A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on June 29, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Jesus Makes Hard Work Easy Matthew 11:25-30Children, what special day is this coming Friday? It’s the 4th of July our country’s birthday! Everywhere families will be getting together for cookouts and maybe going somewhere at night to see the fireworks. When your family has people over for a cookout, what are some of your favorite things to eat? But there’s one problem with having a cookout at your house. After everyone’s done eating, the kitchen is a mess. So, how’s this for a deal? Your parents sit and relax, while you, children, do all the clean up. Would that be hard or easy? However, something that what would make your work easy is if your parents did help you, and especially if they did all the icky stuff.As Christians, there are some hard things we want to do. We want to clean up our life and not do those things that make us feel ashamed or get us into trouble. And we want to be growing in His Word and sharing His Word with others. This morning we’re going to find out why these things are hard to do at times, and how Jesus Makes Hard Work Easy. In our text the disciples had just returned from their first missionary journey. Jesus had enabled them to perform miracles, plus they had Jesus’ own teachings to share, and the Holy Spirit helping to say everything just right. Bringing people to faith should have been as easy as eating watermelon on the 4th of July. But it wasn’t! Many refused to listen to them. Here’s why. Jesus came to give everyone forgiveness and victory over their sins. That’s not what the people wanted. They wanted lower taxes, better paying jobs, and better health care. In short, they wanted Jesus to fix their problems for them so that they could live a happy, normal life. However, when Jesus make it clear that He was a spiritual savior, and not an earthly savior, they were done with Him. What about us? What do we want from Jesus – an easier life, or forgiveness and victory over our sinning? But some might argue, “Forgiveness, that’s easy. Jesus died for me. But victory over my sinning? Come on, that’s hard; and since we’re all sinners, that’s not even possible!” Let’s talk about that. Last week I happened to be reading from the life of King David. When he was getting up there in years, and certainly old enough to know better, he and the people of Israel started getting an attitude. They took pride in their army instead of in the Lord. Because they had this sinful attitude, God allowed David to fall into that sin even more. That’s scary, isn’t it, that God sometimes deals with our sinning by allowing us to become worse in that sin. I’ll explain why later. But getting back to David – he ordered his generals to take a census, even though a friend warned him that this was a sin of pride. Well, as soon as the census was finished, David realized his sin and became afraid. He said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing – II Samuel 24:10." God did not let David off the hook with just an “I’m sorry.” But God humbled David and the entire nation by sending a plaque that killed 70,000 in just three days. Was God overreacting to their sin of pride? If we think He was, we don’t understanding how dangerous any sinning is to our soul. And so, from David’s example we learn that, even if we’re been a Christian all our life, we should all examine our hearts and face whatever sinful attitudes might still be in us. Granted, this is hard work. On the other hand if we don’t do this work, God may make our sinful attitudes more evident to us by allowing those attitudes to grow into actual sins, and then He will discipline us for those sins. God doesn’t act this way toward us, because He enjoys it. God loves us as a Father, who gave His only Son to be our Savior. But He wants us to recognize that our greatest need is that we have right standing before Him, and that we always have right attitudes in our heart, and followed up by always saying and doing what’s right. But how is that any more possible for us than it is for a child to clean up a 4th of July kitchen? Well, let’s see how Jesus makes hard work easy. We read in our text, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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."Here’s a picture of a yoke of oxen. Here’s a picture of just the yoke. Imagine we’re an ox (please just humor me on this). Also please imagine God’s Law as a huge heavily loaded down cart, we’re supposed to pull. All by ourselves we can’t do it. As Paul says, “The good I want to do, I don’t. The evil I don’t want, that I keep on doing.” But now God’s Son has become our brother, so that He could put Himself under this yoke with us, and pull the cart of God’s Law for us. Because Jesus has done this perfectly, our keeping the Law perfectly is easy. For us it’s just a matter of being yoked with Jesus by trusting in Him and then walking along side Him. Also, walking beside Jesus is easy, because He is gentle and humble, and He loves us, and He picks us up whenever we stumble. So, then, are you weary and burdened in trying to clean up your attitudes and your life? Come to Jesus! Be yoked with Him! Not only will we have rest for our souls, but more and more we will become like Him in gentleness and humility; and then also we will want to do everything we can, so others may know Him too. However, when we care and others don’t care that becomes another burden on us. In our text Jesus shows us how He pulled that burden. He praised God. Even though the majority had rejected Him, He 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. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 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 – Matthew 11:25-27.” This is one of those passages that might be hard to understand. If God wants all people to be saved, and He certainly does, why does He make the Bible so difficult that wise and learned people can’t understand it?Actually the Bible isn’t that hard to understand. If I may summarize - man fell into sin through our first parents. God promised a Savior and was patient with man. But man misused God’s patience to sin more, so God sent a flood. After the flood instead of trusting in God, man invented his own gods to trust in and kept right on sinning. Finally, God sent His Son to be holy for all and to die for all. Then on the third day God raised Him from death. On the 40th day He ascended into heaven, and on the last day He will come to be everyone’s judge. This is so simple that even little children are able to believe it. So you see, God does want all people to be saved. However, God is equally determined to bring people to saving faith through His Word. For this reason, if someone in pride rejects the Word, just like God did with King David, He will let their sinful pride take over in them. As a result, the Word will be hidden from them, they will reject it, and there will be consequences to that, because God’s Word teaches us the only right way to live and the only way to heaven. But what if in spite of the consequences, some continue to resist the Word? Jesus’ attitude toward them in our text was, “Let it be so!” Jesus wasn’t being uncaring. But just as He’s not going to change His mind in wanting to save all, He’s going to change His mind in wanting to do this through His Word. You see it’s through His Word that He assures us of forgiveness; it’s through His Word that He strengthens us against sin. On the other hand without His Word, there can be no assurances of forgiveness and no strength. Now, one would think that with so many blessings for being in the Word, and with so many dire consequences for not being in the Word, every Christian would be in church every Sunday along with their children, and every Christian would be reading his/her Bible everyday! Sadly, it’s not that way. So, then, why is faithfulness to the Word so often a struggle for us? Why do we sometimes blow it and let our pews and our Bibles gather dust? Perhaps the cause of this problem is there’s still some pride in us we’re not willing to deal with, or maybe a little idolatry of things or lack of forgiveness. Or, perhaps our problem is instead of being totally yoked to Jesus, we’re still trying to pull through life on our own. These are huge problems! And so if ever it seems like God’s Word isn’t working for us, or if ever we’re not getting much out of it, this is not a sign that God doesn’t want us. Just the opposite! God loves us with an everlasting love; and He wants us to trust Jesus like a child and to follow Him and becomes like Him. But He wants us to stop trying to do this on our own. Rather He wants us to rest in Jesus and His Word for our faith and for living our faith. And finally we all can do this. It’s easy, because Jesus invites all, not by our merits, but by His own merits, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” Amen.

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