Home Church Devotional 11/14/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “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. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
2020. The year we all thought would be perfect. Anyone ready for the New Year? It can’t get any worse…right? In a year that held so much promise for so many, it turned into anything but promise, you might even say it became a burden to heavy to carry! Now as we near the end of 2020 it once again appears as if things might take another turn for the worse! Will this year ever end?! And when it does end will 2021 be any better? Only time will tell but time needs to hurry up and move along! Maybe a long nap to end the year would solve the problem. After all, a little rest never hurts anyone…right?!
Rest is exactly what we find in our passage this morning. Not your everyday run of the mill rest, but the rest we find in Jesus. In verse 25-27 of Matthew chapter 11, Jesus claims to be the center of God’s self-disclosure. Jesus stated God the Father conceals and reveals at His will. No one is able to grasp a Christian understanding of God and a Christian relationship with God in their own strength or effort. They cannot discern who Jesus is or what the kingdom is unless God shows them.
Jesus is the full representation of the Father. Jesus has come from the Father’s side, equipped with the Father’s power and with a heart of the Father’s compassion. Further, only the Father can fully understand Jesus and only Jesus can fully understand the Father. With the limited understanding and discernment of our finite minds, we simply cannot fully understand the Father or His Son, Jesus. Thus, it is Jesus alone who can reveal the Father. He can show us because He alone knows! He is the Son. If you want to know what God is like – look at Jesus; if you want to get through to the Father – come to Jesus; if you want to discover the center of God’s self-disclosure – you find it in Jesus!!
So, after making these claims, Jesus offers a wonderful, warm invitation; an invitation found only in Mathew, to those who feel the need to be rescued by God. “Come to Me,” says Jesus, not “Go to God.” Jesus has come to seek us out, imagine the grace that drives the God of the universe to come and seek out those who rebel against Him. There are no words of condemnation here – only an invitation. Those who are weary and heavy-laden are particularly invited but there is more than meets the eye here.
The Greeks have been exhausted in their search for the truth, for Greek philosophy stated, “It is very difficult to find God, and when you find Him it is impossible to tell anyone else about Him.” The Jews must have found religion to be a heavy burden, for Jesus would later outright condemn the Jewish religious leaders for the legalistic traditions they placed upon people. Religion, for the Jew, had become a matter of endless regulations and duties.
Jesus came to end the search. He opened His loving arms, lifted the burden from our aching backs and tied nothing else upon us. He offers those who follow Him rest, not a stoppage from work; He offers them peace and fulfillment and a sense of being put right. And yet, there is a deeper rest, a rest that cannot be given but must be found. This is the rest of taking His yoke and entering into a partnership with Jesus. You see, the yoke, a wooden collar joining a pair of oxen, was meant to evenly distribute the load and enable them to pull jointly. This yoke speaks of loyal commitment.
In Judaism the yoke is applied to the Law. Jesus came as a wonderful fulfillment of that imagery. He invites those who are weary from the search or burdened by the traditions of religion to come to Him – not the Law. This is the yoke of discipleship; it brings rest because Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He is the example of what His disciples will be like as members of the kingdom – the very characteristics of gentleness and humility are on full display in Jesus.
The yoke of discipleship is easy because His teachings will equip us to live out God’s will in the way life was meant to be lived. The discipleship of Jesus will not become a heavy burden we must carry on our own, but rather, it makes the load one that is manageable. As disciples we are not released from the burdens of life – illness, chaos and tragedy will remain part of life but we are better equipped because of the promise of the sustaining help of Jesus in carrying our load.
Are you tired of searching for the truth? Everywhere we turn today, it seems as if someone has found truth – or at least as it applies to them. Some say there is no absolute truth, only a subjective truth for each person. What is truth for you might not be truth for someone else. Google the word truth and you come up with over 1 million entries! No wonder searching for truth is exhausting. Have the traditions and expectations of the church today become too heavy a burden to carry alone? It does not matter what church you attend they all have traditions passed down over time; they all have expectations that, many times, are simply not realistic. Worse yet, if the load becomes to heavy to bear, we are told we simply do not have enough faith.
Jesus says, “Come! I will give you rest.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His way is easy because He is gentle and humble at heart; He is the truth because His teachings equip us to live out God’s will; He is the life lived out as it was meant to be lived, the example of what His disciples will be in the kingdom. His yoke is the yoke of discipleship, a loyal commitment to partnership.
Advent season is upon us and in the coming weeks we invite you to come and find rest for your soul in the hope, peace, joy and love that can only be found in Christ Jesus.