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Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Light of Christ Anglican Church
Fr. Robin Rauh, August 30, 2015

Yoked Together

Text: Matthew 11:25–30

It’s become more difficult to be a Christian in the 21st century. So how do you look to the things of the future with confidence and trust in Christ? I want to suggest three points this morning.

1. We’re blessed one we’re outsiders

2. We are blessed in our powerlessness

3. We’re blessed when were burdened.

The context of this is that Jesus has just sent out the twelve disciples as “sheep among wolves”. People will listen or they won’t listen but Jesus encourages them not to be afraid to know that God will go with them. Jesus has come not to preserve the status quo but to force a decision—a “sword”. Meanwhile his cousin John the Baptist is doubting in prison whether not Jesus is the Messiah. Things are getting rough there's lots of attacks.

1. We’re blessed one we’re outsiders

Verse 25 tells us that God has revealed himself to not the wise but the children. The “wise” are the temple elite—they’re the insiders the ones who live with their pride and entitlement and think everyone else is on the outside. The “children” are the dismissed the inconsequential unsophisticated. They’re not favored by God. This is a sobering passage warning us that we can easily become the new Pharisees in our own time.

2. We are blessed in our powerlessness

Verse 27 tells us the only real insider is Jesus not evangelicals or progressives or fundamentalists or nominal, charismatics or automatics—there’s no graduate level status in The kingdom of God. Were only connected by God through faith and trust in Jesus and what he’s done for us on the cross. It’s only through his perfect life and obedience that gets credited to us on the cross he gives us the gift of forgiveness through our repentance. What Jesus has done for us this something we can do for ourselves Jesus has freed us from the burden of what one author wrote as “sin management”. St. Paul struggled under this when he wrote in Romans chapter 7 verse 21. Jesus’ name means “Savior”. The children he refers to up to this point are people just like St. Paul just like you just like me. We know we cannot be “good people” left in the balance scales of any standard of goodness. The children of this passage will always come up short. Which can lead to despair or deliverance and that’s why Jesus makes his next point for us in the Gospel this morning in Matthew chapter 11.

3. We are blessed under the burden

In verse 28 Jesus says these memorable words

“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. “

This is an invitation for people who are weighed down with themselves. Those who can’t be what they want to be. For people whose life is a daily grind void of all sense of purpose and meaning. People who have lost their courage and energy to keep going with any real sense of hope.

So these three things: blessed to be the outsiders, blessed in our powerlessness and we’re blessed under the burden. What do we learn about God here?

We can learn that God is capable of revealing himself or hiding himself. Verse 25 tells us that God has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. God reveals himself even without us. The weight of ultimate responsibility is his is not ours. The freedom we have is simply to witness what we’ve experienced in our lives. We are not called to be a salesman for the gospel or to close the deal against another’s will. Jesus used different approaches to different situations—some through healing sometimes through direct proclamation that he is the Messiah. What's important is to take him at his word—he does the revelation or the hiding. It’s like walking through the door on which side one side it says “anyone is welcome” and on the other side you look back and read “chosen by God”. there is a mystery that we can never understand but God and his sovereign love knows better than we do. God also shows us that he chooses who he will reveal himself to. Verse 27 tells us that the real question is can anyone know God and the answers is in verse 27 “No one knows the father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him”. In our day Jesus is appearing to people in their dreams. He’s revealing himself in hundreds and hundreds of ways. He’s doing it with or without our help. We’re still called and we do have the duty to share our testimony in who he is but the ultimate power belongs to him. The cautionary word for us in sharing the gospel is the learn how to honor Jesus without dishonoring others. To share your witness doesn’t mean you have to attack what they believe. An example is you can share the gospel through the old testament. This is especially effective with Muslims are with Jews. You can teach out of the book of Isaiah. Why is this important? It goes back to the first verse. Most of Jesus audience rejected the gospel preached by the Savior himself Jesus. It is worth rejoicing in the few who are receiving it in our time—about one third of the world is Christian. It’s easy to be burdened by this apparent lack of success but taking Jesus’ words to heart actually encourages us. God is at work through his Holy Spirit and he’s recruited us to witness for him. The cross and resurrection of Jesus make an exclusive claim that only the Holy Spirit can reveal to the human heart. That’s the confidence we have in the Gospel. It’s a confidence we need to regain in Christ himself. He does the real work we just deliver the message as outsiders—powerless to make anyone believe, living under the burden of our own sin and yet sustained by Jesus.

Last of all we can learn that Jesus does not invite us to an easy chair but to take on and share his yoke.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

We’re invited to rest while working—sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it? I like to backpack and in hiking there’s a technique called a rest step: you step up and for a brief second you rest and then you take the next step. Jesus invites people who were worn out to be refreshed as they’re walking along with him. Both are pulling the same wagon of life. Jesus has promised his Holy Spirit to be with us now in this life and very practical ways learning growing in the conduct of living a better life than the one we live without him. Bearing up under hardships and loss with him as comforter and advocate against even our own guilty conscience. Pulling together with him in obedience the things he commands us to do and be he also equips us to do.

What does this yoke mean? It means you and I are not left on our own. You don’t have to pray and desperation “God please be with me” because you were already with him leading the way. It might be going into a meeting or into a difficult situation perhaps waiting for a unfavorable diagnose of health. Whatever it is, you’re going in there with him not the other way around. Second you don’t have to know everything. You have a customized to experience of your own life teaching directly from Jesus as you pray his words through you. Third it doesn’t have to all happen now—you’ll learn your rest along the way with him. This Gospel says something about Jesus himself that echoes the words we’ve heard before “for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls”. Jesus is thoughtful patient and loving and his correction all of us he is in the Old Testament Psalm 23. He leads us “beside still waters he restores our souls”.

In conclusion we're blessed one we are the outsiders we’re blessed in our powerlessness to make things happen and finally were blest even with the things were burdened with. Let's take a minute to let the Holy Spirit work in our lives and let these words of the gospel sink into our souls prayer:

Father God let the words of your son fortify us in the inner part of our being. Relieve us of our burdens convict our hearts to love you more than we love ourselves and as we walk with you and share your yoke give us life and the life that will go on forever with you.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen

©2015 Fr. Robin Rauh

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