June 18, 2017 – Taking Up the Yoke of Jesus
Preacher: Rev. Charles Drew
Sermon Series: Parting Reflections
Matthew 11:1-19, 25-30 (ESV)
1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Introduction: Most of us are stressed out at least part of the time. Jesus means for our lives to be less stressful (“I will give you rest”). He does so not be removing our sense of responsibility about life (he is the Lord of all), but by showing us how and why to meet our responsibilities. We will notice two features of the “yoke” he has given us to bear as we press forward in our responsibilities.
I) We put on Jesus’ yoke by making a priority of learning from him
A) V. 29: take my yoke upon you and learn from me
B) Meaning for us
- Listening first
- Listening throughout our pilgrimage
- v. 25: I thank you, Father…that you have revealed [these things] to children
- Very young children don’t stress out. They seek and receive help from parents who love them.
- Sitting at Jesus feet is not always comfortable
- v. 7ff: What did you go out into the wilderness to see…A prophet…The one who is least in the kingdom is greater than [John].
II) The yoke we take on is Jesus’ yoke, not someone else’s
A) V. 28: Come to me…Take my yoke upon you.
B) Some false yokes
- People pleasing
But if life is beating us up, or if we are beating up others as we live…
III) Why should we take on Jesus’ yoke?
A) He loves us
- v.29:…for I am gentle and lowly of heart
- We see this throughout Jesus’ life
- We see it in the big story: incarnation and humiliating execution
B) Two great gifts from our gentle Friend and Master
- Comprehensive forgiveness
- New hearts
Take away: Sit at his feet
Questions for Reflection
- Discuss or reflect on stress in your life. What did you stress about last week? Why did you stress?
- Jesus tells us that “his yoke is easy and his burden is light” (v. 30). He also told John the Baptist that he was “the coming one” (v. 2)—which means that he has come to put everything right, and to enlist us in his agenda. (A. Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”). Jesus plainly wants us to bring evidence of his reign to everything in our lives. So how then can our ‘yoke’ be easy and our ‘burden’ light?
- Jesus tells us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,” which means that a significant element of what it means to have Jesus ‘put us to work’ in this world is to be life-long learners, sitting at his feet. Why is it so important to sit at Jesus’ feet? What does he want us to learn? How do we learn from him?
- Why is “sitting at Jesus’ feet” before and as we address life’s responsibilities such a significant stress reducer?
- Jesus commands us, “Take my yoke upon you…For my yoke is easy….” Compare Jesus’ “yoke” to some of the “yokes” we and others tend to put upon our own shoulders: the yoke of people-pleasing, the yoke of self-justification, and the yoke of results.
- Jesus encourages us to take on his yoke by telling us that he is “gentle (kind) and lowly of heart (humble)”. Recall at least three instances from the Gospels where we see these characteristics in Jesus. How does the gospel story itself reveal a God who is gentle and lowly of heart toward us? Thank God for his kindness and humility.
- Out of his kindness and humility God has given us at least two great gifts through Jesus. One is the comprehensive pardon of ours sins through the cross. The other is the gift of the Holy Spirit who changes our hearts, convinces us that we have been welcomed into the Father’s heart, and has set us on a trajectory that will eventuate in our complete transformation into people who love God and each other perfectly. Thank God for these gifts.
- What steps will you take this week to more regularly sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from him?
Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus Christ, you are our gentle and humble friend. You give us tasks that we can bear because you know us, because you have borne our sins, and because you have come to live in us. We confess that we often doubt your direction and love. We confess that we often choose burdens that you have not given us: we live too much to please others rather than simply to love them; we live too much by the directives of people rather than by your directives; we measure our success too often by outcomes rather than by faithfulness; we exhaust ourselves seeking to prove that we are worthy rather than resting for our justification in your self-giving obedience and faith. By your cross forgive our restlessness and unbelief. Forgive the wounds that we have inflicted on others because of our restlessness and unbelief. By your Spirit show us the Father’s love and welcome so that we may learn to rest more fully in your grace. We pray in your name. Amen.