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Worship Series: Summer School - Lessons from Jesus
Worship Theme: Jesus Promises Rest
Lesson: Exodus 33:12-23 (EHV)
Gospel Lesson & Sermon Text: Matthew 11:25-30 (EHV)
Music: CW 229 This Day at Your Creating Word, CW 372 I Lay My Sins on Jesus, CW 587 Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Message: Jesus Promises Rest
Rachel Saint was born in Pennsylvania in 1914. She was the only daughter in a poor family of eight children. There was a nice, elderly woman who really loved Rachel’s family and loved Rachel in particular. This woman was very, very wealthy. When Rachel was 18, this wealthy woman took Rachel on a trip to Europe and, on that trip, told Rachel she wanted Rachel to travel the world with her for as long as the elderly woman could. “And after I die”, she told Rachel, “you’ll inherit everything I own.”
Rachel turned her down. Instead, she started working at a halfway house for alcoholics. After 12 years, she moved to Peru to work for a company translating the Bible for tribes in South America. She ended up meeting a woman from the Huaorani Tribe and told her about Jesus. Her tribe had never heard of Christ and she wanted Rachel to tell them about their Savior.
There were two problems. One, Rachel didn’t know their language and it would take her years to learn it well enough to work with them. Two, the Huaorani Tribe was notorious for spearing to death outsiders immediately upon meeting them. Despite those impossible obstacles, Rachel started learning the language. While she was learning it, her brother, Nate, also became involved in trying to reach out to the Huaorani people. He was a pilot and decided to deliver some food and medical supplies to get the relationship going, along with four other missionaries. When they arrived among the tribe, all five were immediately speared to death. If you were Rachel, would you keep going? Would you regret turning down the elderly, wealthy woman? Wouldn’t you feel lost not knowing what to do next?
That feeling—feeling lost, feeling directionless, feeling overwhelmed—is familiar. It’s something we endure often in this broken, sin-saturated world. Where are you directionless, overwhelmed in life? It is COVID-19 related? Judged if you do, judged if you don’t wear a mask? Is it the uncertainty of what will happen with school in the fall or with your job? Is it the toxic environment of social media and if you say one thing that might, kinda, sorta, possibly, on the third Thursday of the month (which is coming up so be careful) offend someone you’ll unleash a firestorm of hate upon you. Maybe for you, the reason you feel stuck is financial, or emotional, or romantical (I know that’s not a word but I wanted it to rhyme.) Where is it? What is it that’s making life, your life, not practically perfect in every way?
What’s really bad; what’s extremely frustrating is whatever you did, tried or planned to fix it hasn’t worked. When that happens, the sleepless nights can follow. The anxiety and anxiousness during the day persists. It makes you feel lost, directionless, overwhelmed.
I’m so glad you’re here today! Jesus has an incredible message of peace for your heart. This Scripture is the text I used when I met with a family after tragedy hit. A divorce. A death. A disease. This text, this gospel message of peace, took a person who was directionless and gave them hope, a plan, rest for their weary souls. Are you ready? Jesus promises rest.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) That’s you. Whatever it is that’s causing you unrest...no matter how big or how long you’ve been struggling or how new and scary it is, Jesus promises you rest. And isn’t that exactly what you want? Rest for your mind. Rest for your body. Rest for your anxiety. Rest from your worry. Rest for your soul.
But for that to happen, for rest to happen, you’ve got to remember the first part. The most important part. If you’re weary, if you’re burdened, if you want rest, Jesus then says, “Come to me.” Even if you aren’t a Christian, even if you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus or if you’ve strayed from that relationship, Jesus say “all you who are weary and burdened...come to me!” The ONLY way to find peace in this life is in Jesus! And he is calling you close! If you already are a Christian, then you know the only lasting peace in this planet is given by Jesus. Isn’t that exactly what the angels announced as Jesus the Light of the world broke through the darkness on Christmas Day? Peace to all who believe in him.
Sadly, though, Jesus has to remind even Christians to come to him. We are so quick, just so quick, when we’re wearied and burdened NOT to come first to Jesus. We try to fix our failures. WE try to make right our wrongs. WE try to calm the calamity, fix our frustrations, bind up what’s broken. But it doesn’t work. It doesn’t last. And we only make it worse.
When we’re exhausted from trying, then we escape. We escape the responsibility of what’s wrecked in our lives by whatever is convenient. For some, it’s alcohol. If you’ve had a bad day, a sad day, and said, “Oh man I need a drink.” You’ve been there. We escape in anger. Blaming others, blasting others’ opinions to anyone who will listen and even those who won’t on social media. But it doesn’t make us feel better. We try to escape by quitting, throwing our hands up saying, “It’ll never change; it’s not my problem anymore.” But then we don’t let it go. We sulk and simmer and stew in resentment. All it does is make us more wearied and worn out, more burdened and burned out. You know. You’ve been there.
Listen up wearied and burdened ears. Listen to your Savior. Listen to the one who brings peace as promised by the angels and delivered by God himself. Listen to Jesus, your Good Shepherd, your Loving Lord, as he speaks to your helpless, hurried heart. “Come to me all you who are wearied and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Ahhh... Yes, Lord! Rest. That’s what I need. That’s what I want. That’s what I can’t find. So directionless disciple, so wayward Christian warrior fighting wrong the battle before you, go to Jesus for rest. Don’t escape. Go to Jesus for rest. He reveals how this promised gift will be given. When weak, when wearied, Jesus says to you, “Take my yoke upon you.”
Ahhh.... No, Lord! Yoke? That’s not what I need. That’s not what I want. Jesus, isn’t a yoke that thing that hitches an animal up to a plow or to a wagon? Yup. That’s right. That’s exactly what Jesus said. Christ tells you for you to have true rest and lasting peace you’ve got to be hitched up like a beast of burden and carry a NEW heavy load. Sound fun?
Sounds confusing! Sounds counter-productive! If you’re confused by why God would throw a yoke on you seemingly adding more burden to your load, take a deeper look at the text, at what Jesus is lovingly offering you. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Right there is the difference! You’re not carrying the burden of this life alone! In fact, you are just along for the ride as Jesus carries the weight. In our tractor driving, city dwelling, western culture living life, we don’t understand the word picture Jesus is painting here. When a new horse had never pulled a plow or wagon before, it had no idea what to do when it was yoked up. So, the farmer would yoke that inexperienced horse together with a horse who had pulled before. The experienced horse understood how to drive forward and pull. The experienced horse understood the commands of the driver. A tug left meant go left. A tug right meant go right. A pull back meant slow or stop. A slap of the reigns on the butt meant you’d better giddy up and go! The experienced horse knew the commands and what to do. The inexperienced horse was just along for the hitched up, yoked up, ride. The experienced horse did all the work while the inexperienced horse ended up at the same location. Do you see what Jesus is telling you here?
There are times in your life when you are left in shock after a tragedy or after exhausting every means you could think of to make life right. You’re weary and burdened; your directionless and distraught. Jesus says, “Come to me...Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” When you pray to Jesus releasing your pain, your worry, your anger, your...well, you fill in the blank, you yoke yourself to Christ. When you study personally his holy Word with an open heart, with no excuse, with only true honesty of what you need, you yoke yourself to Christ. And what will he do? He knows. He knows what it’s like to be abandoned and abused, to be overlooked and overwhelmed, to be betrayed and belittled. Jesus knows what it’s like to have the whole world against you and to feel truly alone. So he won’t let you be alone. And when you don’t know what to do next, he will lead you. He knows. Jesus knows the commands of the Father who leads you through life. Jesus knows the dangers ahead and will safely lead you around them.
You know what’s cool? Guess what happens to the inexperienced horse after it’s been yoked to the experienced horse for some time? Well, it gets experience. It understands the commands of the driver. Go this way. Go that way. Speed up. Slow down. It has direction and purpose!
You know what’s cool? The longer you’re yoked to Jesus; the longer you find rest in Jesus as he moves you, strengthens you, guides you through life’s pain and problems, the stronger you get. You’ll start to shift from being carried along to walking alongside of Jesus and that’s where you shift from being wearied and burdened to having rest to true happiness.
Friends, tragedy will strike in this world. And the daily grind of surviving in this sin saturated world will make us weary and burdened. When that happens, go to Jesus. And in him, you’ll find peace and purpose.
That’s what Rachel Saint did. After her brother and those four other missionaries were speared to death by the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, she was understandably wearied and burdened but she went to Jesus. She yoked herself to Jesus in prayer and personal Bible reading and she found rest. She found peace and purpose. Being yoked to Jesus she was led not to give up on the Huaorani people. It took many more years of learning the language but when she was finally comfortable enough with it, she went to meet with them. Rachel died in Ecuador, like her brother. But she died after living with, witnessing to the Huaorani people for 20 years! She translated the Bible into their language, transformed the whole culture from the people who speared people to death to the people who loved Jesus! They gave her the nickname Nimu, which means “star”. “She called us her brothers,” one of her tribal friends said at her funeral. “She told us that God is building a house for us all. That’s where we’ll see Nimu again.”
Living a life of faith in a world that makes us weary and burdened is not an easy thing. In fact, your toughest challenges as a Christian might still be coming. Jesus is not calling on you to learn the language of a spear happy tribal people. He’s not telling you to travel across the world to find peace. He is simply asking you to trust him. To trust the one who had no rest on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday so that you could, so that you have that rest. Not just for a day. Not just for a night. But for all eternity.
Friends, take heart. Find peace in Jesus. As your loving Savior says to you, “Come to me all you who are wearied and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
One final, quick thought. One final, quick pinch of peace. Do you see how Jesus promises he will give you this rest? “For I am gentle.” Jesus is gentle with you. When you’re yoke to him, he won’t drag you along. He will move you. Gently. Lovingly. Mercifully. But purposefully. Go to Jesus. Yoke yourself to him and you will find rest, peace and purpose. Amen.