Summary: A sermon for Labor Day emphasizing the work of Jesus.
Work is one of the principal themes of the Bible.
Genesis begins with the story of how God the Father went to work drawing out the architectural plans for the creation of the world. He chose where each galaxy would be placed in this universe. To date, scientists have determined there are 80 to 100 billion galaxies, and it was part of God’s work to determine where each would be placed, including our own of which our planet is a part.
Our earth is just one planet in a huge solar rystem. And our solar system is just one member of the Milky Way Galaxy which has 200 to 400 billion stars.
And our Father God drew the plans detailing where each one of those stars would be placed, and even scattered them across the sky in patterns that astronomers would some day in the future observe and name, like the Big Dipper. The 7 stars composing this constellation is referred to by God in Amos 5:8 (American King James Version) Seek him that makes the seven stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.
Then God the Son began to create according to the Father’s plan. John in his gospel in chapter 1 says that all things were made by Him, in fact that without Him was not anything made. Paul repeats this in Col 1:16,17: For by Him (Jesus) were all things created;that are in heaven and are in earth, visible and invisible.;whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all were made by Christ for His own use and glory; so He existed before all things; and He sustains and embraces them all. And all coheres in Him.
And God the Spirit was working. In Gen 1:2, when the earth was without form and void, a shapeless chaotic mass, the breath of God was brought on above the waters, and the Spirit of God was fluttering over the face of the waters – hovering over the waters, which language is already giving us the picture of a heavenly dove, to eventually land upon the body of Jesus when He was baptized.
Part of God’s work was the creation of man and woman. Immediately after Adam was created, God put him to work and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate the soil and take care of it. And when the animals were created, it was Adam’s job to name them, all of them.
After Adam and Eve sinned, they were put out of the garden to labor and til the soil, but it was not work itself which was cursed – God has always worked and blessed work – but the soil was cursed because of Adam’s sin. It became hard and covered with thorns and thistles and Adam had to work his entire life and struggled to extract a living from it.
The Bible tells us that God rested on the 7th day from all that He had made.
But Jesus’ work was not done. Although He was the Son of God, He was born into an earthly family where Joseph owned a carpenter’s shop, and we can imagine that as the oldest son in the family, he often helped Joseph.
I’m sure He often watched Joseph build yokes for oxen for the farmers in the community. He knew that a poorly constructed yoke would not fit the oxen and would rub the skin and cause massive sores and pain. I’m sure Joseph as a master carpenter showed him how to make the best yokes you could buy in Nazareth, how they could be especially constructed to fit a particular team of oxen, and would actually make the oxen’s work easier instead of more difficult.
So it was no surprise that one day when he saw the people struggling under the heavy burden of all the Jewish rules and regulations promulgated by the scribes and Pharisees and how difficult it was for them to follow these rules, which He knew were totally unnecessary, He said to them in Matthew 11:28: Come unto me, all whose work is hard, whose load is heavy, and I will refresh you; bend your necks to my yoke and let me be your teacher for I am gentle and the yoke I offer you and my yoke fits so easily that my burden is light.
But Jesus built much more than yokes.
One of my favorite gospel songs says Jesus took 2 pieces of wood and 3 rusty nails and built a bridge of forgiveness which reached from heaven to earth. That bridge is open to everyone, all you have to do is walk across it by faith.