Set Your Baggage Down
Everyone has baggage. Its a part of life. God doesn’t desire for us to stumble around life carrying this baggage on our own. In fact, he desires the exact opposite.
He wants us to bring our baggage to him so we can find rest. When we rest in Jesus, we begin to heal from our baggage. The good news is that our past doesn't disqualify us. It actually prepares us! God uses all things for the good of his people.
28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The imagery used in Matthew 11 is a yoke. A yoke is a heavy wooden bar that sits on the neck of an ox. This was so the ox could pull the weight of the plow behind. A yoke could also be shared between two oxen. The master ox bears the weight of the plow and eases the burden on the weaker ox.
Imagine the weight of discovering the truth that you don’t have to measure up! You don’t have to carry the weight of your past around with you!
In that agrarian culture, everyone knew that a yoke (11:29, 30) went across the necks of two beasts of burden, just in front of their shoulders, and connected them to the plow or wagon they were to pull. Under the covenant relationship, the believer is not relieved of all work or burden, but is given work that is appropriate to his abilities, within his limitations. In fact, the believer will find the work fulfilling and rewarding rather than toilsome and exhausting. Jesus’ yoke is easy (suitable, good, reasonable), and his burden is light (easy to bear, insignificant).
The Jewish people struggled under an enormous load of religious expectations and legalities that were laid on them by their false religious leaders.
Jesus was saying, “Come, take on yourself the light burden of obedience under the covenant I will seal with my own blood, and I will give you the covenant reward of deep-down, peaceful rest—freedom from guilt, the power of sin, and self-striving. If you continue carrying the heavy burden of works-oriented, self-serving Pharisaism, you will never find rest. You were designed by God to carry my load, not man’s”
Jesus instructed his followers to take my yoke at their own initiative. Jesus will not put it on us without our consent. But to refuse Jesus’ yoke is not to be burden-free, but to retain a much heavier burden. Everyone in life must carry a burden; the question is whether we will carry one that is within our capacity, or one heavier than we were designed for.
Something that I don’t want you to miss is the Greek:
Word Pictures in the New Testament (Matthew 11:28)
Come unto me (δευτε προς με [deute pros me]).
Verses 28 to 30 are not in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew’s Gospel. No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling and the burdened (πεφορτισμενοι [pephortismenoi], perfect passive participle, state of weariness) to come to him.
Then look at the statement: I will give you rest.
He towers above all men as he challenges us. “I will refresh you”
(κʼαγο ἀναπαυσω ὑμας [k’ago anapausō hūmas]).
Far more than mere rest, rejuvenation.
The English slang expression “rest up” is close to the idea of the Greek compound ἀνα-παυω [ana-pauō]. It is causative active voice.
So what is Jesus telling us today? We understand what he was dealing with in His time, he was dealing with about of Legalistic Jewish leaders who were pressing their rules and traditions on other people who wanted to “follow God.”
That may sound similar to what we deal with in many modern churches today but it goes deeper still.
Jesus was speaking to people who were not accepted by the religious crowd because of their own baggage.
A woman caught in adultery.
So yes, there is hope for us found in the very words of Jesus!
What happens when we come to Him and lay down our baggage?
I. By resting in Jesus, we find healing from our baggage.
I. By resting in Jesus, we find healing from our baggage.
To rest in Jesus doesn’t mean we sit on the couch and relax.
This rest is much deeper. This rest is to believe that God loves us and accepts us. We don’t have to measure up.
He’s not waiting for a future version of ourselves to love and delight in. He loves us right now!
If you’ve ever fallen and cut yourself, you know that its not fun. The deeper the cut the more urgent the care. One of the most important things when treating a cut is cleaning. A cut or wound left unattended will produce infection. This infections leads to all kinds of other problems that could’ve been prevented with proper cleaning.
However, cleaning though it sounds simple, isn’t. Cleaning out a cut or wound hurts. (Anyone else’s parent tell them the biggest lie in the world, that Hydrogen Peroxide wouldn’t hurt.) Anyways, Cleaning does all kinds of necessary things like killing germs, but it often is painful. It hurts, but it heals. Similarly, God desires to heal us. This healing often hurts, but it heals. You can’t change the fact that you have cuts, but you can heal!
Remember back to the woman with the blood issues in Luke 8. This woman had been carrying this burden for 12 long years.
If we were to put ourselves in her shoes, we could probably assume that she had explored every avenue of healing to no avail.
Robby Gallaty in his book the forgotten Jesus then explains it like this.
We imagine her crawling, bleeding, towards Jesus with 12 years worth of unsuccessful attempts to heal herself weighing heavily on her mind. She is desperate. But she has a glimmer of hope. Risking persecution from the thick crowd following Jesus, this woman throws all of her hope on the itinerant rabbi who had a reputation for miraculous healings. She reaches out as he passes and is able only to reach the very edge of his robe.
This is a very dramatic concept and would make for a great movie but it IS NOT WHAT TOOK PLACE.
Remember what I described a few weeks back The Hebrew Word kanaph - which is the word for both hem and wings.
We are then reminded that by reaching out for the hem of his garment, she was clinging to the promise of Malachi 4:2
2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall.
Friend whatever baggage you have been carrying, Bring it to Jesus, lay it down at His feet! Take His Yoke upon you and be healed!
You suffering from Pain and Loss…Bring it to Jesus!
You battling anger and bitterness…Bring it to Jesus!
You struggling at work, or school…Bring it to Jesus!
You struggling with who you used to be or things you have done in the past…Bring them to Jesus!
YOU STRUGGLING WITH ETERNITY AND YOUR UNWORTHINESS TO EXIST IN THE SAME HEAVEN AS A HOLY GOD…FRIEND, BRING IT TO JESUS!
You see when you finally bring your baggage to Jesus and give it to him, He gives you eternal life!
8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
II. Your Baggage doesn’t disqualify you. It prepares you.
II. Your Baggage doesn’t disqualify you. It prepares you.
Ask yourself, what opportunities do you have right now to use your life experiences for the good of others?
What ways might you even be able to use it right not in our church or in a ministry?
One pastor said it this way, “You can’t change your past, but God can change your future.”
Friend, your past does not determine who you are, it simply determines where you are! BUT FRIEND WHERE YOU ARE ISN’T WHERE YOU HAVE TO STAY AND MORE OVER GOD IS READY TO PUT YOU ON A NEW PATH!
ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ASK!
Jesus’ quote in 11:29 from Jeremiah 6:16 (“you will find rest for your souls”) further connects this blessing to a right covenant relationship with God. In Jeremiah 6, Jerusalem was experiencing disaster as a result of its disobedience. History was about to repeat itself. Here is the immediate context of Jesus’ quote: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it [comparable to Jesus’ “light burden”], and you will find rest for your souls [Jesus’ covenant promise]. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’ … Hear, O earth, I am bringing disaster on this people” (Jer. 6:16–20).
Your identity is not found in what you have done in the past but rather who you abide in today!
Friend, where do you abide today?
For many, when they hear the word abide, they think of rule following. For example, a law abiding citizen is someone who lives within the accordance the law. This means they don’t break the law, but follow the law in every way.
In Christianity, the word abide means something so much different. Christians don’t abide by the law (this doesn’t mean we don’f follow the law - we do), but to a person. And that person is Jesus!
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing
He goes on to say that when we abide in Him, what we desire will be done for us?
Why does Jesus say this?
Because He says in vs. 8, that when we abide in Him we are His disciples and this means that our desires change, we no longer desire what we want but rather what He wants!
When you abide in Him, you will seek out His path and friend he will take you past, take your baggage and cast away what He desires and then he will use the rest for His purpose!
Where you have been and what you have done has prepared you for what Jesus is going to do through you!
He is going to use your past for His purpose!
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
He knew you before He formed you!
He knew what you would do!
He knew who you would become!
Who you are, what you have done, He plans to use for His glory!
You see knowing all of this, He still chose to create you in His image, and to send His Son to die on the cross for you so that you could be justified in His sight!
All you have to do is surrender to Him!
Friend, you are loved by God in-spite of your baggage!
Pastor Tim Keller said, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be full known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
Mount Everest is earth’s highest mountain located in the Himalayas. It soars over 29,000 feet at its summit. For this reason, many people set out to scale the mountain. Needless to say, many fail. some have even died. Hikers have trained for up to a year before they even set foot on Everest. Now, imagine you attempt to climb Mount Everest with your suitcase. This would be impossible! Everest is nearly impossible to scale let alone if you’re lugging your suitcase around.
This might seem like a bizarre picture and yet this is the picture of every religion outside of Christianity. Sinful and messy humans beings setting out to find God at the top of a mountain. Every other world religion travels up the mountain in order to discover God. People have done it through meditation, thought, law, science, you name it. This is exhausting. No rest is to be found here.
What if this isn’t how God intended for things to be? What if God actually came to us? He does in Jesus! This is what separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. You don’t have to go to God, he comes to you! Not only does he come to you, he gives you rest. This isn’t just temporary rest, but rest for your soul.
Remember the Gospel! God carried our baggage so we wouldn’t have to. WE ARE FREE!
5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished him for the iniquity of us all.
Can I invite you to come today?