Sermon on Matthew 11:25-30 for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, " Trading Yokes with Jesus"
· Re-read: “28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Beloved passage
· Burdens and yokes. Farming, oxen. Trading Yokes with Jesus. Heavy for light
· Our yokes and burdens: 1) the yoke of sin and guilt. 2) “wearisome changes”—the yoke of worries and cares in the world, 3) the yoke of labor
· All my burdens. All my anxieties. Sin and guilt—heaviest and perhaps least understood. Invisible, but we feel its weight. Feel the dread of guilt, judgment, fear of hell. Denial doesn’t get rid of it. Anger can’t lift it. Passing the blame doesn’t lessen the weight. Doesn’t stop us from trying. But sin presses down on our soul. Our conscience sounds the alarm. But sometimes we learn to suppress the alarm, numb the feeling, or ignore it. But only Christ can lift the weight of sin, His forgiveness gives the guilty conscience peace. Incredible lifting feeling!
· Ruck march. Lifting burden, lightness. How do I lay down my sin burden? Many of us go through life carrying growing burdens of sin, that weigh us down, but we never come to Jesus, never hear His invitation. How to lay it down? Come to Jesus. Name your sins and burdens. Holy Spirit lead me in repentance. Trading yokes. Jesus carries ours, gives us His light and easy yoke (more later).
· Our collect prays: “be our strength and support amid the wearisome changes of this world.” Wearisome changes. Welcome changes vs. wearisome.
- never-ending stream of bad news—violence, racism, divisiveness, latest crisis, epidemic, economy, wars, spying, corruption. Focusing on the bad news, one could quickly be overwhelmed by the wearisome changes of the world. Or if we’ve tuned all that out, much closer to home, the wearisome changes might be much more mundane but much harder to escape. Uncertain employment, how far the paycheck stretches, unexpected bills, etc.
- Trading yokes—do we get a promise of a little stability, a little less change? You may be disappointed that Jesus doesn’t promise us smooth sailing, or a life free of changes or uncertainty. But God promises strength and support amid the wearisome changes. God’s Word promises that while the heavens and earth pass away, the Word of the Lord endures forever. God promises that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Isaiah 33:5-6 the Lord will be the “stability of our times.” God is our constant, our foundation, our refuge, our anchor. Tiresome changes vs. God our constant. “Change and decay in all around I see, O Thou who changest not, abide with me.” Trading the yoke of our wearisome changes and cares is to receive God’s peace, His constancy and foundation for life, in exchange for helpless shifting sands.
· Yoke of labor: good weariness of labor, job well done vs. toil, curse of sin. “sweet is the sleep of the laborer” (Eccles. 5:12). There is a good “tired” and a stressful, anxious, worried “tired.” The full quotation is “sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” Anxious thoughts of the rich vs. simplicity of cares and physical exhaustion of labor. Sweet sleep is the reward of hard work.
· Jesus’ light and easy yoke. The forgiveness of sins. The weight of life lifted and carried by Him. We get to be “yoke-fellows” pulling alongside Jesus. He bears the weight and heavy lifting, we walk alongside. Walking with a light burden. Duty, tasks, bearing our cross. But trading yokes with Him is always a good trade. There is comfort and rest for the weary, rest for our souls, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.