Sermon 1705 Matthew 11.25-30 July 19, 2020
You say you are weary,
I know I am worn.
We both been struggling
since we were born.
And ev’ry ev’ning
comes an endless moan.
Weren’t meant to carry
this burden alone.
Rest for the Weary
Never too young (25-26).
Never steer you wrong (27).
Never a door closed in our face (28-30).
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.’”
Now, you might wonder how in the world I can start out a sermon about rest for the weary with little ones. “They are so full of life and energy!” Baloney! You just see them when they have a lot of energy. I would have all that energy too if I slept eighteen hours a day! Little ones say, “Daddy, carry me—I’m tired,” once they are four blocks into a two mile hike. Little ones get bored quickly. That’s why they are always asking “are we there yet?” Little ones become frustrated even sooner. Their first puzzles are under ten pieces. Give them a two thousand piece puzzle and they just look at you and laugh. Little ones are vulnerable to all sorts of things we don’t even think twice about. Our hosts aren’t going to serve supper until 8:30 pm when the other out-of-town guest arrives? Disaster for your toddler! Little ones take so much special handling many places don’t even want to deal with them. And instead of thinking these establishments as being run by monsters, we praise them as maestros and wizards within their five star restaurants or grand theaters. What if it were as hard to get your child into heaven as it were to get them into Joël Robuchon’s?
Our weariness, boredom or short attention span didn’t stop our Father in heaven. He laid out his plan of salvation with the weary in mind. You can never be too young for it. “Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” “Fear, love and trust in God above all things.”
Faith is trust. We are trusting that God the Father will carry out all his promises to us. He promised us a Savior. He sent Jesus. He promised he would forgive us all our sins. We feel the comfort of that forgiveness (more on that later). He promised he would take us to heaven to live with him forever. Looking around our world, I could definitely say he hasn’t fulfilled that promise, yet. More and more it looks like the book of Revelation—you know, a plague cuts down a third of mankind and people still do not repent. But we are trusting that he will carry out that promise for us, even if we die before he takes us to heaven at the end of the world. When he does decide this tired, old world has seen its last decrepit, sin-stained day, he will raise our bodies from the dead. Soul and body together again, just like they are now, we will live before God in heaven. Then we won’t be facing the struggle Paul describes in our Epistle reading. We won’t have the sinful human nature tripping us up.
Little ones trust. They are so trusting, they’d strike up a conversation with a guy wearing a hockey mask and carrying a chain saw. Most parents have to teach their children not to talk to strangers. Little ones don’t have to be very old at all to trust. Just watch the reaction when one of Daddy’s hurly-burley buddies holds little Junior. All of a sudden he realizes the last time he held something this small was when he carried a ten pound bag of flour out of Von’s. His arms tighten up. The baby senses it. “He’s going to drop me! Waaaaaaah!!!!!” Quickly Tarzan gives the baby to Mommy and it is like you hit a switch. Quiet as a mouse baby snuggles into mom’s trustworthy arms.
If you are never too young, if God can reach even these little ones, how much more can he reach you and me? We are only four months into what could well be a twenty-four month pandemic. “Carry me, Jesus.” He will. He does. He gives rest for the weary.
Rest for the weary. Jesus will never steer you wrong.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (27).”
We are used to being worn down by conflicting facts. It is called advertising. How can we wear people down so they spend a ton of money on a Toyota? Call it a Lexus! The only difference between now and when I was a child was that the advertising used to come between television news or entertainment programming. Now it is the programming. Let me give you an example from this very week. I don’t care that it’s a divisive issue. I don’t care if some of you go away thinking I am full of hooey. The times are such that I have to speak in such a way that no one can mistake my point.
My wife says a nap of twenty minutes is restful. I doubt that. After Sunday services last weekend I went home so weary I hit the sack for three hours. Slept like a baby. Woke up hungry! If I had tried to sleep for twenty minutes I would have been ornery as a little bear and so weary I would have been worthless the rest of the day. Following my wife’s advice would have steered me wrong. It may give her rest (I doubt it), but it definitely does not give me rest.
Jesus does not weary us by taking up one side of the power nap argument or the other. He comes to us with unquestioned authority. He will never steer us wrong. For every other human being, heaven is speculative, almost as theoretical as nuclear particle physics. Maye it’s like this. Some think it’s like that. A brilliant Greek philosopher compared our insight into the divine as seeing shadows cast by a campfire against the walls of a cave. “Yeah,” the Bible says, “it’s kind of like that, but the campfire has gone out.” “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those he loves.”
Jesus puts doubt to rest. He speaks of what he knows. He has seen the Father. Jesus, the Son of God, was in heaven for all eternity before he was conceived by the Holy Spirt and born of the Virgin Mary. He knows the Father. God the Father is all-knowing. God the Son is also all-knowing. That’s why those who believe in him have that blessed assurance. Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus rose again. Sins are forgiven. Eternal life awaits.
The message permits no uncertainty. When I first got into the ministry, well, I acted there is no “i" in idiot. People would ask me what my church’s position was on this or that and I’d give it to them. Then they would say, “Well, that’s what your church thinks. We see it differently.” I’d knock myself out trying to convince people. It was a tiring job! Now I rest. I let Jesus’ word do the work. If somebody asks me what the position of my church is on something, I ask them if they have a Bible, tell them to open it to a certain passage and ask them to read it. “What does it say?” I ask after they are done. “Well, it says this,” as they correctly repeat what Jesus’ word plainly says. “Then that’s our church’s position,” I tell them. “But we don’t believe that!” they might respond. “Now we’re getting somewhere,” I think.
Rest for the weary. Jesus will never steer you wrong. Rest for the weary. Never a door closed in our face.
“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (28-30).”
We haven’t noticed, because Jesus is so deliberate in his argument, so skillful in laying out his points. He has been offering rest for the weary all along. First he offered a rest that you are never too young for. He addressed the trust issue. Then he offered an indisputable rest for the weary. He addressed the doubt issue. Now he presents the invitation which will never be taken away. His rest will never be a door closed in our face.
First of all, is Jesus talking to you and me? Yes. We are weary. We are worn. Sin takes a toll on us. The sinful world wearies us. Our sinful human nature wears us out with all its second guessing. Is Jesus talking to you and me? Yes. We are so used to being burdened by sin and a guilty conscience, we can hardly think of life in any other terms than a burden to carry or share. We can hardly conceive of life as something other than a harsh task we must press forward with, no matter how it bruises and wounds us. “My yoke is easy, my burden is light,” Jesus says. If you have to think about life in terms of a burden, if believing in the Gospel is really a chore, it is the lightest of house cleaning, the most joyous task. If you think of the Christian life as a yoke placed upon your neck, then living the Christian life, seeing youth flourish under your care and example, seeing peers catch your contagious spirit of faith, hope and love, it is a yoke that fits so perfectly we rejoice to have it placed upon our necks. Jesus is talking to you, o weary one. Jesus is talking to worn-out, old me.
To sweeten the pie, Jesus describes how this rest becomes ours. We learn from him. There is not the slightest hint of condescension or privilege in Jesus’ words, though of all people he could have shown and expected both. There is no, “Come over here and I’ll teach you a thing or two,” attitude. There is no ramming something down our throat whether we want it or not. Our songs and literature are full of scenes where the lesson taught is wasted at best, useless at worst. Simon and Garfunkel marvel how they can think at all after being educated in their little town. The poet, trapped in a boot camp classroom where they are naming the parts of a gun, sets his sights on the blooming japonica, red as coral outside the window. Jesus doesn’t teach. He asks us to learn from him. The focus is on our benefit, our growth. And we do. We come to him. His words, his examples, they sink in, we drink them in. It becomes part of our DNA, part of us. Not duty, a joy. Not a burden, a calling.
Now comes the ala mode on that pie, ice cream and a mountain of whipped cream to boot. Jesus describes himself. “I am gentle and humble in heart.”
He is not saying this to meet some monthly sales quota. He is not saying this to put another feather in his hat. He is honestly there for you. He has my best interests at heart. If we don’t trust him already, the day he suffers on the cross to take away your sins, to pay for every one of my iniquities, that wins over the most hardened of Roman hearts. “Surely he was the Son of God.” That gives comfort to the most lost of Jewish souls. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus isn’t the department store on the day after Thanksgiving. He doesn’t offer limited quantities of rest and if you are not lucky enough to get the door-opener price, well, that’s just the way this stuff works. He holds the door open for us. He wants us to enter. He longs to give rest to our souls, rest we can only find in him.
Rest for the Weary
Never too young (25-26).
Never steer you wrong (27).
Never a door closed in our face (28-30).
If there ever was a time to admit we are weary, this is it. If there were ever a time to recognize this thing is going to wear us down, this is it. The answer isn’t to fight it out on these lines for the rest of the summer. Those who struggle need a message other than “Fight On!” or “Bear Down!” “Come to me,” Jesus says. “Here is salvation. Here is peace. Here is rest. Nothing will happen to you without my permission. Nothing will happen to you that will not turn out for your good. Come and rest in me. I never created you to carry this burden alone.”