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The Road to Recovery

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The Road to Recovery from thinking that we have life all figured out, to where God wants us: recognizing our own inability, exhausted and seeking rest, is the road to Christ. The path on this road is the path of: 1) Faith (Matthew 11:28a), 2) Repentance and Rest (Matthew 11:28b) and finally: 3) Submission (Matthew 11:29-30).

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Matthew 11:28-30. "The Road to Recovery" Safe Haven Worship Centre. Sunday August 18th, 2019. Matthew 11:28–30 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV) There are many reasons why people come to Canada. Some come for economic prospects. Some come to be reunited with family that has preceded them, and some come to avoid brutal conditions in the land that they just left. A common story over the past several decades has involved those who travel to Canada by boat from countries like Vietnam to Sri Lanka, to avoid persecution and the past civil wars. They seek to recover their lives free from persecution and turmoil. But why do people come to Jesus? Elsewhere in scripture we can understand the process from God's workings through election, regeneration, and drawing people unto himself (Rom. 8), but what about what can be seen from the human perspective? In Matthew 11, Jesus speaks about the revelation of truth about how the Father can be known only through the Son. Now this special revelatory role of the Son is expressed in a direct invitation to find the solution to life’s problems by coming to Jesus (France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (447). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication). When someone has come to the end of the road, and they have no other options, what do they do? The Road to Recovery from thinking that we have life all figured out, to where God wants us: recognizing our own inability, exhausted and seeking rest, is the road to Christ. The path on this road is the path of: 1) Faith (Matthew 11:28a), 2) Repentance and Rest (Matthew 11:28b) and finally: 3) Submission (Matthew 11:29-30) Seeking Christ on "The Road to Recovery", involves: 1) Faith (Matthew 11:28a) Matthew 11:28a [28] Come to me, (all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest). (ESV) Just as these words are found in Matthew alone, there is only one road to recovery from death to life. Come to me carries on with the thought that it is Jesus only who has access to the Father and to the resources of the Father. It is because He is the only one who knows the Father and because only those to whom He reveals the Father will have knowledge of Him that it is so important to give heed to his invitation (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (295). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.). Please turn to John 6 The object of faith is not a church, a creed, or a clergyman, but (Jesus said Come to me) come to the living Christ. Salvation is in a Person (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Mt 11:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.) Notice as well he did not say, “Come to my teaching” or “Come to my miracles.” but “Come to me.” This is more than being impressed that He was a good moral teacher, or performed mighty deeds (Weber, S. K. (2000). Vol. 1: Matthew. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (169). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.). The emphasis was on personal relationship, not on doctrinal content or ritual only (Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 9: The First Christian Primer: Matthew. Study Guide Commentary Series (102). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.). What then does it mean to come to Jesus? John 6:35-47 [35] Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. [36] But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. [37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. [40] For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." [41] So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." [42] They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" [43] Jesus answered them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. [44] No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. [45] It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me-- [46] not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. [47] Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (ESV) • The reason we are to come to Jesus in faith is because he is the Bread of Life: in that, He alone nourishes people spiritually and satisfies the deep spiritual longings of their souls (6:35). • Once people come to Jesus in faith, they will realize that behind their willing decision to come and believe lies the mysterious, invisible work of the Father who all along was drawing them to Christ. (Romans 9; Eph. 1:3–6) Jesus statement (6:44) implies that no human being in the world, on their own, has the moral and spiritual ability to come to Christ unless God the Father first draws them, that is, gives them the desire and inclination to come and the ability to place trust in Christ (ESV Study Bible. Crossway Publications. 2001.) Illustration: Faith is only as good as its object. A small boy in England was asked by a scientific team to be lowered down the side of a cliff to recover some important specimens. Though the scientists offered to pay him greatly, the boy said no. They tried to persuade him further and he consented finally, but only on one condition—that his father would be the one to hold the ropes by which he would be lowered (Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). • To come to Jesus, is to know who we have faith in. Seeking Christ on "The Road to Recovery", also involves: 2) Repentance and Rest (Matthew 11:28b) Matthew 11:28b [28] (Come to me), all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (ESV) The “all” referred to here means that the invitation to repentance and the resulting rest is universal—none of the troubled are omitted. Jesus is not speaking about work but about need. … Jesus is calling anyone who is wearied with life’s burdens (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (295). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.) All who indicates a condition that already exists. Those whom Jesus invites to Himself are those who already labor or are weary and heavy-laden. From a human observational stand point, what drives an individual to God? Kopiaō (to grow weary, or “to labor”) carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. Labor or weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively the internal exhaustion of arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who labors and is heavy-laden despairs of their own ability to please God. Although this aspect of Jesus’ invitation is mentioned after faith (“Come to Me”), chronologically it precedes faith, referring to the repentance that drives the humble, seeking person to Christ for salvation. In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must first admit that they are burdened with the weight of their sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is preceded by repentance toward God (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Mt 11:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.). Heavy-laden translates a perfect passive participle, indicating that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person. Whereas labor or weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness. This load represents all those who have let others load them down with what the latter think will secure salvation. These terms really apply to all, for none have true rest save those who come to Christ. All the vain, fruitless striving after peace, contentment, happiness, rest, and joy, which is found the world over, is this constant laboring.... Then the suffering, unrest, trouble, fear, grief, pain, an evil conscience, against which (people) rebel so vainly, adds to the labor and the load. In endless variety... (Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel (456–457). Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House.) In Jesus’ day, the rabbinical teachings had become so massive, demanding, and all-encompassing that they prescribed standards and formulas for virtually every human activity. It was all but impossible even to learn all the traditions, and was completely impossible to keep them all. Jesus spoke of the heavy loads of religious tradition that the scribes and Pharisees: Matthew 23:4 [4] They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. (ESV) • The scribes and Pharisees are accused of making the people carry ‘heavy burdens’ by their legalistic demands. Scribal religion was meant to honor God, but its effect was to condemn the ordinary Jew to hard labor. Likewise, at the Jerusalem Council, Peter noted that the Judaizers were trying to saddle Christianity with the same man-made “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10). (France, R. T. (1985). Vol. 1: Matthew: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (204). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.) • Religion, is dictating activities that you must or must not do that explicitly go beyond the mandates of Scripture. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in their own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by their own efforts. The rest in mind is the rest that enables the worker to go back to the task with renewed vigor. (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 295). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.) Anapauō (to give … rest) means to refresh or revive, as from labor or a long journey. Jesus promises spiritual rest to everyone who comes to Him in repentance and humble faith. Notice that rest here is a gift (give you); it is unearned and unmerited. This is the rest of salvation that comes from realizing that Christ finished the work of redemption on Calvary’s cross. It is the rest of conscience that follows the realization that the penalty of one’s sins has been paid once for all and that God will not demand payment twice (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Mt 11:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.). Such rest is not only negatively absence from uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and despair; positively it is peace of mind and heart (Ps. 125:1; Isa. 26:3; 43:2; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1); as well as assurance of salvation (II Cor. 5:1; II Tim. 1:12; 4:7, 8; II Peter 1:10, 11) The rest—peace of heart and mind—which Jesus here provides is the very opposite of the aggravated mental stress that sends so many people to doctors, hospitals, and death. Absence of peace, whether in the form of anxiety or of rancor and vindictiveness (the lust to “get even”), may lead to ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc. The teachings of Christ, if taken to heart, have a curative effect on the entire person, soul and body. (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 9: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. New Testament Commentary (504). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.). The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, rest is described as freedom from that which wearies or disturbs. Again, we see the spiritual parallel of God’s giving His children freedom from the cares and burdens that rob them of peace and joy. Third, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is to be freed from the uncertainties of running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from guru to guru, hoping somehow and somewhere to discover truth, peace, happiness, and eternal life. Fourth, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that: Philippians 1:6 [6]And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV) Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Eph. 2:8-9 clearly specifies that it is “by grace” we “are saved through faith” which is “not of ourselves it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone may boast”. It is by His grace, that God enables repentance and faith which results in the assurance of salvation, or rest. This is His work of justification. Please turn to Hebrews 3 The Israelites who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness were denied entrance into the Promised Land because of unbelief Ps. 95:7–9, 11, so those who refuse to fully trust in Christ are denied entrance into God’s kingdom rest of salvation for the same reason (Heb. 3:19). Notice how the Author of Hebrews explains this. Telling them God’s words: Hebrews 3:11-12 [11]As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'" [12] Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (ESV) • This is not losing salvation but turning away from God, the source of salvation. "PLEASE TURN OVER TO HEBREWS 4" Hebrews 4:1-3 [4:1] Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. [2] For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. [3] For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,' "although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. (ESV) Illustration: (Christ’s Offer of Rest) The driver of a caribou wagon was on his way to market when he overtook an old man carrying a heavy load. Taking compassion on him, the driver invited the old man to ride in the wagon. Gratefully the old man accepted. After a few minutes, the driver turned to see how the man was doing. To his surprise, he found him still straining under the heavy weight, for he had not taken the burden off his shoulders (Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.). • To come to Christ and attempt to continue to bear our own load is as foolish as this old man who accepted a ride but tried to still carry the load. Finally, seeking Christ on "The Road to Recovery", involves: 3) Submission (Matthew 11:29-30) Matthew 11:29-30 [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (ESV) Verse 28 affirms the doctrine of justification while verse 29 affirms progressive sanctification. Jesus is inviting people to follow him, to serve him, and to learn from him. In the New Testament yoke is always used metaphorically and signifies bondage or submission to authority of some kind. (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 296). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.) A yoke was made of wood, hand-cut to fit the neck and shoulders of the particular animal that was to wear it in order to prevent chafing. For obvious reasons, the term was widely used in the ancient world as a metaphor for submission. The yoke was part of the harness used to pull a cart, plow, or mill beam and was the means by which the animal’s master kept it under control and guided it in useful work. A student was often spoken of as being under the yoke of his teacher, and an ancient Jewish writing contains the advice: “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.” The yoke Jesus asks us to take upon ourselves might be defined as the whole Christian life and hope. Once we have assumed that yoke, God’s commandments are no longer a heavy burden that weighs us down and destroys us. Instead, they are expressions of God’s will in which we delight, for we look for ways to express our thanks to God for the blessings of his grace. Crosses we are called upon to bear on account of our loyalty to our Savior are faith-strengthening experiences, for they help us understand what Christ endured for us, and we have our Lord’s promise that He will give us the strength to endure them and that He will make them channels for all kinds of blessings. The more faithfully we follow Christ, the easier His yoke and the lighter his burden becomes (Albrecht, G. J., & Albrecht, M. J. (1996). Matthew. The People's Bible (171). Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House.). Like the yoke that couples oxen together, discipleship does not exempt one from work but makes it manageable (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 194). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) That is the particular meaning Jesus seems to have had in mind here, because He adds, and learn from Me. Manthanō (to learn) is closely related to mathētēs (disciple, or learner) and reinforces the truth that Christ’s disciples are His submissive learners. They submit to Christ’s lordship for many reasons, among the most important of which is to be taught by Him through His Word. A yoke symbolizes obedience, and Christian obedience includes learning from Christ. To learn here is to “learn through instruction.” To be a follower of Jesus is to be a disciple and therefore a learner. It is not enough to indicate that one would like to be a follower of Jesus; to commit oneself to him means to commit oneself to a learning process (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (296). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.). • His path of humble service is the pattern for us to follow. So much of our fatigue and burdensome toil stems from pride. If we are successful, our egos are inflated and we try for more. If we falter, the rejection of others and our self-condemnation weigh us down in guilt and self-doubt. (Barton, B. B. (1996). Matthew (p. 230). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.) Because Jesus is gentle and lowly or humble in heart, He gives rest, not weariness, to the souls of those who submit to Him and do His work. This promise is borrowed from Jer. 6:16, for Christ delighted to express himself in the language of the prophets, to show the harmony between the two Testaments (Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Mt 11:25–30). Peabody: Hendrickson.). and this is the only self-description of Christ in Scripture (Willmington, H. L. (1997). Willmington's Bible handbook (531). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.). Please turn to 2 Corinthians 4 The “rest” Jesus offers is not a relaxation of the demands of righteousness (see 5:20), but a new relationship with God which makes it possible to fulfill them. It is not the removal of any yoke, but a new and “kind” yoke which makes the burdens “light.” (France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (449). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.) Paradoxically those who take Christ’s yoke on them have rest, rest now and eternal rest in the hereafter. (Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 297). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.) Christians are not promised freedom from illness or calamity, but they (can) experience God’s sustaining grace so that they are not crushed or driven to despair. This is how Paul explained the provision to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 [8]We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; [9]persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (ESV) "KEEP YOUR PLACE IN 2 CORINTHIANS" • The rest Jesus offers his disciples enables them to overcome a certain measure of “fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and meaninglessness in the joy and peace of God’s very presence in Jesus Christ.”( F. Stagg, “Matthew,” in The Broadman Bible Commentary, vol. 8, ed. C. J. Allen (Nashville: Broadman, 1969), 145.) Finally, in verse 30 we see how His yoke is easy, and His burden or load is light. His yoke chrēstos, has a wide range of meaning—good, helpful, kind, profitable (Lewis, W. S., & Booth, H. M. (1892). Matthew (p. 265). New York; London; Toronto: Funk & Wagnalls Company.) or “well fitting.” (Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (p. 109). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.) His burden is not like that of Pharaoh, who bitterly oppressed the children of Israel, or like that of the scribes and Pharisees, who burdened the Jews of Jesus’ day with a grievous legalism. Christ will never oppress us or give us a burden too heavy to carry. His yoke has nothing to do with the demands of works or law, much less those of human tradition. The Christian’s work of obedience to Christ is joyful and happy. Jesus did not escape the hard life, but he could experience rest and refreshment in its midst. Christians are not promised freedom from illness or calamity, but they may experience God’s sustaining grace so that they are not crushed or driven to despair (2 Cor 4:8–9). (Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 194). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) • Jesus doesn’t offer you a lawn chair and soda—the yoke is still an oxen’s tool for working hard. But it’s a special kind of yoke, with weight falling on bigger shoulders than yours. Someone with more pulling power is up front helping. Suddenly you’re sharing life’s responsibilities with a great Partner—and now that frown is turning into a smile, and that gripe into a song. (Barton, B. B. (1996). Matthew (p. 230). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.) John explains: 1 John 5:3 [3] For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (ESV) Jesus is not calling people to lives of careless ease. But it is service for which they will be glad. It will be a delight, not a painful drudgery. What can be lighter than a burden which unburdens us and a yoke which bears its bearer?”(Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (298). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.). God’s presence (Isa. 43:2), Christ’s sympathy (Isa. 73:9, Dan. 3:25), and especially the Spirit’s aids and comforts (2 Co. 1:5), make suffering for Christ light and easy (Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Mt 11:25–30). Peabody: Hendrickson.). Paul knew as much of it as any man, and he calls it a light affliction, 2 Corinthians 4:17 [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, (ESV) (Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. (1989). Matthew (275). Chicago: Moody Press.)
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