Sermon – Pastor Bryon (July 2, 2017)
Years ago as a young Christian I struggled with my lifestyle not measuring up to what I thought it should be. I wanted to live like a Christian and tried time and time again to live a wholesome lifestyle, but failed miserably. I couldn’t understand how “those people” in the church seemed to be doing it so easily, while I was struggling. What resulted from my failure and frustration was giving up. I believed being a hypocrite was worse than being a failure, so I just stopped trying. Although I gave up, there was something inside of me that yearned to be close to God. This produced chaos inside of me and created a battle in my mind that went on for years.
It took me a long time, but I have come to understand one simple fact; I didn’t know Jesus at all. I knew He was God and I confessed with my mouth and accepted Him as my savior, but I didn’t know Him and what He was really about.
The essence of who Jesus is and what He’s about can be summed up in Matthew 11: 28-30
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
When Jesus spoke these words His audience was made up of Jews and He knew firsthand the load they were under. The Mosaic Law was burdensome. The Jewish people were living under the demands of a system that required more from them than they could give.
Jesus begins this invitation with a request, come to me. This isn’t a simple request to come stand by my side. He’s saying, believe in me and be my disciples. His appeal is to everyone who is tired; beat down, depressed, weary, and carrying a heavy load. Jesus follows it up with a promise of rest. He’s offering something that appeals to most everyone. We can all relate to being overburdened from time to time. His audience was most certainly made up of people who were terribly troubled and even oppressed by the leaders of the day.
When Jesus refers to the burden He puts on us as a yoke, He is most likely using the language His audience can relate to, such as farmers. A yoke is a wooden harness used to guide oxen or other draft animals while plowing fields. Jesus uses the word yoke figuratively. He doesn’t say there is no yoke, but rather the yoke is “easy”. In fact, it is by taking on His yoke that He can provide this rest.
So what is the yoke Jesus puts on us?
To take on the yoke of Jesus is actually a release from burden. Yokes are made to bring two animals, such as oxen together. The yoke helps distribute the load between them. Jesus said his yoke is light. This is because He carries all the burden of His yoke. We co-labor with Christ as He uses his own strength. That’s why Paul says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
In John 6:28-29 Jesus was asked what is required to do the work of God, and Jesus responded; “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” TO BELIEVE IN THE ONE HE SENT. That’s what God wants from us, believe. This is why the Good News is so good. In fact, we should be calling it the Great News. Jesus has offered up himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The requirement to partake in what he has for us is merely to believe in Him. To partake in the peace that He has for us, believe in Him, to make it through the hard times, believe in Him, to save your marriage, believe in Him.
Like the early Jews we keep trying to take on the heavy burden of a hard yoke because there has to be more to this Christian life. In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas were confronted with a situation where men were teaching, you must be circumcised according to the laws of Moses to be saved. Peter responded to the men by asking, “why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Jesus has given us all we need to live a life pleasing to God. The best part, He carries the burden. Try as we may, we’ll never be good enough and we’ll never be righteous in the eyes of God except through the blood of Jesus. Rather than focusing on our problems, our sin and trying to be righteous, let’s shift our focus.
Focus on this
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12: 30-31)”
Focus on loving God and loving people. In order to love anyone we need to get to know them, spend time together, learn their ways.
God is no different; to love Him we need to get to know Him. There are three ways to do this;
Make a commitment to spend time everyday in His word.
Spend time in prayer speaking to God every day. Always take time to listen too.
This is essential to your relationship with God and without it you won’t experience the fullness of all God has for you.
These three steps will change your life. Before you know it, you will be stronger spiritually, and emotionally. Some of those struggles you’ve been dealing with will start to fade away and you will experience true peace in your life.
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