Summary: We find true rest from guilt and fear in our Savior’s faithful love
How tired are you? Recent studies have shown that the average American doesn’t get nearly enough sleep. Employers are concerned about this. As a result, some workplaces are actually encouraging their employees to take brief naps after lunch, so they can be more productive in the late afternoon and evening. We are a people who need rest, and not just physically. More important, we need spiritual rest.
Thankfully, we have a Savior who understands our need and provides. Today, a message of hope is proclaimed to the weary and the burdened. It’s a message for all of us. Jesus doesn’t just tell us to take a nap. No. Istead, JESUS GIVES REST. He offers us rest as only he can. Jesus offers rest to weary heads, but 1) it’s not on a pillow. Rather, Jesus tells us to place our weary necks 2) under his yoke.
1) Not On a Pillow
Have you seen the church calendar lately? There’s a lot going on. In particular, we have our VBS coming very soon. Much work needs to be done. How about your own daily calendar? Is it full? Is it too full? Sometimes, we wonder if we’ll ever get a break. But there is hope. The words that Jesus has for us in our text today are indeed great news for weary people. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Some of us might wonder, can followers of Jesus really find rest? Many times we have talked about how it is not easy to be a Christian. In fact, last week we looked at the end of Chapter 10 in Matthew, and saw that followers of Jesus will even have problems in their own families because of their faith. Being a Christian is not a life of lying in a hammock sipping lemonade. How can it be restful?
We are tired. We need rest. What does Jesus offer us? To answer that we need to first understand what Jesus doesn’t offer us. He certainly doesn’t offer a pillow. But isn’t that just what we need? Who doesn’t like to lay his head on a soft, fluffy, pillow? It’s the picture of comfort. A pillow represents easy living. There are pillow soft upholstery on all sorts of furniture. There are even extra soft pillow-top mattresses for added comfort and rest. Who wouldn’t want a nice soft pillow right now? (But I’m not giving you any!)
The last thing we need is a pillow. Now, I’m talking about spiritual issues. Jesus provides rest, but he doesn’t offer any spiritual pillows. This is because he knows that’s just what our human hearts desire. We want to take it easy. We want a soft cushiony resting place. Deep down we desire spiritual pillows.
That’s what the Pharisees offered people in Jesus’ day –spiritual pillows. They taught that to please God, one had to follow a long list of religious rituals and regulations. Now, God’s will is very simple. He desires all people to honor him with their lives, and he put together a perfect list of decrees that cut to the very core of morality. Yet, God also reminds us that we can’t live a perfect, morally upright live on our own. The human heart doesn’t want to hear such a thing. And so, human beings came up with added laws and regulations which were meant to make godly living easy. In fact, these man-made decrees were held in higher esteem than God’s own word. Yet, that’s what made it all so easy in the Pharissees’ minds. If they made up the rules, well, then they could fluff up and manipulate the rules.
This is nothing new. The human heart has always desired a soft, easy rest. And it will stop at nothing until it achieves it. We think we can achieve spiritual rest on our own. How we like to play this game with God! God’s Word is very clear. It says there is only one path to salvation – faith in Christ Jesus as your Savior. That means admitting we can’t find spiritual rest on our own. Well, our sinful hearts are rubbed raw by such a message. Deep down we all want to fluff our own pillows. Our sinful hearts aren’t comfortable with the idea of someone doing that for us. The temptation is to change our position. If you don’t like what God says, then fluff his Word up, until it suits your needs. Manipulate it until you are comfortable with it. That’s what our sinful flesh desires.
This is risky business because we are imperfect pillow-fluffers. No matter how hard we try we can never please God. He demands perfection. He insists we make our spiritual beds without any wrinkles or creases. As Christ tells us in summary, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all our soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you shall live.” We can never do that perfectly. And then what happens is we end up struggling with guilt and always wondered if we had don enough to please God. What we think is a perfectly fluffed pillow in reality is nothing more than a crumbled, lumpy mess.