Summary: Sin is just too tiring. Come to Jesus, and he will give you rest.
Title: The Right Fit
Text: Matt 11:28-30
MP: Sin makes you tired. If you want rest, be like Jesus. (Meekness)
Labor Day is a bit ironic, don’t you think? We take an entire weekend off to celebrate work, labor and holidays, and how do we spend it? By doing all those chores around the house we’ve been putting off ‘til things slow down. It just doesn’t seem right.
We take vacations in order to recreate - to re-create ourselves. We need that time off so that we rest, and when we’re rested, we’re more effective.
If you’ve ever used a band saw or a chain saw or just about any kind of power tool, you know there’s a maximum amount of work it can do. But you also know that if you’re approaching that maximum, you’re getting to the point where the tool isn’t as effective as it should be. There’s a sweet spot where the tool is doing what it’s designed to do, and then there’s a spot where it can accomplish the things it shouldn’t but can. That difference is the difference between breaking up concrete with a jackhammer and some jacks.
Any chef knows, cutting with dull blades is a bad idea. It’s harder to do, and it’s a lot less safe. Taking the time to sharpen your blades – to better fit them to the task at hand – is a very effective and productive way to work.
Well, this morning, our text is an invitation from Jesus to be more effective in our lives. He has a simple offer for us. Come to Me, Jesus says, and I will give you rest. Learn about me, he says, and things will work. Take up my burden, in exchange for yours.
But the rest Jesus offers isn’t like one day off at the end of a long hot summer. No, our Jesus wants to give us the kind of re-creating rest that gives our lives meaning.
His prescription is actually pretty simple. He just wants to focus us – sharpen us and fit us for his kingdom.
So, perhaps it is fitting this Labor Day to see how it is that God will accomplish that work in us. How is it, like the prayer ‘Away in a Manger’ goes, that he fits us for heaven? How is it that coming to him, taking up his yoke, is real rest?
I should start by telling you that a yoke is something you put on an ox to pull a plow. It ties the ox – the powerhouse – to the farmer so that they can do something together. But understand this: When Jesus is inviting you to take up his yoke, you aren’t the one providing the power or the direction in this relationship. Back in Jesus’ day, typically a farmer would plow with two oxen. One big old ox would be doing most of the work, and one younger who would be learning the ropes, so to speak. You get three guess which one you’re supposed to be.
Remember that Jesus is telling you to do just one thing – and it isn’t pull. He says ‘learn of me.’ Get to know how this yoke works. I’m actually doing the work for you. This burden is light. You know I find it interesting that Christ would use the word Chrestos to describe his yoke. You can say use the word ‘light’ to describe it, but the phrase ‘it fits well’ might be more appropriate. When you are yoked together with Christ, under his guidance, direction, and education, it works like a well-oiled machine.
Of course he knows how to fit the yoke on you. He made you. He formed you before the world was made. It’s no accident that he was a carpenter, skilled and able to make the best fitting yokes around.
Contrast that to the burdens we carry every day. Our way of life can be joy or it can be a burden. And the difference is simple: if our way of life conforms to what God intended, joy is a natural outgrowth of that. It’s like putting an orchid in sunlight or a fish in water. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate. It’s just right together.
When we’re not about the right things, it’s obvious too. Not conforming to God’s will is awkward. It’s like the fish on a bicycle. Deep in our souls we know something’s not right. That lack of conformity has name, it’s called sin. And, I’ll tell you something about sin. Sin tires me out.
Ecclesiastes calls it ‘a chasing after the wind,’ the hope that somehow, this time, that sin is going to satisfy. But all it does is demand the work without the reward.
Back in 1930, there was an up and coming attorney named Joe Cater. In an era of prohibition, he had made quite a career rooting out the corruption and cover up that was the hallmark of that time. He was only 41, but he made it all the way to the highest court in New York. Initially, he was energetic. But people began to notice a change. He grew tired, listless. Finally, on August 6th, he left $25,000 and a note for his wife. It simply read, “I am very weary. Love, Joe.” He got into a taxi to head to a play. He was never seen again. The case rocked the nation. Newspapers started calling him, ‘The missing-est man in America.’