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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

July 5, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Matthew 11:25–11:30

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 11:25-30; Romans 7:14-25a
Date: July 5th, 2020; Pentecost 5; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus says some of the most comforting words in all of Scripture when he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
  • A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of animals and then it is attached to a plow or cart that they are to pull.
  • We have machinery that takes care of this work today, but you can imagine in the past the oxen labouring and weary as they pull this heavy equipment through the fields.  Such a great burden.
  • Jesus uses this image to help us understand the yoke, the great burden, caused by sin.
  • In particular, he is speaking about the great burden of believing that you can earn God’s salvation by keeping the Law.  This is a great burden because the truth is that no matter how hard you labour to earn God’s favour - it remains impossible.  
  • But the yoke of sin manifests itself in our lives in many ways - all leaving us weary.
  • We can all think of the different ways that sin is a burden in our lives and how it is and weighs us down.
  • Sudden challenges with employment, financial problems, injuries, trouble with our families, turmoil in the world, pandemics - leave us weary.
  • And in our face-paced lives, it can be difficult to find the time and the space to rest - both physically and spiritually.
  • And while all of this “busyness” is harmful to us in many ways - the most serious problem is when God is left out of the picture.
  • The cares of the world can have a way of getting in the way of God in our lives, and this leads us to feeling weary.
  • And put very bluntly, when we allow our busyness, or the cares of the world, or anything else in all of creation, to get in the way of God - we are breaking the First Commandment: “You shall have no other Gods” - meaning that we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
  • It’s not by accident that God gave us the Third Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” - meaning that we should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
  • God knows how easy it is to become distracted and focused on our earthly lives and on ourselves - so he has given us a Commandment to set time aside to rest and receive his gifts.
  • Practically speaking, we do ourselves a lot of harm when we do not keep God centre in our lives and receive the gifts he has for us.
  • More importantly, we are going against God’s clear Word of Commandment - and it is sin.  
  • For this we repent.
  • God didn't give us his Commandments to be a heavy burden, but to point us to where we can find true rest.
  • He knows that this busy, sinful, and fallen world - that is filled with constant chances and change - leaves us weary. 
  • In Jesus we have rest.
  • In Jesus we find the One who “changest not”, the One who remains true to his promises, the One in whom we have complete assurance and confidence - despite what we might be facing in our lives.
  • Jesus says to you, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
  • We find rest in Jesus because he has dealt with the source and underlying cause of all of our weariness - which is sin - something we are unable to deal with on our own.
  • Our sin and our inability to live according to God’s will - makes us weary.
  • As we heard in our Epistle lesson, this is something that St. Paul wrestled with.  
  • He knew very well how God wanted him to live - and he deeply desired to live according to God’s will.  
  • But he recognized how he continued to sin and fall short no matter how hard he tried, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18).
  • Wearied, St. Paul says of himself, “Wretched man that I am!” in his letter to the Romans (Romans 7:24).
  • We also fight this battle against our sinful flesh. 
  • We promise ourselves and God that we are finally going to put an end to that sin that we continue to struggle with.
  • We know that we shouldn’t continue to gossip as we do.
  • We know that we shouldn’t drink so much, or gamble so much, or spend time on that website, or feel such jealousy over what that person has that we don’t.
  • We know that we should love, support, and build each other up.  Yet, we find ourselves focusing on and speaking of others faults and failures. 
  • We know we should help the poor and needy as we can.  Yet, we find ourselves making sure all of our needs and wants are looked after, while others go without
  • We know that we should return to God the first fruits of all that he has blessed us with that his work on earth may be done.  Yet, we find ourselves instead returning the crumbs and leftovers once we are done with them. 
  • As hard as we try, we can’t bear the weight of living according to God’s Law - and this leaves us wearied.
  • This isn't an excuse to give up on fighting our sinful flesh.  By no means!  
  • We continuously seek to drown our sinful nature in our Baptism and strive to live our lives according to God’s will. 
  • But, with St. Paul, we continue to struggle with our sinful flesh.
  • But also with him, we give thanks to God - who through Jesus Christ our Lord - has delivered us from our body of death.
  • Into this reality, Jesus proclaims, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29).
  • Hear that again: “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29). 
  • The burden and yoke has all been carried and done for us by Christ.
  • Christ carried the burden of our every shortfall, every time we fail to live according to God’s will.
  • He wore that yoke of obedience that feels to us like being trapped in a vicious cycle.
  • Christ’s perfect obedience, his perfect keeping of every law - is given to us and counted as ours.
  • Christ took the whole burden of the world’s sin upon himself when he died on the cross – this includes all of your sin.
  • The way to find rest is to trade the heavy burden of our sin for the yoke of Jesus and to learn from him who is gentle and lowly in heart. 
  • In Jesus, we receive rest from our sin, our guilt, our shame.
  • He has died your death and he has given you his life.  
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have rest for your souls – now and for all of eternity.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Pentecost

August 9, 2020

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

July 26, 2020

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

July 19, 2020

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost