Road Trip #4 – Rest Area
Matthew 11:28-30 (p. 682) August 3, 2014
Have you ever taken a road trip and you got so tired you had to pull over? I remember driving down to Florida after mid-terms one time, by the time I got to Atlanta I was bone tired...so I pulled over under this overpass near Marietta...the next thing I knew the car was rocking back and forth...blurry eyed I sat up and looked out the window to discover it was 7 am. Thousands of cars rocketed by at 80 mph. What did I do? I went back to sleep!
In Matthew chapter 11 Jesus is describing why He was sent here by the Father. How John the Baptist introduced the ministry, but unless you repent (and He mentions 2 cities that wouldn’t, Chorazin & Bethsaida) and accept the Son of God it will be worse on the Day of Judgment than it was for Sodom & Gomorrah.
But then Jesus reveals His soul like He’s never done before. It’s the only place in scripture where He describes Himself.
“Come to me all of 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 light.”
Jesus seems to be talking to people who are on the wrong road, and it’s made them bone tired and weary...so it says...Let me show you an amazing “Rest Area” He offers.
I. A RELATIONSHIP THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
What are most of us looking for in life? “C’mon Rick...I want the same things everyone else does...someone to love, someone to love me. I don’t want to constantly struggle financially. I’d like to be happy or at least satisfied in what I do, is that too much to ask?”
No...It’s too little!”
[The Demise of Guys by Zimbardo and Duncan
In the book---“the Demise of Guys: why boys are struggling and what we can do about it” Psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan say we may lose an entire generation of men to pornography and video gaming addictions. Their concern isn’t about morality, but instead about the nature of these addictions in reshaping the pattern of desires necessary for community.
Before you zone out...listen to what they’re saying...Satan is not a creator...He’s a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose.
God intends for a man to feel a strong sexual desire for his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed...
Those are God given desires and drives...these desires for real love and heroic valor are gospel matters...spiritual to the core!
But what Satan does in pornography is offer sexual release without intimacy...and in many games...video warfare games, he promises adrenaline without real danger...the arousal that makes both these so attractive is spiritual to the core.
Zimbardo and Duncan say powerfully...this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war. “The answer to both addictions is to fight arousal with arousal. Set forth the gospel vision of a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her. And then let’s train our young men to follow Christ by learning to love a real woman, sometimes by fighting his own desires and the spirit beings that would eat him up. Let’s teach our men to make love, and to make war...for real.”
And although I do not have the right to elaborate on it...Satan does the same thing to women...he plagiarizes God given impulses and desires...He lies about security and relationships. He turns having a child into the answer instead of a godly product of a Christ built union. He is a liar, murderer and a thief of our joy and lives.]
Satan offers novelty...temporary numbness and worldly disconnect. What does Jesus offer? Much, much more.
On this road trip called life the most important marks along the way are people...you’ll forget what you’ve worried and fretted over. You’ll forget about the things you thought you couldn’t do without.
But you will always remember the important people in your life, and the relationships that shaped you. Some uplifted you, filled your tank, gave you energy and enthusiasm...and some hurt you, scared you, drained your tank.
Satan offers no relationship. He offers what your sinful heart and selfish body wants... “The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the boastful pride of life.” (1 John 2:16)
[Solomon had 300 wives, 700 mistresses...more power, more popularity and more stuff than anyone who’s ever lived...and when asked if it gave him fulfillment he said, “It’s vanity...it’s meaningless!” (Ecc. 1:2) He got to try it all...all the things we think will make us happy and his conclusion...“Fear God, keep His commandments...for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed to judgment including every hidden thing...whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:8; 13-14)
Basically Solomon said after trying it all “The only thing that matters in the end is a relationship with God...He knows it all.”
That’s why Jesus says, “Come to me.”
Christianity isn’t a religion, it isn’t a theory, it’s not a philosophy...It’s a person. His name is Jesus and He desperately desires to rescue us from sin’s burden. He want to intimately share life with us and its eternity forever!
How would you and I describe the man or woman who exhausted themselves searching for happiness in porn or games, or stuff. Two words Jesus knew: Weary and Burdened.
The best New Testament picture of this is in John Chapter 4. It’s a woman most of us have met at sometime in our lives. She’s always gauging her worth and value by her relationship with men. And with each rejection she’s felt less worthy and of less value. 5 husbands, 5 divorces and now she just shacks up with a guy. Trading sex for a place to live, weary, burdened and dying of thirst and the respectable world couldn’t give a damn. And then she has a divine encounter with Jesus. He offers worth. He offers value. He speaks truth without condemnation. She needs a spiritual counselor for her soul, not a physical one so He offers “LIVING WATER!” Something that will last forever. Here’s the end of their conversation:
JOHN 4:25-26 (p. 742)
She says, “We need a Savior...we know He’s coming.”
And Jesus says, “I know you do...I’m here right now, talking to you.”
He still does that today...He said that to me...and He says it to you...“Come to me. I’m the Rest Area for your weary soul.”
Maybe part of the problem for most of us is
II. WE REFUSE TO PACK LIGHT
Jesus promises rest for those who are worn out if they’ll come to Him, but He says “Take my yoke upon you AND LEARN FROM ME. Have the same gentleness and humility that’s in my heart and then you’ll have rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
What does that mean for my Road Trip of life? If you are going to follow Jesus...PACK LIGHT.
Jesus uses the illustration of yokes. Here’s a picture of two kinds of yokes, a double yoke and a single yoke.
SHOW PICTURES OF YOKES ON SCREEN
Remember, all yokes are held by someone...the farmer, the owner. Double yokes put 2 animals side by side. The farmer has double power. The Apostle Paul uses the double yoke as an illustration for marriage or an intimate relationship. He tells believers in Jesus “don’t be yoked together with an unbeliever.” You don’t put 2 different animals under a double yoke. A donkey and an ox don’t work the same. “What do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” (2 Cor. 6:14) An even better question: Who has the reigns? Who’s directing the team?
I don’t think Jesus is speaking about a double yoke. He’s talking about His yoke...a single yoke. Every single person is going to serve someone. But, you can’t serve two owners at the same time.
MATTHEW 6:24 (p. 679)
Satan’s yoke is burdensome and heavy. Sin cracks the whip. The law requires perfectly straight rows which I can never plow. I’m trying to gratify self with something that’s not worth much.
[I’ve spent a lot of time in Eastern KY with my kin, and I lived in West Virginia for 4 years. When I think of Satan’s yoke, the yoke most try to live under, I think of those old time coal miners who would almost kill themselves, and sometimes succeed trying to earn the bare essentials. The coal companies would pay them in “script.” Coins or money that was only good at the stores they owned. It’s where the song “you load You load sixteen tons, what do you get. Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store.” (Tennessee Ernie Ford)
Satan pays with worldly script and laughs because he owns the store and keeps jackin’ up the prices. His yoke is horrible...because it’s owned by a liar and a murderer.
Jesus says, “Learn from me what my yoke is like.”
It’s light. It’s easy
Satan’s yoke is all about working for self. Promote yourself, get what you want, demand your rights.
Jesus says, “Be gentle and humble.” Two characteristics not valued by the world very much.
Gentleness is usually smothered by self promotion and defensiveness. Humility is strangled by pride and self-centeredness. Humility and gentleness don’t come naturally. If you hurt me I will hurt you back is natural!
[My wife has a philosophy. If I put something cold on her back like a jug of milk or a carton of OJ she then hits me as hard as she possibly can. Her philosophy is I want you to learn it’s going to cost you to do that. You are going to pay for doing that. I do not believe that is a childlike philosophy. And yet is seems to work well for us because she would say Jesus wouldn’t have put that cold jug of milk on my back to begin with. She could be right. But I’m not so sure!]
Please know I’m kidding about that stuff. But, humility and gentleness are fruits of the Holy Spirit not fruits of my flesh. My natural instinct is to hit you back so hard you won’t hit me again.
At the very core of every single one of us is a fallen, sinful, selfish human being. The Apostle Paul got it right in Romans Chapter 3.
ROMANS 3:9-12 (p. 783)
Jew, Gentile, black, white, rich, poor, young, old doesn’t matter. Selfish, sinful, all...all of us are under the same yoke. Unless...
WE TAKE THE YOKE OF CHRIST.
Why is Christ’s yoke easier and lighter than anything the world offers?
BECAUSE IT’S A YOKE OF GRACE.
Paul says, “God has shown the incomparable riches of His grace, He expressed this grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
GRACE (show on the screen)
GOD’S RICHES AT CHRIST’S EXPENSE
God took care of ALL sin – for ALL people by paying its penalty (death) with His perfect sinless son on the cross. No other way. And no one deserves it, because we’ve all sinned. We’ve all been rebels. Grace and mercy are different. Mercy means you do not receive what you deserve. Grace means you are not only released from the punishment, but you are given an “incomparable” gift.
This is the yoke every single person will either chose to put on or reject. When Jesus says, “take my yoke,” it’s a choice. He will not force Himself or His guidance in your life or anyone. That’s why Paul says
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Grace is God’s reaction to our sin. Faith is our response to God’s gift.
Faith isn’t working really hard so you prove your worth. God doesn’t believe your value and worth are in what you accomplish. (That is a heavy, heavy yoke. It’s a philosophy that drives almost every culture and generation to some degree).
How does Ephesians 2 explain it?
“Our salvation is not from ourselves, it is God’s gift. Not by works so that no one can boast, for we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:8b-10)
Let me end with a story that makes it perfectly clear...
[Max Lucado’s “The Applause of Heaven” - “The List”]
In Max Lucado’s book the “Applause of Heaven” reads, Even though by the “book” I’m guilty, by God’s love I get another chance. Even though by the law I’m indicted, by mercy I’m given a fresh start. “For it is by grace you have been saved … not by works, so that no one can boast.” No other world religion offers such a message. All others demand the right performance, the right sacrifice, the right chant, the right ritual, the right séance or experience. Theirs is a kingdom of trade-offs and barterdom. You do this, and God will give you that. The result? Either arrogance or fear. Arrogance if you think you’ve achieved it, fear if you think you haven’t. Christ’s kingdom is just the opposite. It is a kingdom for the poor. A kingdom where membership is granted, not purchased. You are placed into God’s kingdom. You are “adopted.” And this occurs not when you do enough, but when you admit you can’t do enough. You don’t earn it; you simply accept it. As a result, you serve, not out of arrogance or fear, but out of gratitude. I recently read a story of a woman who for years was married to a harsh husband. Each day he would leave her a list of chores to complete before he returned at the end of the day. “Clean the yard. Stack the firewood. Wash the windows...” If she didn’t complete the tasks, she would be greeted with his explosive anger. But even if she did complete the list, he was never satisfied; he would always find inadequacies in her work. After several years, the husband passed away. Some time later she remarried, this time to a man who lavished her with tenderness and adoration. One day, while going through a box of old papers, the wife discovered one of her first husband’s lists. And as she read the sheet, a realization caused a tear of joy to splash on the paper. “I’m still doing all these things, and no one has to tell me. I do it because I love him.” That is the unique characteristic of the new kingdom. Its subjects don’t work in order to go to heaven; they work because they are going to heaven. Arrogance and fear are replaced with gratitude and joy.