Year A-Ordinary 14-Pentecost 5 Sermon for July 9, 2017 @RLC, Fbg “Taking on Jesus’ Yoke”: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:11-18; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Have you noticed that many people are never satisfied?
This is not new; people have always been this way.
If you need proof that people are never satisfied, consider how Jesus describes those he calls, “this generation” in today’s gospel.
Jesus says that they are like two groups of children calling to each another in the marketplace saying, “We played the flute and you didn’t dance”:
“We wailed, and you didn’t mourn.”
Of course, Jesus is comparing how different groups of people responded to his and to John the Baptist’s preaching and teaching.
They heard both but were not satisfied with either.
In truth, many people today respond to Jesus in the same way.
In other words, they hear Jesus’ invitation; yet, continue living complicated, difficult lives – lives that make Jesus sad; really sad.
I believe it is sadness that compels Jesus to give thanks aloud to God for having hidden wisdom from the wise and intelligent and giving it instead to “infants” – those of simple faith.
Then, Jesus speaks these comforting words; words so well-known that people take them for granted:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.”
I hardly need to convince you that many people today carry heavy burdens; for we can see it in their pictures in the newspaper, on social media and on television news.
Which reminds me of the castaway, marooned on a desert island.
He awoke one morning to see a ship in the bay and a boat putting off for the shore. A few minutes later, he met a crisply dressed officer when he came ashore.
After, saluting the castaway, the officer handed him a bundle of newspapers, saying:
“The captain’s compliments; he asks that you please read through these papers and then let him know whether you still wish to be rescued.”
Yes, it is not a joke that millions of people are heavily burdened today; you can see it on their faces.
Indeed, their expressions show just how desperately they need to wear Jesus easy and light yoke!
The problem is their complicated, adult minds which keep them from accepting Jesus’ invitation.
Nevertheless, once in a great while a remnant of a simpler, less complicated mind may emerge and give them hope that Jesus may indeed, want to share their burdens.
That same hope is what causes us to be open to salespeople who tell us, “Have I got a deal for you!”
However, are we open enough to accept Jesus’ deal to share our burdens - when most of our burdens don’t feel like burdens?
You see, most of us, most of the time - like the “stuff that weighs us down – our burdens.
We go shopping for them, look them up on the Internet, drive hard bargains to get them.
And I’m not only referring to our possessions, like houses, clothes and cell phones.
I’m speaking about the whole fabric of our lives, the way we tie ourselves up in knots with worries and fears, longings, resentments and revenge.
Just to be clear: Jesus does NOT say that life with him will be yoke-free - because yokes are just a part of living.
Rather, Jesus assures us that his yoke is easy, that it fits us well.
Indeed, in wearing Jesus’ yoke we can gain a new perspective on life,
- Jesus’ yoke keeps us from worrying – fretting over things that, a week later, we can’t even remember!
- Jesus’ yoke permits us to focus on things of eternal significance,
Like hearing and believing that Jesus carried our burdens and worries – our fears – with Him to the cross. And, there in dying and rising again, Jesus destroyed their power over us.
In a few minutes, we will eat the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together.
As we receive the bread and wine – Christ’s body and blood – please consciously give your burdens to Jesus.
And, when you return to your seat, do NOT; I repeat, do NOT take them up again.
For, in Jesus words, “This is my body given FOR YOU…This is my blood shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins” we are assured that through Jesus, we are free of sin’s power over us forever; so, leave your burdens, rejoice and be glad.
And all God’s people say, “Amen.”