Summary: The third in a series of messages from passages unique to Matthew’s gospel. Taking on Jesus’ yoke provides rest to the weary.
Matthew’s Unique Message #3
Take My Yoke
CHCC: June 17, 2007
SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 11:28-30
INTRODUCTION: This week my brother-in-law, Bob, and his family stopped by to see us on their way to South Padre. They were full of enthusiasm as they looked forward to getting away from the grind. Four days later they stopped by again on their way back to San Angelo. The funny thing is, they looked worn out. They were sunburned from days at the beach. They were sore from learning how to surf. I guess the high point of their vacation came when they were riding bicycles along the beach and the seat fell off Bob’s bike (taking Bob along with it.) They joked that they needed to get back to work to recover from their vacation!
All of us know what it’s like to need some REST even in the summer. This summer I’m preaching some sermons from the Gospel of Matthew. I’ve been looking for the things Matthew recorded that none of the other Gospels talk about. I discovered that this well-known invitation: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest …is found only in Matthew.
1. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…
To get the full impact of these verses, we need to look at what preceded them. This is the third of three short statements Jesus made while he was debriefing 72 disciples who had just returned from ministry in the surrounding villages. We don’t have much detail about the report these men gave, but we can tell a lot from the way Jesus responded.
Both Matthew and Luke record that Jesus started by cursing the Towns that rejected his men. In verses 21-22, Jesus said, If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for you.
Then Jesus burst out with this prayer, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” Matthew 11:25-26
Evidently, the people who rejected the Gospel message were the so-called “wise and learned” ones. It’s likely some of the local Rabbi’s kicked Jesus’ Disciples out of their synagogues --- and warned their congregations not to listen to them. After all, they had called Jesus a “son of the devil.” Why would they treat His Disciples any better?
On the other hand, these 72 Disciples reported victories and miracles. They told Jesus about all the people who accepted their Message. Jesus rejoiced that the common folk … the uneducated … the powerless were the ones who understood God’s wisdom. And then Jesus said this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” You see, that wonderful invitation was NOT offered to the wise and learned but to the weary and burdened!
At times all of us feel weary and burdened --- just with the day-to day pressures of normal life. But I also understand that every Sunday we have people here who are carrying very heavy burdens. Some of you are absolutely exhausted --- from carrying burdens of sickness or grief or disappointment or loss. You are the ones Jesus is speaking to when he says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Jesus made a surprising follow up to that invitation when he said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me …
2. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me …
Why would an invitation to REST be followed by instructions to put on a Yoke? A Yoke is defined as a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals can be joined at the heads or necks for working together. If you look at the image on the screen, you’ll see the type that was commonly used. The information I’ve heard on this verse tend to focus on the Yoke as a symbol for the WORK we do for Jesus. His Yoke will be light. It will be custom made to fit us comfortably. And the work Jesus gives will be perfectly suited to each person. I think that is all true.
But the Yoke is more than a symbol of our WORK for Jesus; it is also a symbol of our CONNECTION to Jesus. When we take on the Yoke of Jesus, we connect ourselves to HIM --- the way two oxen are connected in a Yoke. Jesus does more than GUIDE us in our work. He works WITH us. He doesn’t just give us strength to pull the load, he actually pulls alongside us.