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Weekly Word

Entries in Rest (2)

Tuesday
Apr102018

Rest for the Weary

Matthew 11:28-30.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty on April 8, 2018.

Last week we talked about how Jesus offered himself to Israel as their king, but not in a way that would satisfy their flesh.  The same is true to all who are invited to come to Jesus.  The heart of God is to invite us into relationship with Himbut it is not in a way that satisfies our flesh.  He will not stop calling us to Himself until we leave this earth.

So we see in this passage a wonderful message that reminds us that God wants to give us rest for our weary souls.  Are you weary in this life?  Listen to what Jesus has to say in these verses and then follow His wisdom in order to find peace.

Jesus gives His invitation.

When Jesus started his public ministry, He went out of His way to be available to the world around Him.  In fact at times he became so hard pressed by the crowds and multitudes which gathered that his mother and brothers worried about Him and thought that He should quit and come home.  In verse 28 Jesus gives an invitation and it is about more than following Him around the Sea of Galilee and seeing a miracle.  He is giving a spiritual invitation that must be responded to in physical and spiritual ways.

Today, when we hear about the invitation of Jesus we may respond by reading the Bible, finding a group of disciples to join and praying.  However, this can only go so far if there is not a real spiritual response to the call of Jesus at the foundation of it.  Thus it takes both.  If a true spiritual work has been done in my heart then it will give external evidences in our life.

It might be easy to read the Bible and think that Jesus is much better than the God of the Old Testament.  This would be a mistake.  If you take Jesus seriously, He is telling us that He is the perfect representative of the heart of God.  He only spoke and did what the Father had given Him to say and do.  Jesus is calling us to Himself on behalf of God the Father.  As the Son of God who has been sent to save us from the tyranny of this world, He has full authority from the Father to give this invitation.  Remember the picture from this passage.  When God looks upon us, He does not see pitiful losers that aren’t worth the time of day.  Instead He sees people who are struggling under heavy loads that He did not make for them, enslaved by systems that He did not intend for them,  simply lost and captive.  So the Father sends Jesus to call us back from the ledge.

The invitation that Jesus gives is to come to Him.  He is not calling us to a particular denomination, or pastor, but to Himself.  The relationship is first and foremost a relationship with Jesus.  Everyday that we wake up needs to be a new day in which we hear the voice of Jesus calling us to Himself, and respond by drawing near to Him.  God does not want to be distant to you.  

Though the call of Jesus is technically for anyone who hears it, Jesus puts a choice before us.  Much like the “whosoever” of John 3:16, Jesus leaves it up to us if we will come to Him or not.  Bear with me on this.  He brings up the issue of weariness.  His call is to whosoever is weary.  This puts the hearer in the position of thinking, “Am I weary?”  Of course everyone who is not in relationship with Jesus is weary, but not all will admit it.  This is the spiritual part of the call.  It is a challenge to our mind and heart.  When I hear the words does the conviction of the Holy Spirit stir up my heart to admit that this is me?  In fact even followers of Jesus sometimes grow weary when they forget that the call is to a relationship with Him rather than a list of duties to fulfill.

Are you weary?  Jesus invites you to come to Him today and every day afterwards.  The invitation of God has always been to the weary.  Isaiah 50:4 says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He awakens me morning by morning.  He awakens my ear to hear as the learned.”

He wants to replace our yoke.

Although Jesus technically tells us that He will give us rest when we come to Him, he uses the metaphor of a yoke to drive the point home.  A yoke was a wooden or metal harness that was used to connect a beast of burden to a load.  This picture reveals much about what Jesus is trying to show us here.  It involves us being a beast of burden or a slave to things in which we are laboring for another.  The yoke represents the obligations that one has in life.

When a person is born into the world, many obligations are put upon them.  As they learn to speak their parents begin to put obligations upon them.  At some point society itself will assert the individual’s obligations to it.  Add marriage, religion, nations, and especially our plans and obligations that we put upon ourselves, and you now have an amazing amount of “yokes” that an individual picks up in life.  All the different people we are trying to satisfy.  Even the person who says that they don’t care what anybody thinks still finds themselves yoked to the competing desires of their own flesh.  Thus we are all loaded down with all these claims of duty that practically pull us apart.  

Notice that Jesus has a switch in mind.  He is not wanting to add His yoke to the lot.  Rather, He will remove all those yokes off of your neck and only put His upon you.  Now someone might say that this is not right.  We shouldn’t have any yokes, but be free.  The problem is what I mentioned earlier.  What happens to a person in this life is that they end up a slave to the competing desires of their own flesh.  It is only by accepting the Lordship of Jesus that we can find true freedom, although that sounds contradictory.  Our only hope is to switch masters.

Remember that Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings.  So he has complete authority to tell us to quit trying to please everybody else (especially our self) and simply pull the load that He has for us.  He nullifies all the obligations that we or others place upon ourselves and says, “Let me be your master.”  Does that mean we will suddenly quit fulfilling our obligations to the people in our life?  To the contrary, people who become followers of Jesus are often better in these areas.  Christ helps us to be a better child, father, mother, employee, citizen etc.  Instead of trying to please people we now focus on pleasing Jesus.  When Jesus is your Lord, it becomes difficult for the world or the devil to manipulate us any more.  A person who has come to Christ has had their life simplified and clarifies the real reason why we are to love one another.  I am to love you because Christ asks me to do so.  Yes, even the world loves those who love them.  But such a quid pro quo world ends up with a soul full of weariness and in bondage.  Let Jesus be the teacher who shows you what your true purpose is, not another person, or even one you make up on your own.

It is to your benefit to come to Him.

Jesus knows that it is not a very tempting invitation to take on a yoke.  Thus He points out that it is to our benefit to take Him up on this offer.  You see, He is a better master than any other.  First of all, He is gentle.  Obligations and duties become impersonal and focused on the load that must be pulled.  In so doing we can even force ourselves to pull loads that are too heavy and end up damaging ourselves.  Sometimes churches make this mistake.  They can be all excited and encouraging to a new person who joins the group.  But, then over time the expectation for you to get in and help pull the load can start to corrupt the situation.  I am not saying it always happens, but that it is a common error.  The real question is not about whether a person is pulling the load we think they should be pulling, but if they are listening to Jesus and doing what He is saying.  Jesus is far more gentle than we are, even on ourselves.  In fact, I have found that people can be extremely harsh on themselves.  Jesus is gentle and will not overwork you, heartlessly whipping you to get the task done.  The truth is that Jesus simply wants us.  He wants our heart.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  

Secondly, Jesus is lowly or humble in heart.  The masters of this world are proud and full of themselves because they are blinded by the devil.  The devil is the ultimate taskmaster who cares not for those who toil under him.  Like Israel in the slavery of Egypt, Jesus comes out of the middle of the wilderness, and while he calls us to himself, He also says to the spiritual powers of this world, “Let my people go!”  Who has ever heard of a slave being able to pick their own master.  God gives us that authority because of Jesus.

Another benefit to taking the yoke of Jesus upon yourself is that He gives rest to our souls.  Nothing sounds sweeter to the weary and heavy burdened person than rest.  But notice that Jesus is not so much concerned with physical rest as He is about spiritual rest.  Throughout our life as we choose to go our own way, we give up an increasing amount of our soul until we find ourselves harassed and in bondage.  Jesus sets us free on the inside, which is rest to our soul.  This will often make a difference on our experience in life.  However, even then the key is not trying to get a certain something out of Jesus in this life.  Rather it is about having rest and peace in our soul.

Like Noah, we find ourselves working on the load that He has given us, while the whole world around us scoffs at our insanity.  The world doesn’t understand what we are doing.  Thus it mocks and ridicules the faithful believer.  It is this way because the world doesn’t understand or know Jesus.

Ultimately, God cares about us and wants to give us rest in our inner person.  Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the way and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it;  then you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”  The wise and sophisticated of Israel back then were like the wise and sophisticated of the world today.  They are always coming up with new paths and reasons why to disregard the Creator and His proven word.  Yet, they will never come up with anything that is better than what Jesus is offering.  In the end they just craft a new and improved form of tyranny.  So let me ask you again, “Are you weary?”

Rest for the Weary Audio

Tuesday
Sep242013

Let the Spirit Descend

Today we are going to continue discovering the True Jesus as we look at His water baptism and the signs from God following it.  In Luke 3:21-22 we are given a very brief account of the baptism of Jesus.  Luke focuses on the signs that were given at the baptism.  However, in the other gospels we are able to pick up other important details of this event.

We Resist The Holy Spirit

In Matthew 3:14 we are told that when Jesus came to John in order to be baptized, John tried to prevent him.  Now it is obvious that the wicked will resist the Spirit of God and His leading.  And, we can see how even those who claim to know Him can resist where He is leading (i.e. Pharisees, and Sadducees).  Yet, here we see that even those who are closest to the Lord can let their own thoughts and flesh get in the way of where God is leading.  Yes, John means well.  And, yes, what He says is true.  Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized as a means of repentance.  And John is the one who needs baptized by Jesus.  However, his mistake is in his conclusion.  We often make the mistake of good intentions.  We use human reasoning that begins with biblical truths, but then we err in our conclusions.  If Jesus truly is the Messiah, and the one who is so intimately involved with God’s Spirit that He would baptize people in the Spirit, then we should listen to him and not vice versa.

Good intentions and biblical reasoning does not always choose best.  We see this with Peter as Jesus was approaching the cross.  Peter’s reasoning cannot accept that Jesus should be killed and so he tries to prevent Jesus from believing such a fate.  However, Jesus rebukes him and points out that he is concerned with selfish reasons and not concerned about what God wants.  The sooner we can discover that we simply need to follow Jesus rather than instructing Jesus the better we will be.  In fact immediately after telling Peter he was wrong, Jesus then told his disciples that if they wanted to follow Him they would have to pick up their own cross and follow him (i.e. not only am I going to die, but you need to also). 

John is falling into this same trap.  In fact it might even send the wrong message to have Jesus baptized.  Some may think he needs repentance.  Yet, the Father and Son had worked this out in eternity past.  Let’s look at the response to John Jesus gave in Matthew 3:15, “Permit it to be so now.  For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”    Jesus didn’t rebuke John, but he did correct him.  This was not a theological debate, it was the plan of God. Pause and think about that for a moment.  Don’t we often have theological debates with God when we don’t things are headed in the right direction?  But the issue is not really about theology, but rather what is God doing.  In fact our theology should have room for this: He is God and I am not.  Therefore He will do the planning and I will do the following.

Jesus used the term “fitting.”  The best illustration I can use of this is the difference between a schematic blue print and a painting of a cathedral.  God always has a blueprint that is exact and follows certain realities and Truth.  However, He is also an artist.  And, art is not so much about rules as it is about the character and imagination of the one doing it.  Jesus being baptized was not theologically necessary, but it was an artistic flourish that was “fitting” or perfect!  It was an act of beauty in which the Father determines to reveal the messiah in an act of humility.  It also is fitting for the one who would later say pick up your cross to lead his disciples.  So here Jesus walks the path that actually leads to himself and it begins with public humility and surrender to God’s way of salvation.  Jesus was less concerned with his reputation and more concerned with our need for him.

Thus as it is fitting for Jesus to embrace the Father’s plan of revealing who He was during a water baptism, so it is fitting for us to submit to Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We have to be careful of an attitude and mentality that only does what is necessary or fits the blueprint that we think God should be following.  It is a signature trait of God’s that he doesn’t just do what is right.  He often blows on past what is right and does what is jaw-dropping, amazingly, beautiful, fitting, and perfect!

John didn’t understand the why, but he did understand the who, and so he relents.  If we too will relent and trust God, He will reveal the beautiful things that He is doing in our lives as well.

Confirmed With Heavenly Signs

Now let’s look at what John the Disciple had to say about this event.  In John 1:33-34, we are given a look behind the curtain from John the Baptist.  John says that initially he didn’t know who the Messiah was for sure.  But God had told him to go forth baptizing and when he saw the Spirit descend on a man and remain with him that would be the Anointed One.  So Jesus is not just the Messiah who would save Israel, but He is also the One on whom the Spirit rests.  John was actually baptizing for two reasons.  First, he baptized to prepare people for the messiah.  Second, he baptized so that God could reveal who the Messiah was. 

John testifies that he saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove come down and land upon Jesus.  But then he recognized that the Spirit stayed upon Jesus.  Just in case John would miss this, God confirms the sign by a voice from heaven.  “You are My beloved Son.  In You I am well pleased.”  These two heavenly signs were enough for John to declare that Jesus was the messiah.  They are powerful signs by themselves.  But remember John was told in advance what he would see.  John was convinced and gave himself to convincing his followers that Jesus was the messiah. 

Yet, notice how John refers to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.”  John knew the Scriptures and recognized that Jesus didn’t just come to deliver Israel from the Romans.  Rather He came to deal with their greater enemy: sin.  He was the lamb that God provided as prophesied by Abraham on the mount with Isaac.  He was here to take away the sins of the world.

The Spirit Rests On Jesus

Let’s end by focusing on the Spirit remaining or resting upon Jesus.  Isaiah spoke of the Messiah in these terms in Isaiah 11:2 when he said that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him.  Now we have several images operating here that symbolize something powerful.  So I will do my best to tie it all together.

First, notice the dove.  The dove is given as the symbol of the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus.  Later Jesus connects the dove with innocence or purity.  “Be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”  The dove is also connected with the Great Flood and Noah.  After God had poured out His judgment upon the earth, the dove was sent out to see if there was any life, any place it could rest itself.  This image of a pure innocent dove flapping all over the earth looking for any sign of life on which it may rest is anchored in this account for a reason.  It demonstrates the heart of God.  Even in judgment His heart and hope is to find those upon whom he can land, and rest, and with whom He can commune and have relationship.  Just as the devil goes to and fro throughout the earth like a lion seeking whom he may devour, so the Holy Spirit goes to and fro throughout the earth like a dove seeking on whom He may rest.  This helps us to understand Jesus and His role.  He is that lone olive branch that was finally found by the Holy Spirit.  And, because Jesus has been given the Spirit without measure, He in turn immerses those who believe in Him within that same Spirit.  We can become a resting place of the Spirit, not because we had life in and of ourselves, but because we have come to Jesus and received life through Him.  In fact, the Spirit is life.  Let the Spirit descend in your life.  As poetic as it may sound, you will find the Life that created the universe residing in your soul and leading you in ways that won’t always make sense, but they will end in beauty.

Spirit Descend Audio