Rest In This Ever-Changing World

Text:  Matthew 11:25-30

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Are you tired?  Are you worn out?  Do you have anxiety?  Are you terrified by sin and death?  Are you burdened from the load that you must pull?  Then take comfort, for Jesus bids you to come to Him.  Yes, we hear Jesus desiring that all people should come to Him and let themselves be helped. 

In today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we hear that those who labor and are heavy laden are called by Jesus.  In other words, those of you who are exhausted and tired due to trying to work out perfection by dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T,’ you are the ones that Jesus has in mind.  And those of you who are burdened by sin, death, the devil, and the world?  Well, …you are included as well. 

Now, in case you think that you do not need the Savior, keep in mind that there is no relief for you apart from Christ.  Apart from Christ, you are most certainly in a trap that only leads to depressing despair.  And beneath that despair?  You will find death, hell, and condemnation.  
And so, the more you attempt to meet perfection in your own strength, the more you will toil and work. The more you toil and work, the more you will exhaust yourself. And the more you exhaust yourself, the more you will despair. And beneath that despair is the dark abyss.  What this means is that there is no end to this trap; there is no bottom to this ploy.  And sin, death, the devil, and the world?  They never let up either.  They are against you, not for you.  They are a constant heavy force that must be reckoned with. 

And so, we do our best.   We labor, we attempt, we plan, and we strive.  But, we end up exhausted.  Trying to achieve perfection is like trying to get that carrot on the end of the stick, with sin, death, the devil, and the world on our backs. 

As already stated, this leads you and me to exhaustion.  It leads to shame.  It leads to us torturing ourselves with anxiety and restless thoughts. 

Jesus though, says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

Yes, those of you who feel the pressures of the yoke of the Law pressing down upon your hearts and minds, are the ones that Jesus has in mind.  Those of you who feel the weight of sin and death, are the ones that Jesus has in mind.  Those of you who feel the endless demands of the world and are tied in knots from all the conflicting messages of the world, well… you are the ones that Jesus has in mind as well.

My friends, the truth of the matter is that we human beings spend so much wasted time striving after peace, contentment, happiness, and rest.  Whether we are trying to silence our guilty conscience or whether we are trying to run from the attacks of the devil and the world, the result is the same.  We make things worse. Yes, all that striving after peace?  It makes things worse.  And all those supposed wise spiritual gurus and clever self-improvement tricksters, who come to you offering you relief, peace, tranquility, and rest?  They make things worse too, for they have nothing to offer but deceptions – deceptions that don’t make things better but only load you down more.  To the point; rest from your wearisome hearts, a break from burdens, and forgiveness of sins, neither comes from nor is found within us as individuals.  Looking to ‘self’ to overcome the tired soul, the burdened mind, and the pressures of the devil and world, will only result in more suffering, more unrest, more trouble, more fear, more grief, and more pain.  Looking to yourself essentially adds more labor and a bigger load to your own spiritual and emotional checklists. ‘Self’ is not the solution, but one of the main sources of our troubles.   

Indeed, all of your striving, all of your efforts to overcome the guilt of sin, all of your endeavors to fulfill the Law’s demands, all your expectations to fulfill the demands of others and offset the pressures for the devil, become like a heavy yoke.  They are like a yoke, which is placed over your shoulders and your souls.  It becomes heavy and constantly weighs down upon you as its sheer weight drives your face into the mud, thus suffocating you and making your soul weary and burdened.  There is no escape from this yoke as it seems to be cemented to you, clinging to your hearts and minds.

Jesus though, says to you, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

You, who have ears, hear!  Jesus bids us in these Gospel words to come to Him and bring our heavy load, give over all to Him.   He then says to take ‘His yoke’ and learn from Him. 

This sounds like exchanging one load for another, does it not?  This sounds like Jesus takes our yoke and we get Jesus’ yoke.  Yes, this is exactly what happens.  Jesus’ Gospel words are bidding us to come to Him – a gracious invitation – so that Jesus can relieve us of our yoke, that which we cannot bear. 

Hear the good news of the Gospel: what you cannot bear, Jesus bears for you.  He carries that yoke for you.  He fulfills the Law for you.  He suffers death for you.  He overcame the devil for you.  He overcomes the world for you.  He bears the condemnation and wrath of sin for you.  He is the sin-bearer for you, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

But there is more!  Jesus then promises to give you His yoke.  This is not exchanging one burden for another burden though.  This is a happy exchange.  Jesus takes and bears all of our sins and then gives us His yoke.  But unlike all the weight of sin, death, the devil, and the world, Jesus’ yoke is no yoke at all.  It is a yoke that is easy and is light.  You see, Jesus’ yoke is an easy and light burden because He does all the work.  We love because He first loved us.  We are committed to Him because He was first committed to us.  He paid for all our sins and set us free.  He fights the battle for us.  He equips us with His mighty power, the full armor of God.  He provides our escape from temptation so we can stand. Jesus is our relief, our rescue, our rest at every turn.  Our rest does not rest on us at all.  Our rest rests only on Jesus, who broke the yoke of slavery and removed its burden on the cross.  He daily lifts us and carries us on eagle’s wings.

In Jesus, you have a great exchange of yokes.  And with the yoke of Jesus placed upon you, as a complete and sheer gift, you will rest in the unforced rhythms of grace, as you learn to live freely and lightly. 

And when those temptations to earn righteousness by your will-power emerge – that need to self-justify – you can be sure that this is not from Christ’s yoke but evidence that you and I have crawled back under the old yoke as if it is still ours to bear.  And when the weight of sin, death, the devil, and the world press down upon your heart, soul, and minds, do not attempt to overcome it by your strength for you will surely fail.  Do not be deceived, this old yoke is not yours to carry, for everything has been crucified unto Christ.  You do not belong to sin, death, the devil, and the world.  The life you live, you live by faith in the Son of God who loves you and give Himself for you. 

Yes, in Christ there is no heavy or ill-fitting thing laid upon you. 

He does the verbs of salvation. 

He is your Shepherd, King, Master, Substitute, Savior, and Lord. 

Thus, whatever comes to you, whether good or bad, you can face it under Christ.  With Jesus, we can only be crushed if He is crushed too.  Ah, but keep in mind that He has already been crushed, and He was resurrected; therefore, in Christ, there is no condemnation of sin, no fear of death, no scheming of the world, but only forgiveness, life, and salvation with Him.  

Blessed Saints, Jesus is your rest – real rest.  Rest in Him.  Take, trust, and feast upon the Gospel for your souls knowing that it is not by your might or power, but by Jesus’ power and might that you live, walk, and breath.  Indeed, the yoke He gives in exchange is easy, and His burden light.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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