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The Savior's Tender Invitation

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I. Title: The Savior’s Tender Invitation

A.   Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV) 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 was your good pleasure. 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. 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.”[1]

II. In verses 25 and 27, Jesus revealed his relationship with God the Father. He is showing how the character of the Father was revealed in himself and how he, as the Son, represented the Father’s sovereign authority.[2]

A.   Jesus thanks his heavenly Father for revealing spiritual truth to the childlike and for hiding it from those who think themselves wise.[3]

1. In Jewish tradition it is not those who are wise in their own eyes and lean on their own understanding that are genuinely wise; the truly wise are those who simply start with the fear of the Lord.

a)     Proverbs 3:5-8 (NIV)5     Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6     in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.a7     Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8     This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. [4]

b)    Psalm 111:10 (NIV)10     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. [5]

c)     Jesus declares that true discipleship can be enjoyed only by those who come to Him in childlike faith.

(1)  God, in His good pleasure, had hidden the great mysteries of His wise dealings from the wise and learned (the leaders of that day) but had revealed them to little children.
(2)  This was possible because God the Son and God the Father know each other perfectly in the intimacy of the Trinity.[6]

d)    It is the prayer of every pastor, preacher, and teacher that the message would penetrate the hearts of the hearers. We surely hope that we are the communicators that we need to be, but there is also a special dynamic in the case for the Gospel.

(1)  1 Corinthians 1:21 (NIV)21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. [7]
(2)  We must lay aside the wisdom of the world to hear the simple truth of the Gospel.

B.   Jesus continues to describe the uniqueness of the relationship He has with His Father.

1. He says that only He can fully know His Father.

a)    The Greek word “ginó̄skō” means to know fully through experience; to recognize a thing to be what it really is.

b)    The only way Jesus could fully know the Father is to have been with the Father, which Jesus has always been.

2. Based on this unique relationship, Jesus is qualified to offer the invitation to receive rest and have burdens lifted.

3. More exactly, He is the only one who may offer such an invitation.

I. Introduction

A.   Illustrations

1. A four-year-old and a six-year-old presented their mom with a houseplant.
They had used their own money to buy it and she was thrilled.
The older of them said with a sad face, "There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you. It was real pretty but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said ‘Rest In Peace,’ and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest.

2. I love the “Peanuts” characters and comic strip, probably because I can so easily relate to Charlie Brown. In one of his strips, Charlie visits Lucy at her psychology booth, and she gives him this advice: “Life is a lot like a deck chair. Some place it to see where they have been, and some so they can see where they are at the present.” To which Charlie sighs, and says: “I can’t even get mine unfolded.”
Do you feel a little like that today? Burnt out? Used up? Worked over?
Someone recently said: “Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.”
And another put it this way: “The trouble with life is that it is so daily!”
James Dobson calls the daily grind – the straight life. He describes it this way:
“The straight life for a homemaker is washing dishes three hours a day; it is cleaning sinks and scouring toilets and waxing floors; it is chasing toddlers and mediating fights between preschool siblings. . . . The straight life is driving your station wagon to school and back 23 times per week; it is grocery shopping and baking cupcakes for the class Halloween party. The straight life eventually means becoming the parent of an ungrateful teenager which I assure you is no job for sissies. (It’s difficult to let your adolescent find himself – especially when you know he isn’t even looking!)
The straight life . . . is pulling your tired frame out of bed, five days a week, fifty weeks out of the year. It is earning a two-week vacation in August, and choosing a trip that will please the kids. The straight life is coping with head colds and engine tune-ups and crab grass and income-tax forms.”
It wears us out even thinking about how much there is to do, and how little time to do it. I’m tired just thinking about it. How about you?
All of this stress leads many of us to adopt other alternatives to satisfy us and give us some relief.

B.    We are very much like the story I read about a Richard Armstrong and Edward Watkin tell the story of a biologist’s experiment with "processional caterpillars." On the rim of a clay pot that held a plant, he lined them up so that the leader was head-to-head with the last caterpillar. The tiny creatures circled the rim of the pot for a full week. Not once did any one of them break away to go over to the plant and eat. Eventually, all caterpillars died from exhaustion and starvation. The story of the processional caterpillars is a kind of parable of human behavior. People are reluctant to break away from the rhythmic pattern of daily life. They don’t want to be different. We must break away from the crowd, however, if we are to accept Jesus’ invitation of rest for the soul. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited  

C.   Charles Spurgeon said “The message of our gospel is the gentle word, "come." Our Lord says, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." The law says, "Go and do." The law says, "Go and take heed to your path in which you walk. Break the commandments and perish; keep them and live." The law drives men with a whip; Christ draws men with bands of love. The law repels; the gospel attracts. Christ is the good shepherd who goes before His sheep and says, "Come, I will give you rest."

D.   In the text for our study today, we find a wonderful invitation extended by Jesus.

1. These are words that have brought comfort to the millions and millions of people who have answered this compelling invitation.

2. I would like for us to examine more closely this invitation that Jesus is making here and consider several thoughts about this invitation.

II. Who is invited?

A.   It is offered to “All who are weary and burdened.

1. The most important word is the smallest. The word “all” means there are no exceptions. It indicates that the invitation is offered to everyone.

a)    It means that there is no sin that He will not forgive.

(1)  Jesus absolutely hates sin to the max.
(2)  Jesus absolutely loves the sinner to the max
(3)  Romans 5:8 says, Romans 5:8 (NIV) 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [8]

b)    It means that you cannot be bad enough that He will not love you.

c)     It means when all the world has turned its back on you, Jesus will never.

(1)  God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb. 13:5
(2)  Jesus knows what it feels like when the world turns its back on you, it happened to Him on the Cross.

2. The invitation is for all who will recognize and admit that they are hurting and are weary and tired and beaten down.

a)    To admit that you need help is a problem for many people.

b)    To admit that you need rest is a problem for many.

B.   The Greek word for “weary” means “to be beaten.”

1. The idea is that a person is worn out from the demands of work and toil.

2. Have you ever been so tired that you couldn’t even rest?

a)    Our culture demands productivity on every turn.

b)    From kindergarten to retirement, we are expected to produce more and more every day.

c)     Along with production are the difficulties and struggles of life.

d)    It is easy to see why we become weary and burdened.

3. Emotional Weariness

a)    Some of us lack peace in our lives, we worry about not having anything to worry about, we worry about our worst fears coming true, and we doubt that anything good can come to our lives!

b)    Corrie Ten Boom once wrote: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows, it empties today of strength!”

c)     It’s like the woman who worried for 40 years that she might die of cancer. She finally died of pneumonia at age 70, but she had wasted 40 years of her life worrying about the wrong thing!

d)    Emotional Weariness will wear us down.

4. Physical Weariness

a)    There are also physical stresses that exhaust us!

(1)   Not enough sleep, too little exercise, poor nutrition, too much noise and hurrying about, trying to fit 2 or 3 things into the same space of time.
(2)  We can do a great deal of damage to our bodies, and because we are whole people, in other words because we are body, soul and spirit – our physical exhaustion can lead us down a path of emotional depression or despair and spiritual apathy.

5. Spiritual Weariness

a)    The weight of sin and the struggle to overcome its hold upon our life can lead us into a time of great spiritual exhaustion.

b)    This last stress is one that we at times do not fully appreciate, but I believe it is one Jesus was directly speaking about in this passage.

c)     John Bunyan in his classic work “A pilgrims Progress” describes the moment when his character “Christian” is freed from the weight of sin that he has been carrying around on his back throughout his journeys. He comes to the cross and at the foot of the cross is an empty tomb and as He approaches the cross the burden falls off his back and is swallowed up by the tomb.

d)    We all know of this burden of sin and how it can wear us down!

6. The Greek word for “burden” refers to the freight of a ship.

a)    The idea is that a person is carrying such a large load that they sink deeper into the murky water as a loaded ship sinks into the water when heavily loaded.

b)    If you will notice on a barge or a ship there is usually a painted line along the hull of that indicates the maximum amount of load it can carry.

c)     We sometimes get loaded up with things that seem to bury us and sink us into the valley’s of despair and depression.

(1)  Un-confessed sin will burden us.
(2)  There is a weariness of trying to live a good life in one’s own strength and energy.
(a)    You fail time and time and time again – and that can really drag you down!
(b)   That is really what he is referring to when He uses the word: BURDENED.
(3)  Problems and difficulties at work, at home, or in the family will burden us.
(4)  Financial issues will burden us.
(5)  Sickness and health issues will burden us.

d)    The world is looking for rest from all the demands that are imposed.

(1)  Life has become much, much more complicated
(2)  Luxuries have become necessities
(3)  Everything is bigger and more expensive than ever.
(4)  The measurement of success is based on how big your home is, how many vehicles you have in the driveway, what kind of boat you own, and the list goes on and on.
(5)  Government is now run based on poll results and rumors rather than what is best for the nation.
(6)  We all feel the crunch of time, money, and overwork. 

7. Sadly, many are too proud to admit their burden.

a)    Too proud to admit that they are sinners

b)    Too proud to admit that they are enslaved by problems and difficulties

c)     Too proud to admit that they need Divine help to be freed from the burden of sin, or even trying to live a right life in one’s own power.

III. What is offered?

A.   Jesus offers Rest.

1. The Greek word for “rest” means to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.[9]

2. A.W. Tozer said that Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is his method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. The rest Christ offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief which comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend. It will take some courage at first, but the needed grace will come as we learn that we are sharing in this new and easy yoke with the strong Son of God Himself.”

3. Rest is what we need when we are weary and burdened. But where and how to get that rest is difficult.

a)    When there are burdens and weariness, sleep will not come.

b)    Ignoring the burdens will not make them go away

c)     Some may try to drink their problems away

d)    Others try to escape in a drug induced stupor.

e)     But Jesus provides us the answer to finding rest from our burdens and weariness.

B.   Jesus said “come to me”

1. He is the One that will give us rest in our Salvation.

2. He is the One that will give us rest in our desolation

3. He is the One that will give us rest in our affliction

4. He is the One that will give us rest in our Meditation.

5. He is the One that will give us rest as our Medication

6. He is the One that will give us rest as our Consolation

IV. Jesus tells us that we will find rest by becoming “yoked” with him.

A.   A yoke was a wooden frame placed on the backs of oxen to make them pull in tandem. The simple yokes consisted of a bar with two loops either of rope or wood that went around the animals’ necks.[10]

1. Oxen were commonly yoked together to pull a plow in the fields or to pull a wagon or cart somewhere.

2. The Yoke is a symbol of work.

B.   Tired workers need refreshment and renewal); Jesus equates the Christian life with spiritual rest.

1. Like the yoke that couples oxen together, discipleship does not exempt one from work but makes it manageable.

2. Jews commonly spoke of taking on the yoke of the Torah to refer to the acceptance of the stipulations of the law. But, as the Sermon on the Mount has made plain, Jesus calls people not to the law but to himself.[11]

3. Acts 15:10-11 (NIV) 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” [12]

C.   No human religion can give peace to the heart. Christ offers a yoke that is easy in contrast to the grinding, binding yoke of the law (Acts 15:10). Note the double use of the word “rest” (NKJV). “I will give you rest”—this is the peace with God that comes with salvation. “You will find rest”—this is the peace of God that comes with surrender (see Phil. 4:6–9). [13]

D.   The question we must ask is to whom are we yoked?

1.  We can become yoked to many things that make us weary and burdened.

a)    Sin

b)    Debt

c)     Money

d)    Job

e)     Family

f)      Material possessions

2. Jesus is the only one who will give us rest.

E.   As Christians throw off the yoke of the flesh, the world and the lies of the devil, they find that Jesus’ yoke is easy and fashioned just for them to make them Christ-like. Jesus said “My yoke is easy.” (Matthew 11:30) “Easy” (chrestos) means well fitting. It is not harsh or galling nor will it put a callous on the spiritual heart.

1. As Christians carry their cross they must bear and lay their burdens into the hands of Jesus Christ and allow what He is taking them through to mold them into His image. They will find that the yoke He puts on them is easy.

V. Learn of Me

A.   The first two commands represent a crisis as we come and yield to Christ; but this step is into a process.

B.    As we learn more about Him, we find a deeper peace, because we trust Him more.

C.   Life is simplified and unified around the person of Christ.

VI. Isn’t it about time that we get yoked with Jesus and get the burdens lifted and weariness relieved?

A.   In this Christmas Season, let us not be burdened by the world, but let us take up our cross, put on the yoke of Christ, and learn more of Him. He is the One that will carry us though every burden and every struggle we encounter.


[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[2]Robert B. Hughes, J. Carl Laney and Robert B. Hughes, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed. of: New Bible Companion. 1990.; Includes Index., The Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 407.

[3]H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Mt 11:25-26.

a  Or will direct your paths

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[5]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[6]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 2:45.

[7]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[8]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[9]James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996), G373.

[10]James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible, "Rewritten and Updated by Harold J. Chadwick"--Cover.; Includes Index., Rev. ed.]. (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 434.

[11]Craig Blomberg, vol. 22, Matthew, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 194.

[12]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[13]Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1997, c1992), 47.

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