All Who Are Weary, Come To Jesus

Title: All Who Are Weary, Come To Jesus
Text: Matthew 11:28-30
Time: February 8th, 2014


One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Matthew 11:28-30, “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 soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I like this verse because it’s so realistic. It doesn’t paint too rosy a picture of the Christian life. If you listened to some evangelists talk you’d think that when you come to Jesus life suddenly changes and you no longer have problems, no longer feel pain, no longer experience difficulties. Life just sails by, like a ping pong ball over Niagara Falls. But we all know that’s wrong. Living for Jesus doesn’t guarantee an easy life. In fact, sometimes when you draw closer to Jesus your life actually becomes more difficult, because now you face opposition from the world, the flesh and the Devil, all trying to trip you up. Whereas before, when you weren’t living for God, you might have just coasted along with the crowd, flowing downstream along with everyone else. As a Christian you may face persecution for your faith. People you thought were friends might leave you. People will misunderstand you or reject you now that you follow Jesus. But what I like about this verse is that it explains the Christian life honestly but encourages us to keep following Jesus. Some of you might recognize that this Bible passage is sung in the famous Handle’s Messiah. I mention that because we just finished up the Christmas season, so it might be fresh in your mind. If you’ve never heard Handle’s Messiah you should check it out, and look specifically for this biblical passage, it’s a beautiful melody along with the words of the verse. But I love this passage because it encourages me to hang in their with the Christian life even when the going gets tough – and the going will get tough from time to time in the Christian life, so you’d better be prepared for it. Modern Christianity today tends to oversell happiness and well-being and success and prosperity and all the positive things we hope and pray for. There are many blessings from God, yes, but the Christian life isn’t all fun. But if you listen to some preachers you’d get that impression. They always smile, they’re always upbeat, and they come across as if they’ve not a care in the world. But that’s a misrepresentation of the gospel. It doesn’t fit historic Christianity – remember that the early Christians were sometimes fed to the lions in the Roman Arena. And it doesn’t line up with what the Bible teaches us. But what we can put our hope in is that Jesus will be with us and see us through anything and everything we have to go through. Sometimes he delivers us from trials and tribulations, but other times he helps us through the process. This verse gives us the proper perspective when face the difficulties of the Christian life. So let me talk about this one important verse and point out three truths contained in it.

First, it’s an invitation for the weary and burdened in life. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus invites the weary and burdened to come unto him and he’ll give them rest. Who invites the weary and burdened? Jesus. And what will he do? Give us rest. Now what does it mean when it says weary and burdened? Isn’t that a reference to the weariness of life in this fallen, sinful world? If you think back to the beginning, with Adam and Eve, their world was different from our world today. They didn’t have the curse of the Fall to deal with. When they planted crops, the weeds didn’t come in, and things were in perfect condition. But today, our projects, whether farming or work or anything, ours often fail or don’t work the way we planned. That’s what we learn in life as we get older, plans don’t always work out. When college students graduate from college they tend to be full of life, enthused and energetic. They’ve got a lot of optimism. Life hasn’t rained on their parade yet. Wait five or ten years later and see what they think of life. Sometimes life is very discouraging, especially if we approach it with unrealistic expectations. It can wear on you and wear you down over the years. Some people get cynical with life, that is, they get grumpy and negative towards life. That’s because life has been hard on them. Jesus here is inviting everyone, especially those who’ve experience disappointments, setbacks, failures, discouragements, hurts. And isn’t that all of us from time to time, at different times, in different ways. There was a book that came out a few years ago dealing with how to survive a “no good, very bad” day. Do you ever have those? Usually we have a few bad things happen each day, sometimes of different sizes, but we can handle most of them. But sometimes it seems like everything goes wrong certain days. Life gets to be a burden. We might even cry out, “Why me Lord?” Jesus invites us to come to him, in prayer, with our lives, by giving him our heart and soul. Come to Jesus if you experience pain and hurt by life – which is everyone – and he will give you rest for your soul. I frankly don’t know how people without a strong faith in Jesus make it. Well, let’s be honest, some people don’t make it. Their life self-destructs, they start drinking alcohol, their marriage fails, they implode. “Life is hard,” starts the famous book “The Road Less Traveled. It’s true, but we all knew that. Life is hard, more or less at times. That’s why we need Jesus. He’s inviting us to come to him daily for rest. He’s talking about soul rest. Peace of heart and mind. He’s talking about inner strength. Are you going through tough times in life right now? Are you burdened by cares and situations in life? You have an open invitation from the Lord Jesus to come unto him and unburden yourself in prayer. I like the old hymn that goes, “Have a little talk with Jesus, tell him all about your troubles.” That’s a little bit like what Jesus is saying in this verse. But there’s more to the verse.

Second, it’s an invitation to take up his yoke and learn from him. Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Wait, what does this verse mean? It seems to be saying, take up a yoke like a beast of burden. Yes, that’s exactly what it says. Take upon yourself the yoke of Christ. Now the image is one of a farmer yoking up his oxen. Long before the tractor farmers used to use animals like ox, mule, horse, and so forth to plow their fields. These are called beasts of burden. Now Jesus is inviting us to take up his yoke upon ourselves. But how does that help us? “Look, if I’m already overwhelmed by life, if I’m already burdened by the many responsibilities and cares of life, why would I want to take upon myself an additional yoke or burden?” Answer: because it’s the Lord’s burden or yoke, and that’s not like the other things you carry in life. You see, if you live for sin, then you’ll bear the burden of sin – and sin is a very heavy burden on the soul, mind, and sometimes the body too. If you are living for the world, following the crowd, ignoring God’s Word and just doing what everyone else is doing, there’s a heavy burden in that too. It’s an empty life, but it’s also a burdensome life as well. Which is why there’s so much depression, so much suicide, so many psychologists and meds being prescribed today. You can live for the devil too, but there’s a price to pay for that. It’s a heavy burden. Now you can’t get out of the burden of life, because like we already know, life if hard, it’s difficult. We’re not back in the Garden of Eden; we live in a fallen world, in a world of sinners, as we are sinners as well. The burden of sin is heavy. Disobedience to God carries its own penalty. What Jesus is saying is that since life is difficult, come unto him, put his yoke upon you, and let him steer you or guide you in life. And that’s a lot better life than anything else you’ll find. And at the same time, you’ll learn from him how to properly live life, so you don’t keep making the same mistakes again and again. That’s really frustrating when that happens. I hate it when I bump my head in the same spot, in the same place over again. It hurts because of the pain, but it also hurts because I feel stupid doing it twice. Why didn’t I learn the first time to be more careful? Well, we’re invited by Jesus to take his yoke upon us, let him lead and guide us, and learn from him. Yes, it’s a burden still, but it’s a good burden, because it’s the Lord’s will. God never sad life wouldn’t be hard, we’re just given the opportunity to choose the right kind of burden to bear. Will it be the burden of sin, disobedience, of the flesh or the world, or living for the devil – that kind of burden? Or will we be living the right kind of burden, of living for the Lord. Oh, it’ll still be hard. Remember the song, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” That could be God saying that, because it’s true. He never promised us a burden free life. But he does promise to lead us and guide us through life bearing the right kind of burden. Are you bearing the right kind of burden in your life? Is it the yoke of Christ? If it isn’t then why not take up his yoke today. Remember, you are going to serve something or somebody, might as well be the good Lord. But there’s more.

Third, here’s the good part – his yoke is easy, his burden is light, he’ll give you rest. Matthew 11: 30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Compared with living for the devil, or living for the world, or living for the flesh or sin or disobedience, Christ’s yoke is easy, his burden light. Now as Christians we are called to discipleship, or in other words, to follow after Jesus. Some Christians claim they love Jesus but don’t want to follow him. I still haven’t figured that one out yet. If you love Jesus you’d want to follow him. And following him is what we call discipleship. Now discipleship today isn’t very popular because it involves discipline. The two words disciple and discipline are related. To be a disciple of Jesus means you follow Jesus, it means you are disciplined in your life by following Jesus. What are the basic disciplines of the Christian life? Daily prayer is an important Christian discipline. Some Christians don’t like to commit to daily prayer because it seems like a burden to them. But remember this – his yoke is easy, his burden like. Yes, daily prayer takes discipline, and like all disciplines, sometime we don’t feel like doing it, we’d rather do something else. But remember, the discipline of daily prayer might be a drag some days, but compared with other things, worldly things, and sin and the flesh, it’s easy, it’s light. Remember, we’re going to bear a burden; we just get to choose which burden. Let’s choose Christ and his yoke, as opposed to the devil’s or the world’s. Also, daily Bible ready is a Christian discipline, and it too sometimes can become a burden. I read the Bible every day, but I must admit that before it became a habit or a daily practice, it was tough getting into the Bible every day. It was a burden to keep up the readings – I use the One Year Bible. But now, it’s a joy; it’s really not much of a burden. But then again, if you opt out of the discipline of Bible or prayer, then you’re choosing some other activity. But according to this verse, Christ’s burden is light and his yoke is easy. So why not choose what is best and light and easy, that is, Christ’s yoke, and learn from him? Obedience to God is always best. Sin is always hardest in the long term. You may think taking the sinful short cut is best, but in the end it’s always worse. The best way from start to finish is God’s way in life. Remember that next time you are tempted by sin, by the world, the flesh or the devil. Remember that long term, God’s way is always the best. It’s the least burdensome, least weary and lightest. That’s what Jesus says here, and it’s true. So when we approach Christian discipleship, when we commit to reading our Bible daily, praying every day, attending church, and so forth. At times, these may seem like burdens, but in the long run, they are the easiest and lightest burdens we’ll bear.

Now let me say a word or two about church attendance. Lots and lots of Christians feel that attending church on Sunday is so much of a burden for them that they just skip it. They stay home, watch a TV ministry, or read the newspaper, drink coffee, take a walk or drive, and they consider that Sunday morning schedule more attractive than being in church. But according to Jesus in this passage, his yoke is easy, his burden is light, so even though church attendance, and especially church membership, is a burden and a pain at times, still, it’s the best overall way; it’s the way of Christ. Some people object to church membership because they feel it’s a burden they don’t want to bear. They don’t want the obligation or commitment to be some place every Sunday, or live a certain way, or be held accountable for their attitudes and actions by other Christians. It’s too much of a pain or burden for them. But again, if you don’t attend church, if you don’t commit to and join a church, then the alternatives in the long run will bring you down. Lots of people skip Sunday church, then suffer depression during the week. They’ll claim those two things have no connection. Really? If you skip praise and worship, if you skip hearing the Word of God, if you miss communion all the time, and all the other things that Christians have done for centuries, if you opt out of all of these, what do you expect? You’re missing out on important things. Jesus says take up my yoke and learn from me. How can you learn from Jesus if you neglect sitting under the teaching of his Word of Sunday? No, church attendance and church membership is a necessary but good burden that we all need in our life. As more and more people skip church these days we see the rise of psychological problems. We see the rise of suicides. You can’t cheat on God and then expect a blessed life. The yoke that Jesus asks us to bear is light compared with the worldly, sinful yokes out there today. I won’t kid you — Christian discipleship isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s a pain, it’s hard. Confessing sin is never easy, and we all need to do it, and we all should be doing it. By the way, if you don’t confess your sins to God daily in prayer, if you just let your sins pile up without confessing them to God, then eventually your sins will find you out and in the end you’ll be worse off. Keep a short account with God in respect to sin. So the Christian life takes discipline but it’s worth it. Jesus invites us to a life of disciplined Christianity, a life ordered by Christ himself. But he’ll be with us every step of the way, in prayer, in the Spirit, in the church. He said he’d never leave us nor forsake us. It may get hard, but it’ll never get too hard. We’ve got the power of God to help us not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Are you walking with Jesus today? Or have you gotten off track lately? Why not come back to Jesus today and get back on the right track? Let’s pray.


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