden of legalism and failure because He has already been perfectly obedient to the Father and we are made acceptable to God not because of anything we do but because He died for our sin. Therefore, we can stop trying to be good enough for God and we can rest in the promise that we are accepted in Jesus. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Jesus removes the burden of sin and addictions. When we receive Him as the one who saves us, he puts a new heart into us by giving us His Spirit to live within us. Romans 8:11 tells us, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he…will also give life to your mortal bodies.” By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can walk along a road that will lead us ever more to victory in obedience and will help us shed the life of sin and its destruction.
Jesus also helps us remove the burden of unforgiveness by giving us the basis on which we can forgive others. When we realize that we have been forgiven by God, we will have the ability to forgive others because we will realize that we have been forgiven much more than anyone could ever do against us.
Jesus also removes the burden of seeking God, for in Jesus, we find God and discover that He loves us and wants the best for us and will help us.
When I worked on construction, there were always some who insisted on carrying more than they needed to. Normally two people would carry two or three cement forms into place. These guys would carry two or three by themselves and would insist that they could do it alone. They were like the child who says, "I can do it myself." What kind of a person are you? Are you self reliant and unwilling to get help or are you aware of your burdens, tired and ready to get rid of your burdens?
What a blessing these verses are. They speak to a longing that is deep in our heart. They make a promise that we desperately need to hear. If you are loaded down. If you feel as if you are carrying a load that is just too much for you, I invite you to receive the invitation of Jesus. Will you respond to the invitation of Jesus to find the rest for your souls that is promised by the one who loves you very much?
-“Discipleship is thereby kept from being a legalistic striving and is instead a joyous fellowship.”
Context - legalism and rejection
Yoke = entering into submission.
Fitted to the ox so that it would fit well.
When our children were younger, it was a very important thing to be invited to a birthday party. Often the invitation would come on a little card and then the mothers would telephone to make sure of the details which were not always clear from the cards the children had written out. I remember one invitation which one of our children received which was unclear as to the time of the event. So we had to make it clear. It was a very important event and the children looked forward to it.
I received an invitation to attend a meeting on the International Year of the Family. A letter came in the mail inviting me. The Manitoba committee of the Year of the Family had sent the invitation. The day before the meeting, I received a call reminding me of the meeting.
I remember one year when Joel's class received an invitation to attend a parade in Brandon to see the Queen. That was a very exciting invitation.
Some invitations are not all that exciting, but some are very exciting because they invite us to events which we desire to attend, or else, they are made by people whom we consider special and we are honored to be included. It makes us feel good that someone else thinks about us.
We have been studying Jesus from the gospel of Matthew. In this gospel, we have record of the miracles of Jesus which demonstrates the power of Jesus. We were encouraged that Jesus' power is available to his followers. We have also studied some of the teachings of Jesus and have noted some of the things which God expects his followers to do and how he wants them to live. But it is wonderful to note that the gospel messages is very personally addressed and invites a response from all who hear it. We also want to examine some of the invitations which Jesus makes in the gospel. Invitations to respond to his message, but more importantly to him. This week and next week, we will look at the invitations of Jesus. Our text today is from Matthew 11:25-30. Let us read the invitation Jesus makes to us here and then think about that invitation.
I.Who Makes The Invitation?
One of the questions we might ask when we receive an invitation in the mail is, "who is it from." Sometimes we receive very personal invitations to return our letter in order to receive a million dollars. When we realize that it is from Reader's Digest and that everyone in Canada received such a personal invitation, we don't take it very seriously.
If we receive an invitation from someone we really like, we are happy that they have thought of us and included us in their plans. If we would ever receive a special personal invitation from some very highly regarded individual, we would be quite honored and very excited to receive such an invitation.
So who is making the invitation we read about in this gospel?
The answer to that question is found in verse 27.
The invitation comes from the Father and comes to us through the Son.
In the days of kings and queens, the invitation would never be given directly by the monarch, but would most often be given by a messenger of the monarch. The more important the message, the higher would be the rank of the messenger.
It is the God of the universe who has sent a message through his very own Son. This is an invitation we need to take very seriously for it is God who wants us to come to him.
We read that the Son knows the Father and the Father knows the son.
As we read this, we must remember that Jesus was at this time on earth. He looked like all the other people to whom he spoke. The Bible says there was nothing special about the way he looked that peole should be especially attracted to him. This fooled some people and they did not realize who it was who was giving this invitation to them. When we think about who Jesus was, we realize, that he is none other than God himself and it is with this divine authority that he makes this invitation.
Jesus is the creator of the world. In John 1:3 we read, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Jesus is the one who sustains all things by his power. We read in John 5:17, "Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."
Jesus is the one who has all power. He tells his disciples in Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
When we read in Colossians 2:9, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form," we realize that the invitation comes from God through Christ who is God.
What this verse tells us is that anyone the Son invites is welcome-invitation comes from one mind because Jesus is the earthly agent of the Father's work.
God wants us to come to him.
II.To Whom Is It Made?
Most of the wedding invitations we receive are addressed to Carla and me. This summer when we received several wedding invitations which included our children, they were quite excited. An invitation always has a specific person in mind. To whom is this invitation made?
We read in verse 25,26 that the invitation is not made to the wise and learned. Now when we read this statement, we need to remember the context in which this invitation was made. In the verses of this chapter which preceed this invitation, we read about some rejections of Jesus. We read in verses 18-19 of the rejection of the people of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. Then in the verse which follow, Jesus condemns those cities which had miracles performed in them, but which never really realized what was happening and so did no respond to the message of Jesus. We can also think about the response of the educated leadership-the Scribes and Pharisees. It is with these rejections in mind that Jesus is saying these things. This invitation is not for those who think that they know everything and who think that they are spiritually qualified to answer all questions.
Paul the apostle was one of those who was religiously qualified. He says in one place about himself, "as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." Philippians 3:6. But he realizes that that righteousness is useless when it comes to God for later on in the same passage he expresses his desire to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ." PHilippians 3:9.
There are many on this earth who due to their goodness, their apparant righteousness, their religious qualifications think that they are special to God. Jesus says that the invitation which he makes here is not for those people.
For whom is the invitation made then? What does the Bible say? The invitation is for "little children," for "all who are weary and burdened."
"It is not cleverness which shuts out; it is pride. It is not stupidity which admits, it is humility."
Jesus is inviting the child to respond to his invitation. There are different words for child in Greek. The word in this place puts emphasis on the idea of helplessness. It refers to the young child who is unskilled or who is dependent on his or her parents. The emphasis is on the child as the one who needs help. Thus what Jesus is saying is that the invitation comes to all who need help, who cannot manage on their own.
It is also made to those who are weary, those who are tired of toil. The word here refers to those who having labored with effort and in the head of the day are exhausted.
It is also made to those who are carrying a burden to heavy to bear. The word means to place a burden upon, load a ship.
This invitation is made to those who find themselves at the end of week, exhausted from the weeks work. The invitation is made to Saturday people.
But of course, it is not speaking primarily of physical exhaustion, but rather of spiritual exhaustion. It is written first of all in the context of the legalistic righteousness of the Pharisees. They were noted for creating terrible burdens for people. In Matthew 23:4, Jesus said about these Pharisees, "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." For the religious orthodox Jew, religion was a thing of burdens.
burdensome demands of the law cf. Barclay P.18
Jesus was inviting all those who were tired of carrying heavy burdens in seeking his righteousness to come to him.
But many of us also carry burdens which are too heavy for us. What are the burden we carry?
Some of us carry the same burden as the Jews, we carry the burden of trying to be good enough to be accepted by God. If we are really tired of trying to measure up to God's standards, then this invitation is for us. Many of us carry the burden of trying to be accepted by God. If we are tired of carrying the burden of being accepted, then this invitation is for us. Some of us carry the burden of trying to do everything just right and being perfect in every way. If we are tired of carrhing this burden, then this invitation is for us. Some of us carry burdens of worry, or doubt, or disillusionment or sin that will not go away or feeling inferior.
As long as we think that we are adequate to carry the burdens we carry by ourselves, the invitation is not for us. But at the point at which we are ready to lay down the burdens too heavy for us, Jesus is making this invitation to us.
When I worked on construction, there were always some who insisted on carrying more than they needed to. Normally two people would carry two or three cement forms into place. These guys would carry two or three by themselves and would insist that they could do it alone. They were like the child who says, "I can do it myself." What kind of a person are you? Are you self reliant and unwilling to get help when you need it? Are you carrying your burdens, or are you tired and ready to get rid of your burdens.
It is the joy of the father to invite all those who are tired to drop their burdens. The invitation comes to the needy, not the self reliant; to the weak, not the powerful and to the trusting, not the skeptical.
III.What Is The Invitation
To those who are tired and ready to give up, Jesus makes this invitation. What kind of invitation is it?
It is an invitation to rest.
When it is Saturday and you have been running your combine all week long till late at night, the words "Sunday afternoon nap" have a wonderful ring to them.
When you have been going steady for several months and have had little time for yourself the words "a week of vacation" have a wonderful sound.
When you have been driving for 16 hours, two days in a row, the words, "we're home!" sound so good.
Rest is the promise of God for those who are tired.
Sometimes, we think that rest is only for those who are lazy. A person who rests is not producing, but that is the wrong idea about rest. Rest is God's idea.
How many opportunites for rest did God give in the Old Testament? There was the Sabbath rest, the rest of other feast days. "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts." Leviticus 23:24.There was the rest of the Jubilee year. God repeatedly invites those who are tired to rest.
But of course, he is speaking much more in this invitation of spiritual rest.
Even in the Old Testament we find that it is in God that we have rest. We read in Psalm 62:1, "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." This is the invitation which is extended here again.
It is first of all an invitation to stop striving for acceptance with God and for release from the burden of having to try to be good enough for God. Jesus invites us to receive the rest of being accepted by him because his death and resurrection have made us worthy to receive rest from him.
But I believe this invitation is also given to those who are believers. For many of us as believers continue to carry the burdens of trying to be accepted by God and trying to make it on our own. Jesus is inviting us to come to him and receive from him rest. The promise is a promise of acceptance, a promise that we do not have to carry the guilt of our sin, the promise that we do not have to doubt our acceptance with him. If you are tired in your Christian life, perhaps it is because you are trying to carry a load which Jesus never wanted you to carry. He invites us to drop our burdens and find rest in him. The rest he promises means freedom from guilt, the joy of acceptance, finding our adequacy in Christ. We are invited to begin now the life which will end in eternal rest which is promised in Revelation 14:13, "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
But sometimes rest does not appear all that attractive. The negatives of rest for some are boredom and lack of meaningful activity. Is it to that kind of a rest that God is inviting us?
We read in the rest of the passage what seems like a contradiction. Rest does not mean inactivity or boredome. Jesus invites us to an active rest for he invites us to activity. We read, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me."
How can Jesus offer rest and then invite us to put on a yoke? A yoke speaks of work, it speaks of submission to a master. That is precisely what he is inviting us to do. He is inviting us to submit to his authority, to his teaching.
There is a legend about Jesus when he was a carpenter. It is said that one of the items built in the carpenter shop were yokes. The legend says that Jesus was an expert at making well fiting yokes, Yokes that were tailor made to the ox and which did not gall the ox, but were comfortable to wear. Some even suggest that he might have had a sign on his carpenter shop which said, "my yokes fit well."
What Jesus is saying when he invites us to take up his easy yoke is that the burdens of discipleship and obedience which he places upon us will be individually tailor made to fit us.
I have done some backpacking and I know what a difference a well fitting backpack makes. One that has narrow straps, or does not sit well on shoulders and hips distributing the weight is not comfortable and can not be carried very far. You want a very light load in such a pack. If, on the other hand, you have a pack which fits well and suits you and is well made, you can carry a heavy load quite comfortably.
Jesus invites us to take upon ourselves the load of being his disciples. He promises us that it will not be too much to carry.
Why then do we so often find it difficult to carry? Perhaps it is because we have taken along too much extra stuff. Burdens which he does not intend us to carry.
Jesus invites us not to a legalistic striving, but to a joyous fellowship with him in which we learn of him and grow in him.
He invites us to take up a way of following him which fits our temperment, our ability. Jesus calls us to discipleship, to learn from him.
If we carry the load he wants us to it is joy
acceptance. That which is burdensome is soon dropped, but that which is light can be carried a long time
Why is his load easy? Because Jesus is tapeinos, servant of men, chrestos, kind, helpful, pleasant.
God's purpose for humans is that they become actual extensions of His life through a dependent relationship with Him." John 14:20, "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
Jesus gives a call to follow His Lordship.