Fifth Sunday after 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 9th, 2017; 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” (Matthew 11:28).
Life today is very busy. There always seems to be something on the go and there is little time to rest.
When we are younger we are kept busy with school and all the extra-curricular activities.
Then we get jobs that occupy a lot of our time.
And things don't seem to slow down all that much even after retirement.
I remember someone sharing with me that he retired 22 years ago and hasn't had a day off since!
There are so many commitments that keep us hopping from one place to the next.
And even when we don't have something on the go, it still seems difficult to rest because we are always “plugged-into” something through the internet, and emails, and texts.
It is 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 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 mean.
He knows that this busy, sinful, and fallen world - that is filled with constant chances and change - leaves us weary.
Sudden challenges with employment, financial problems, injuries, illnesses, trouble with our families, natural disasters, turmoil in the world - leave 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.
Our sin, 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 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, but that news is just too juicy to keep to ourselves.
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 their 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 the reality is we will never be able to do that perfectly in this life. With St. Paul, we continue to struggle with our sinful flesh.
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.
Christ 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.
In Jesus, we receive rest from our sin, our guilt, our shame.
In Jesus you are God’s loved, forgiven, and redeemed child - not because of what you have done, can do, or ever will do.
You are loved and redeemed because of what Christ has already done for you.
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.