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“I Will Give You Rest”
Matthew 11:28


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost—July 3, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We meditate on Jesus’ beautiful invitation to you in today’s Gospel Reading: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 light.”

Rest; that’s something a lot of people in our area haven’t gotten much of lately.  Those working round-the-clock to pack and secure their homes and possessions, often making an exhausting move to a temporary home.  The construction workers and others building levees through the night, and the National Guard patrolling them 24 hours a day.  And, even when you could get some rest, it often doesn’t come.  I counted up that Terry and I slept, or tried to sleep, in a dozen different beds the first few weeks of June.  Many of us lately have spent sleepless nights, trying to absorb all that has happened, thinking about all the things we have to do, worrying about what is to come.

What are the burdens you are bearing in your life right now?  Where will you turn for help, comfort, strength?  Where will you find relief from your burdens and rest for your weary soul?  “Come unto me” Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”

“Come unto me,” Jesus says, with the burden of your sin.  He carried your guilt to Calvary, he bore your sins in his body on the cross. “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.”  In his heart God is not angry with you, for he is gentle and humble in heart.  He forgives you, he loves you, he tenderly invites you to receive the salvation earned for you by your Savior.   “Come unto me . . . for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  That’s another way of saying you will find in him forgiveness, salvation, eternal life.  “You will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” 

This morning in Bible Class, in the Fellowship Hall downstairs following worship, we will begin a new DVD study on “Christianity and the Competition,” comparing and contrasting Christianity to other religions, such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This sums up the difference between “Christianity and the Competition” this way: “You will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Last week a radio host was talking about her recent trip to Disney World.  She saw Islamic women in heavy black robes, with only a small slit for their eyes, standing in line for hours in the full Florida sun and humidity.  That’s an illustration of the difference between “Christianity and the Competition.” Other religions burden their followers with a heavy, crushing yoke.  But, Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.”

The yoke that a Christian must bear is faith, trusting in him as your Savior.  “For my Father’s will,” Jesus says, “is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.”  Faith in Jesus is not a hard yoke or a heavy burden, but an easy yoke, pleasant to wear, a light burden, a joy to bear.  Come unto Jesus with the burden of your sin.  Take his yoke upon you, trust in him as your Savior, and you will find rest for your weary soul.

“Come unto me,” Jesus says, with the burden of your fear.  As Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  The book of Hebrews puts it this way, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.’”  “So fear not,” says the Lord in Isaiah, “for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will hold you up with my mighty hand.”  Come unto him with the burden of your fear.

 “Come unto me,” Jesus says, with the burden of your troubles.  The psalms say, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you.”  Come unto him with the burden of your troubles.

“Come unto me,” Jesus says, with the burden of your needs and wants.  Paul says in Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  “Ask, and it will be given you,” Jesus says.  “Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.”  The psalm promises, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  Come unto him with the burden of your needs and wants.

“Come unto me,” Jesus invites you.  “Come unto me with the burden of your sin; come unto me with the burden of your fear; come unto me with the burden of your troubles; come unto me with the burden of your needs and wants.  I will help you, I will comfort you, I will strengthen you, I will give you rest.”

“Come unto me, I forgive all your sins; come unto me, I relieve all your fears; come unto me, I ease all your troubles; come unto me, I supply your needs and satisfy your wants; come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

On February 15, 1546, Martin Luther preached his last sermon, on this text.  Three days later he entered eternal rest.  Luther closed his last sermon with these words: “Christ says, ‘Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’  It is as though he were saying, ‘Just stick to me, hold on to my Word and promises and let everything else go.  If  things go badly, I will give you courage even to laugh about it.  Just come to me, and if you are facing oppression and death, do not be afraid; it will not be for you a heavy burden, but light and easy to bear, for I am helping you carry the load and giving you power and strength.”

“Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 light.” 

A yoke is used for animals such as oxen to pull a load, like the oxen pulling the pioneers across the prairie in their covered wagons.  Sometimes a yoke is a single yoke, for only one ox.  But, if the load is heavy, you need a double yoke, two oxen, pulling together, side by side.  Picture in your mind a weary ox, all by itself in a double yoke, awkwardly struggling lopsidedly to pull a heavy load. 

That’s a picture of what life is like for you when you try to bear your burdens alone.  But, you are not alone.  Christ is there with you, pulling alongside you, bearing with you your heavy load.  Trust in him, turn to him, seek his help, his strength, his power.  He will make the yoke easy and the burden light, and you will find rest for your weary soul.  “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Amen.

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