- Sermon Notes
Find Rest for Your Soul
As we continue our study from where we were two weeks ago in Matthew 11, I want to highlight verse 17 where Jesus said, “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.” Jesus did not come to dance for those who would play the flute. In other words, God did not send His Son so that He might respond to us, but that we should respond to Him.
An example of that would be in the following verses where Jesus spoke against the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not respond.
Then, from verse 25 and following, Jesus spoke of the wonderful blessings that would come to us when we came to Him because we were responding to His invitation to change our lives. The central theme of that is found in verses 28-30. “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Immediately we see that Jesus is speaking directly to where we are. Everyone can hear those words and identify with them. How many people are weary and heavy-laden?
It's important to understand that Jesus is not referring to physical weariness or tiredness, though we will see that spoken to in the next chapter. Here, Jesus is speaking of the rest that we need in the soul. Physical exhaustion is certainly a burden and in our fast-paced world many people are constantly exhausted. And our bodies are constantly working. In one 24-hour period your heart will be more than 100,000 times and it pumps almost 2,000 gallons of blood 2 1/2 ounces at a time. How much energy do we spend just talking? If you're a man… you speak about 4,800 words in a day. If you're a woman… 7-8,000 words in a day. No wonder we’re exhausted.
No, our greatest burden is not our physical exhaustion; it's the trouble within the soul. Jesus promised that He would give rest for our souls. That's our greatest need. Most people, when they consider the troubles of their soul want to blame everyone around them. But our trouble is not in the horizontal, it's in the vertical, it's in our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. That's our greatest need and that's what Jesus gives as the greatest answer.
I. Come and Find Rest
- These verses at the end of chapter 11 are often quoted because they are so personal and so powerful because they reveal God's heart towards us through His Son Jesus Christ.
- When we look at them carefully we find that there is such clarity to God's invitation here to receive one of His greatest promises.
A. All who are weary; come to Jesus
- This so clearly shows us God's heart when He invites all who are weary, troubled, and heavy laden to come to Him.
- He sees our condition and He's the one doing something about it. He's the one who can carry the burden and he knows that without Him we have no hope and we have no help.
1 Peter 5:7, … casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Ephesians 2:12, Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ… strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, but now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- This is such an important key to what Jesus is saying; that our help comes from drawing near to Him. This is about a relationship that God is offering us through His Son.
- Jesus is offering something the world can never give. In the world there is emptiness, death, loneliness, despair, but in Christ there is rest for our souls.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
B. Take His yoke upon you
- A yoke was a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircled the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together.
- There was a yoke for a person to use by himself, a shoulder yoke was sometimes used for carrying two pails of water, for example. That's not what Jesus is referring to here.
- The picture that we get is of a person who is yoked to the world; burdened, troubled and agitated. The yoke doesn't fit, it hurts, it chafes, and it makes us weary and exhausted.
- The insight we also get is that we make many troubles and burdens for ourselves by how we live our lives. But the greatest burden of all is the burden of our sin and it is a burden we simply cannot carry.
- Jesus offers to give us rest for our souls when he offers his yoke in exchange for ours.
2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- This is very difficult for many people to accept because man is not the hero of the story; God is.
Illus - There was a movie in the 80s called The Mission that powerfully captures the way many people think of their burdens. The movie is about a slave trader in South America named Rodrigo Mendoza who is hard and cold of heart. When he finds his brother in bed with his fiancée he kills his brother and falls into despair. Finally, he turns to Father Gabriel, a Jesuit priest, who suggests the penance of carrying a net filled with his armor and weapons and scaling the mighty Iguazu Falls… Here's the problem; he's the hero and he carries his own burden.
- Jesus’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. What is His yoke? It's doing the will of His Father.
Illus – Jesus could have been the greatest artist, or musician, or architect, or builder; He had the ability. But God asked him to do none of those things. He was about “His Father’s business” of making Him known.
C. Learn of Him
- This is clearly part of finding rest for our souls. Jesus said that we should learn from Him because He is gentle and humble in heart. That's what we need to find rest for our souls.
- But notice what Jesus said in verse 25, that God hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them unto babes.
- That's because the “wise and intelligent” are those who think they are wise and intelligent and they aren't teachable. They cannot receive anything; they only want to reveal their own minds.
Proverbs 18:2, A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.
- To learn of Him means to hunger for His character, His heart, and His Spirit; that truly is a yoke that is easy, a burden that is light, and rest for our souls.
Illus - many people think of religion as a great burden, in fact religion is a great burden, but relationship to Jesus Christ brings rest and peace.
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- If we truly had the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, that would not be a burden, it would be rest for our souls.
- He reveals these truths to babes, but is also committed to changing us into His likeness.
Ephesians 4:12-13, …the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
II. Find Rest and Truly Live
- When we turn to chapter 12 it may at first appear that we have changed the topic, but we haven't at all. The topic of the Sabbath is in fact the revealing of what it means to truly rest.
A. Sabbath was made for man
- The chapter begins with the Pharisees accusing Jesus that His disciples were breaking the Sabbath because they had picked heads of grain and ate them while passing through the grain fields.
- They were confronting Jesus and so He responded by confronting them. The very thing that God had given to the people of Israel as a sign between them to bless them and give them rest, had become instead a great burden the Pharisees and Jewish leaders were laying upon the people.
- First, we need to understand that it was a sign given between God and the sons of Israel.
Exodus 31:17, “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
- Second, we also need to see that what God meant for their blessing, they had turned into a burden.
Mark 2:27, Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
- Jesus spoke strongly of what he thought of what the Jewish leaders had done with the Word of God…
Matthew 23:4, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
- They had turned the Sabbath into such a crushing burden, and then defined relationship to God according to whether they could carry this terrible burden.
Illus – Today in Israel there our Sabbath elevators that stop in every floor so you don't have to push a button on the Sabbath… You can't drive a car; that would be kindling a fire… You cannot eat eggs that were laid on the Sabbath… You cannot spit in the dirt; that would be furrowing; you can spit on a rock, however. According to the Talmud there were 39 ways to break the Sabbath and each of those 39 ways had 39 ways within them. There were 24 chapters about ways you could break the Sabbath.
- The Sabbath was not just to be a day to rest from our physical labor, it is a day to be restored and refreshed in our relationship to God.
- It's a day to, “Come unto Me and learn of Me and to find rest for our souls.”
B. Be diligent to enter into rest
- Stop striving, stop carrying your own burdens, and find the rest that comes from being in a relationship to God through Jesus Christ.
- Don't come to church as a way to fulfill the legal requirements that you think God expects. Come as a way to find life, to receive from Him.
- Stop all the “doing” and wait on the Lord so that you will be filled with His life.
Ephesians 5:18-20, Be filled with the Spirit… singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
Isaiah 40:29, 31, He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might he increase his power… Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
- We come together and honor God on the first day of the week because it is the day of the resurrection. The resurrection is for us the way that we have found life and so it's very proper to honor God on the day we found life.
Romans 6:4-5, As Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
Matthew 11:20-12:14 NASB