Summary: If we are to be faithful disciples of Christ, and follow His example, we must be willing to disappoint others.
Good morning! I’d like to jump right in, and begin this morning with a precious promise, one that comes directly from Christ:
“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Rest. An easy yoke. A light burden. Sounds almost too good to be true, in today’s rapid-fire, high-pressure, no-excuses world. And to be honest, for many of you here this morning, it is too good to be true. Or at least, it feels that way. Because although you are following Christ as best you know how, and perhaps have been following him for many years, his yoke doesn’t feel easy, it feels difficult. At times it feels almost impossible. His burden doesn’t feel light, it feels heavy, almost unbearably heavy. And the idea of “rest” seems like a bad joke.
But — we’re sure that everyone else is doing fine, that we’re the only ones who are not experiencing peace, and joy, and rest, and so there must be something wrong with us. After all, it’s a promise! “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” And God keeps his promises, we know that. And so, we’re not quite sure what we’re doing wrong, but we’re embarrassed to admit that in spite of trusting in Christ, we’re still feeling weary and burdened, rather than rested. We’re embarrassed to admit that Christ’s yoke doesn’t feel easy to us; that his burden doesn’t feel light—lest everyone else realize how unspiritual and how sinful, we must be. So we put on a smile and suffer in silence. Does any of that sound familiar to you? At least some of the time?
If so, I have good news. I think I know why you feel that way. Or at least one of the main reasons you feel that way. And I’m going to first, explain it, and then tell you how you can begin to experience this promise; how you can begin to experience the joy, and peace, and rest that is our birthright as followers of Christ, but which too many of us only pretend to experience.
So here it is: Too many people think of Christ’s burden as something they add on to the burdens they are already carrying, rather than what it is meant to be, which is something that replaces those burdens. [Let me repeat that] And so the light burden of Christ becomes just one more thing, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It feels terribly heavy, because it’s added on to all the other burdens we’re already carrying. And that’s our fundamental mistake. Christ’s burden is intended to be instead of, not on top of. And when we realize that, when we rid ourselves of all the burdens the world wants us to carry, we will find that in fact, Christ’s burden is light, and easy, and even joyful, to carry.
So how do we do that? How do we rid ourselves of all the other heavy loads that Christ’s light burden is intended to replace? The Bible has a lot to say about shedding our burdens, more than I can address in one sermon. But I can tell you where to start. And that is by resolving to disappoint people. Yes. My hope is that, as a result of this message, you will make it your intention to disappoint people. Including, perhaps, your parents, your family, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, even some of the people sitting around you here this morning. My desire is that, having heard and considered what I have to say, you will choose not to meet all the expectations which all these people have of you, and that on the contrary you will intentionally fail to meet those expectations.
I’m going to suggest that the freedom which results from making that decision is a part of your birthright in Christ. More than that, I am going to suggest that in doing so, you will be faithfully following in the footsteps of our master and example, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus disappointed everyone: his parents, his family, his friends, his followers. And if we are to follow him, we have to be willing to do the same thing.
At this point, you’re probably a bit skeptical, because our culture paints a false picture of Jesus as a compliant do-gooder. Someone who was always eager to please, someone who was always looking for ways to make people happy. Happy, happy, happy. And nothing makes people happier than doing what they expect, right? Giving the people what they want. But this picture of Jesus is far from the truth. Not only did Jesus fail to meet the expectations of religious leaders and governmental authorities—you already knew that—but he also disappointed his parents, his family, his disciples, the crowds who followed and adored him—in short, everyone. Well, almost everyone.