Rest | Matthew 11:28-30

Rest | Matthew 11:28-30

So I think we all like the idea of rest and when we think of rest, we probably have different things that come to mind.  [pics of rest]    So I don’t think Jesus is talking about rest like this in our passage today.  Jonathan preached a great sermon on Sabbath last year recommend to go back and listen to it.

Think to yourself if you are tired in any of these ways.

tired of just making ends meet,

tired of chasing after happiness, but never being satisfied,

tired of being angry

tired of giving and not receiving

Tired of trying to find real purpose and understand what’s really important in life,

tired of being scared because you don’t know what tomorrow brings.

If you’re tired in ways like this, then the message today is for you.  If you enjoy this rest that Jesus talks of, then I urge you to share this message and hope for rest with a world around you that needs it.  but before we get to talk about rest there are a couple of statements from Jesus that seem kind of difficult that we should address but that provide some context for his message.

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

So what is Jesus saying here?  What “things” is Jesus referring to?  Why is He hiding them?  The previous verses give us insight – Jesus has just condemned those who had rejected His invitation.  He had lovingly reached out to people in the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – they had seen Him do miracles and heard His messages, but failed to recognize Him and turn to Him.  They were “wise” in that in spite of what they saw and heard, they presumed to know better.  They were prideful and their pride kept this good news, these things, hidden, because God is looking for the humble in heart – the little children.  God has a tendency of flipping the norms of the world – we usually think it’s the wise and learned who have the upper hand, who have success, who have the best path in life.  It’s not to say that having an education or great experience is a limiting factor in coming to Christ, but we have to be humble in heart to receive Him and His rule in our lives. Jesus is praising the Father here because His invitation doesn’t require a particular spiritual IQ, attaining some special knowledge or some well checked to do list, but rather the humble and trusting spirit of a child.  Any barrier to God through Jesus, the hiddenness Jesus referred to is, not imposed by God, but rather by our own internal deliberation of one question – will we yield to Him?  Having a relationship with the Almighty God wasn’t (and isn’t) about the what one knows as much as the Who one knows. 

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

In this verse Jesus highlights His authority as the Son of God.  This was a hugely blasphemous and threatening concept to the religious leaders.  But this claim highlights that Jesus has all the authority He needs behind His words.  And authority not over a house, a church, a state, a country – everything!  Everyone!  And given to Him by God – a real challenge to the existing order.  Pharisees, Rome, temple.  We can know the Father through the revelation of Jesus to us.  Not just know facts about Him, but to know Him and have a relationship with Him.  No one knows the Father except the son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him – Exclusive statement…  But remember – He has just shared broadly in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – but the lack of revelation is more about the lack of humility on the hearer’s part than keeping something hidden.  The Great Commission Matthew 28 Jesus instructs the disciples to go to all nations or in Acts 1:8 to the ends of the earth.  But John 14:6 – no one comes to the Father except through Me.  The offer is open, but the requirements are not.  The good news is that He is knowable, that He is approachable, and that He is welcoming – but just as we don’t get to define God nor can we define the terms by which we approach Him – He is God after all.  When we come to God it’s through a humble spirit we talked about in v26, one that confesses sin, that recognizes and embraces what Jesus has done for us on the cross in accepting the penalty for our sin, and submitting to His design for our lives.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Take a moment to appreciate Jesus’s invitation.  It is certainly broad.

There is a present and future context to Jesus’s offer of rest that are interrelated.  Let’s start with the future context of this rest.  In John 6:37 Jesus says “whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”  There is security in a future rest and it is eternal because there is a time to come when those who bend their hearts to Jesus will experience Heaven.

Revelation 21

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

And because of the authority that Jesus has from v27, we can take confidence in His promise.  We can look forward with hope and expectation and know that the troubles of this short 80-90 years pale in comparison to the splendor of eternity with Jesus. God knows we need to have hope, a view to a better time ahead – without it, this life can be overwhelming and feel pointless.

So we have this future context of rest, but there is also a present meaning for us.  In promising rest, Jesus particularly cited those who are burdened and heavy laden in verse 28.  There are a couple of layers to this as well I believe.  The first is the burden of religiosity imposed by the spiritual leaders of that day – the wise and learned from V25.  Of huge lists of rules to follow…and after trying to follow this list of rules trails a burden of self-doubt and maybe even guilt.  Maybe you know what I’m talking about.  Doubts of being good enough, of having done enough good things.  Jesus’s approach focused on mercy and God’s heart for the people behind the law (which Jesus says a little bit later in Chapter 12).  Jesus was actually frustrated by these folks who made so many rules and seemed to create a barrier of do’s and don’ts between the people and their God.  This is where that interrelated nature of the future and present rest come together.  We can rest from the burden of trying to attain fellowship with God on our merits on our being good enough and at the same time have confidence in our eternity with Him and an eternal rest based on His mercy and grace towards us.

Secondly, there is also a rest that comes from having a life that is viewed and lived through the lens of eternity and relationship with Christ.  When we live like this, the things that seemed so important to have, to get lose their place of importance.  We realize that our life isn’t defined by what others think of us, or what we have, or what we know, or where we’ve been, or what we’ve experienced, but we’re defined by the fact that God loves us so that He gave His Son for us to forgive our sins and bridge the separation between Him and us.   Then we don’t expend our energy chasing after things that don’t mater.

In verse 30 Jesus said take my yoke upon you.  He encouraged us to shed the yoke of the religious elite, the yoke of doubt, the yoke of sinful self-centered approach to life and take His yoke. The point is that there is something to be done in following Christ.  There is purpose and meaning specific for you.  And when we are following Him and empowered by the Holy Spirit it isn’t heavy because it’s out of love and gratitude.  And we realize we’re not just making ends meet, we are part an important part of God’s plan.

For those who follow Christ, it’s easy to fall back into mindsets and patterns that resemble a life without peace, without hope, without confidence, without rest – we need to remember this good news in Jesus Christ is not a fleeting emotion, not a one-time transaction, but something we have access to everyday.  Have you heard the term “hangry?”  It’s a combination of the words hungry and angry to express the condition when we get short tempered, maybe a little snappy when we are really hungry.  There is another one I’d like to introduce – “tungry” – doesn’t have the same ring, does it.  But maybe you already know what I’m going to say – it’s that sense of hunger you get when you’re really tired but have to keep going.  And of course, when we get like that we’re not looking for carrots but for chocolates.  And it’s not healthy to eat like that.  I think this occurs in our spiritual lives too – when we get tired – we get tired of giving of ourselves, our time, our resources, our heart – and we turn to the wrong thing to keep us going.  I don’t think this is captured anywhere explicitly in scripture, but I think it falls under the scope of idolatry.  When we need rest and fulfillment from God, but turn to other things to fill what is lacking instead of to God Himself.  Maybe this is why David turned to Bathsheba or Moses whacked the rock or why the young prophet in 1st Kings 13 accepted the lie of the older prophet for nourishment.  In each of these cases, someone who clearly loved and followed God took a detour and violated the instruction of God and they each were clearly serving the Lord in very demanding ways.  I don’t know if this spiritual tungriness applied in these cases, but I clearly see it in my own life and maybe you can too.  I become more and more busy – doing good things mostly – and drift in my walk with the Lord (the length or quality of time I spend with him gets less) and I get tired and rundown and start to think, what about me?  When am I going to get mine?  And instead of resting and dwelling with God, I can look to other things to get mine, to get my back scratched, to get my cup filled.  …maybe God would have fed me in those ways anyway, but when I short-circuit God then those things will not be fulfilling, I will still be tired, and even less satisfied.  When you look to people or things to give what only God can, you will be disappointed every time.  …and that isn’t fair to the people we love because we will treat them like we’re disappointed and they don’t even know what’s going on.  We can see many times Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pray and be refreshed by being in His Father’s presence.  That is the path I need to take – go to Him the One who can fill my cup until it runs over.  Do you remember what God had said to Nathan regarding David’s failure?

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.

This is not a prosperity gospel.  I don’t think God would have given Bathsheba to David, but the point was and is the same as Jesus’s promise to us in Matthew to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”  In verse 25 Jesus invites us to come to Him as children.  Ok – moms – how many times a day do you here Mama or mom?  A LOT.  But as kids get older, that frequency starts to die down (hopefully!) as kids get older and more independent.  In a sense that is a sign of success for parents.  But I don’t think God wants us to do that – I think He wants to us to come to Him over and over and over and not “mature” out of our need for Him.  I think it’s maybe the opposite – the more we grow in our walk with Christ the more we recognize our very big need and dependency on Him.  We see that in Paul’s life – he was wholly dependent on his savior.

We all need rest.  We all need to be filled.  Jesus satisfies both. As you enter into periods of rest whether it’s summer break, vacation, week Sabbath rest, or our period in July of essential services – seek after Him not to be self-indulged and disappointed.  Recognize when you’re tungry and turn to Christ.

I encourage you today whether you have walked with Jesus for years or have not been willing to come to Him in childlike humility.  Embrace the rest He offers and remember there is a world around us that would be so grateful for this.