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The Yoke’s On You

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3 steps to rest in God

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Start with a Joke… (with a title like The Yokes on YOu)
After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet’, which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems and document their repairs on the form.
Pilot: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
Mechanic: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
PILOT: Something loose in cockpit
Mechanic: Something tightened in cockpit
PILOT: Dead bugs on windshield.
Mechanic: Live bugs on back-order.
PILOT: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Mechanic: Evidence removed.
PILOT: Target radar hums.
Mechanic: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
PILOT: Number 3 engine missing.
SERVICE: Suspect you're right.
PILOT: Number 3 engine missing.
Mechanic: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
PILOT: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
Mechanic: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
Here is a great fact of faith—God sees everything we do. There is no act that escapes the Almighty’s attention. And that simple fact is used repeatedly throughout the Bible and really throughout Christendom, to dissuade us from sin. Wise old king Solomon tells us in , “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He watches all his paths.”
It’s probably a good idea to remember that. Sometimes when you’re considering telling that lie, watching that movie, checking out naughty websites, sharing gossip—whatever—it might help to remember that God is watching.
But if we’re not careful we’ll begin to get a sense that God is some kind of traffic cop, sitting on His Almighty Kawasaki, radar gun in hand!
Can I suggest this morning that God is watching not to catch us sinning— He’s watching because He is keenly interested in us!
Our Bible is crammed with examples—let me just give you two really quick: these are in the life of Christ.
,When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,”
, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Jesus was keenly aware of the condition of His people, weary and scattered. - the ESV says harassed and Helpless - NLT: confused and helpless - NASB: distressed and dispirited - KJV says they were tired and scattered. Lots of different thoughts - but all of them pointing to a people who were not resting in God.
Just a couple of chapters later, Matthew would record these remarkable words of Jesus:
Just a couple of chapters later, Matthew would record these remarkable words of Jesus:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” NASU
Pray with Me:
John Stott, who Billy Graham says is the most respected clergyman in the world, says that , is the greatest invitation ever made. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
I will give you rest…I will give you repose—refreshment—relief—revival.
The psalmist writes, “I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.”
Let me take a few minutes and share Jesus’ three steps to rest in God!
Come To ME
Our passage begins with the first clue, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Step One: COME to Me…or come to ME!
In verse 29 Jesus quotes the Prophet Jeremiah. Jesus says, "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 , Jeremiah quotes God…
Thus says the Lord, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.”
Jeremiah says, look for the good ways, ask directions and when you find it—walk in it—and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah says, look for the good way…the ancient way…
Jesus says, I AM the Way!
Sounds kind of simple…doesn’t it? Easy? Pam and I were talking about this rest—this respite from the struggles of life. To the soul in trouble, to the soul in turmoil this must indeed sound like the greatest invitation ever made.
Here’s the paradox. I didn’t read the entire verse as Jeremiah wrote it…listen to the whole verse, (6:16)
Thus says the Lord, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
They turned God down. Jesus was re-inviting a people who had turned down His Father’s invitation.
Jesus chastised His challengers one day in the book of John, chapter 5:39-40
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” NASU
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. NASU
Friend, pleads with us, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Commit To ME
Step One: Jesus says COME TO ME.
Step Two: He says, COMMIT TO ME
Jesus says, "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.
Are you surprised that Jesus offers rest? Of course not; if you’re anything like me you’re counting on it. But we read this passage with such familiarity that I wonder if there is any hope that we even notice the paradox that Jesus Himself brings up!
He’s just promised to give us rest by adding to our workload. Take My yoke upon you…
The word “upon” is an interesting word because it actually means here to superimpose it on you. To place it right over everything else. Kind of like I did in the Bulletin with the sermon Title.
He doesn’t say to dump the load you’re carrying; He doesn’t suggest that you take stock of your various commitments; He just says take My yoke upon you…
The Greek word for “yoke” is “dzoo-gos” from the root of zeugnumi which means “to join together” especially by a “yoke”. Literally it means a beam—but figuratively it means an obligation!
The sense is that of two oxen yoked together. They could have individual yokes, and still pull the same cart—but they’d be in trouble if one decided to go left and the other decided to go right.
Yoked together—they were obligated to work as one.
Jesus said, “Obligate yourself to Me!” don’t just come to Me, Commit yourself to Me—
That all sounds so perfectly reasonable this side of two millenniums later. What we need to remember is that He wasn’t the first person to try to recruit a following. Jesus wasn’t the first person to come along with “ideas” about change and ask people to commit to Him. There was always some zealot out there stirring things up and the Pharisees were always adding to the burdens of the people. And so, Jesus immediately qualifies His invitation, “…learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,”
It wasn’t just “believe in me” “back me” “trust me” “join me”. Jesus wasn’t pushing His religion on people; we aren’t just called to follow Him—we’re invited first to note that He is different. He wasn’t harsh, overbearing and legalistic like the Pharisees. Nor was He a lawless, joyless renegade like the zealots. His truly was a new gospel.
Step 1 – Come to me
Step 2 – Commit to me
Step 3 – Carry with Me
Carry With ME
Jesus ends this little talk with verse 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown write, (They are Bible scholars, not lawyers.) They write…
Matchless paradox… That rest, which the soul experiences when once safe under Christ's wing, makes all yokes easy, all burdens light.
Wycliffe agrees, The obligations involved in the Gospel are blessed ones,” but Wycliffe adds, “…and strength to bear them is supplied with the yoke.”
I read that a farmer would often pair untrained oxen (young ones) up with a more experienced (and I guess bigger) oxen. The experienced one would do pretty much all the work of carrying the yoke and give direction as to where to go, while the young ox would practically be cruising along for the ride. So, when Jesus calls us to take His yoke, He intends to share the load!
In He explains, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;”
Help to carry life’s load and Christ’s mission!
Power… we, the Church, talk about it all the time—but I fear we live like we only believe it part of the time… we live as if Transformation, becoming the people God intends for us to be is something that even His power can’t handle! Shame on us! God can soften the most stubborn heart, give patience to the most restless of us, teach love to the hard-hearted and self control to…the…well maybe He can’t do that. Of course, He can!
This week I got invited to play golf—in a couple months. In golf the idea is to hit a little ball over and over again until you finally get it into the little hole some ridiculous distance from where you started. And then do it again 17 more times. Every time you hit the ball it is a stroke and you count them. The idea is to use as few strokes as possible. For me, on a good day—that’s about 100 strokes (unless I’m honest)
There is a golf match called a best ball scramble which is usually played with four on a team. In a scramble, all four players hit the ball—but then they choose the best ball and they all hit their next shot from that spot. All 18 holes are played like that.
With the help of three friends whose game is more or less like mine—my score drops from 100 to about 70. taking the yoke of Christ means He’s on your foursome! You get to play from where He plays.
Power…next to salvation…it’s the most exciting part of Christianity. It’s what separates us from false religions and philosophies.
Jesus said in “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
The Apostle Paul concludes the third chapter of Ephesians (3:20-21) with this little benediction…
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKS WITHIN US, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
In our passage this morning, Jesus says basically, Come TO Me, Commit TO Me, but Carry WITH Me.
Someone has said, “One of the great paradoxes of the Christian life is that we find freedom by submitting ourselves to Christ's yoke.”
“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.”
Rest…Jesus doesn’t mean a nap…perhaps the better word would be relief.
It’s the greatest invitation ever given…
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