Gospel Quest Thru Matthew 2: Christ’s Call
Text: Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
JI Packer in his book Knowing God. “I walked in the sunshine with a scholar who had effectively forfeited his prospects of academic advancement by clashing with church dignitaries over the gospel of grace. “But it doesn’t matter he said at length, for I’ve know God and they haven’t. Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and matter-of-factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest, have to admit that we are still strangers. We claim, perhaps, to have testimony, and can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them; we say that we know God - this, after all, is what evangelical are expected to say; but would it occur to us to say, without hesitation, and with reference to particular events in our personal history, that we have known God? I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us experience of God has never become so vivid as that.”
That quote is quite convicting to me every time I read or think about it. Have I know God vividly? /di I know Jesus as intimately as that? And yet I believe that that is exactly what Jesus wants. I think in our passage today it is what Jesus is inviting us to do. Last week we looked at the commands of Christs from Matthew 7 and if they showed us that Jesus came not to enable us to keep the law and be made righteous through that law, but he came to keep the law himself and then offer as a gift his own righteousness to those who repent and believe in Him. In order for that to be true, we must come to Christ and in Him find salvation. Matthew 7 give us the clearest call Jesus ever makes in scripture. It is hard to imagine that anyone could walk away from such an personal invitation and yet many do, some even today in this auditorium may walk away. I don’t understand how they could do it, but I know they will.
Others may be here today who believe they have answered the call of Christ but in truth have only answered the call of a parent, a pastor or a Sunday School teacher. Unless you have heard the call of Christ within the chambers of your heart, carried there by the power of the Holy Spirit then you have not answered His call, you have not answered this call.
And for those of us who have truly heard and answered His call, I would challenge you this morning to listen once again because with the call to come to Jesus is the call to take up His yoke and learn of Him. Today would be a good day to hear and once again fully and completely answer the Call of Christ. Let’s go to Matthew 11:28 In this passage Jesus, in a sense, gives three invitations; come, take and learn. And I can will only fully answer His call when I take those three steps.
His Call, Come - Matthew 11:28
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
The Invitation to Come
The call of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 is part of a long discourse that begins when the disciples of John the Baptist, are sent by him to ask Jesus if He truly is the Messiah. Matthew 11:3 “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus answers them by telling them to report back to John of the signs and miracles that have been done and that the gospel, the good news that has been preached to the poor. He also tells John vs. 6 “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Now you might think Jesus would be upset by John’s question, some would even say John’s failure of faith, but Jesus, instead of being upset, lifts up John and says he was more than a prophet, that he was the forerunner foretold in scripture and that there is no man born of woman greater.
Then he tells the crowd that John the Baptist’s ministry was a line that changed everything that was understand about the kingdom. Matthew 11:12-13 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”
So John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus, the Messiah marked the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the prophets who told of a coming Messiah to The Prophet who now told the people that the Messiah is here.
Jesus then shows Himself, absolutely as the Messiah.
Matthew 11:21-24 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Then Jesus thanks His Father for showing these things to those who are willing to hear it and then with Himself now as the focus, He gives his invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
We must come to Jesus
His call is to all that labor and are heavy laden. Jesus calls to those who are struggling with the burdens of the law, the burdens of our own man-made obligation, struggling in our own strength to achieve righteousness. Struggling with sin and guilt, pain and sorrow. To those who are bearing these great, unbearable burdens, he says, “Come”.
And If we come to Him we do not find even greater burdens to bear but instead Jesus promises us that we find rest in Him.
It is hard for us to understand this, hard for us to accept this. To us there should be something that I must do, in order to earn this rest, earn this salvation. Jesus early in Matthew 11:12 said,
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” We somehow believe that by our good works, or good intention we will storm the wall of Heaven and conquer it with our own self righteousness.
In John 6:28 when once again Jesus was being challenged by the disbelief of the Gospel, by the simple plan of salvation that means trusting and believing is the Son of God. The people there challenging him said,” What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
To fully answer the call of Jesus, you must respond to His invitation on His terms, not yours.
You must let him take your burden of your sin. It is a burn you cannot bear and will drag you down into hell itself. No matter how hard you try you cannot fix even one sin of the past and each day you live adds to that unbearable burden you carry.
Jesus offers rest, but to find this rest we must come to Him. We cannot exchange one philosophy for another, nor new obligations for old obligations. We must come to find a Savior the only one who can give full restoration.
Let me go further, If you are struggling aa Christian, then it could be that you have begun to try and carry your own burden again. We may have forgotten that Jesus’ invitation is to Himself. When I come to Him, he makes me a Christian. He makes me a child of God. He saves me. He makes me what I can’t be in my own ability or self-righteousness. He bore my burden at Calvary and He must bear my burden every day, else it will crush me.
This never changes. It is the same at salvation and the same with every work I try to do or sin I try to overcome. I must hear His call, I must come to Him, believe in Him and He will be true to his word and take that unbearable burden upon Himself.
Christian’s Burden is lifted
Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation (Isaiah 26:1). Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.” Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks
Transition: The second thing I saw to make me realize that I don’t really know Jesus is His yoke.
His Yoke, Take - Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you,
The Invitation to the Yoke
The next part of the call of Christ is to take His yoke. He did not offer the yoke before He offered his invitation to come. He did not place his yoke upon them until after he had lifted their burden.
What is the yoke that Jesus offers in place of man’s burden? We know that a yoke is a harness placed upon an ox that puts it under the control of the its master. Also, in Jesus day, the rabbis called a school, a way of teaching or a disciple, a yoke.
But thank God the yoke that Jesus offers is different. Instead of being a yoke, like that of the Pharisees, that would only add to the burden they already could not carry, this yoke took away the burden. In this yoke the master did not just pile on more impossible weight but took it away and in its place gave us his own strength and power to carry His yoke. In this yoke they were joined with Him, the burden now carried is carried by the power that comes from our master, Jesus Christ.
We must be under the yoke of Jesus
Many want eternal life, many want to escape hell, but few want to be a disciple of Christ. Few of us want to be in a yoke, because being in that yoke means going where He wants me to go, walking beside Him every step of my life and doing the work He wants me to do.
Is it any wonder that we struggle as Christians? Instead of submitting to the yoke of Jesus, we pull against it. Instead of going where he directs, we try to go our own way. Instead of putting my shoulder to the work He wants me to do, I look for another field to plow, that is more to my choice and preferences. So as Christians, we struggle in Christian life. We pull our own way until we chafe at the yoke and complain about our master.
Surprise trip to Six Flags.
I remember a time when we lived in Dallas. My children were quite young and one Saturday morning LeeOra and I decided to take the kids on a surprise trip to Six Flags. But it was Saturday morning and the kids are busy watching TV, still in their pajamas and comfortable doing their own Saturday morning thing. They don’t want to go anywhere. So they complained and whined and ignored us until we almost had to punish them just to get them to go. Finally, after getting them into the car and listening to them grumble and mumble all the way, they see the roller-coasters and towers of Six Flags, their designated destination, designed by their dear parents. Oh yes, now the kids jump out of the car, screaming laughing, excited. Now they can’t wait to go where their Dad was trying to take them all along.
Sometimes we Christians are just like that chafing against the yoke of Jesus. We all want to do our own thing, while all the time Jesus is directing us where He wants us to go. And you know what, Jesus is leading us to a place a lot more exciting than Six Flags. Go where He wants you to go, go what He wants you to do. Take His yoke it will be a blessing everyday you wear it.
His Person, Learn – Matthew 11:29-30
…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Invitation To Himself
The final part of Jesus’ invitation is that we learn of him. This is not the same as saying, learn from me. No what Jesus is offering, what He is inviting us to do is learn who He is. This is another contrast with the rabbis and teachers of Jesus day. Another contrast with those trying seize the kingdom instead of being invited into the kingdom by the Messiah, its rightful ruler.
Jesus’ yoke was different because Jesus was different. Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly.” He didn’t brag or put on an act. He did not lift Himself in pretension or give Himself “airs.” His demeanor was humble and lowly, not proud nor and haughty. This is what he said of himself, “I am meek and lowly.”
These people gathered that day, the first ones to ever hear this invitation from Jesus, were required to take a very personal step. They had to submit themselves to Jesus, sit at His feet and learn who He truly was. They had to learn about the one who said he was meek and lowly. Only when they did this would they also come to know that His yoke was easy and his burden light.
We must learn of Jesus
I know that this will take all my life and all of eternity to fulfill completely, but I want take these last few minutes to just consider the characteristic Jesus himself claimed, lowliness, meakness, humility. I think one of the most important things we can learn of our master should be humility, because it is the quality He claimed for himself here.
Paul said something about the humility of Christ in Philippians 2:3-8 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
What then is humility? What would show that we have learned of Christ more than having the mind of Christ? What is it then? Paul says very plainly, it is putting others before ourselves. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus did?
Paul in Philippians 2 gives tells us of the “Kenosis” of Christ. How he emptied Himself of the glories of heaven, set aside his rightful place as Creator of the Universe and made himself a servant and then humbled himself even to painful and ignoble death by crucifixion upon a torturous wooden cross. Paul is telling us that Jesus did that for us. His humbleness was in putting us before his own rights as the Son of God. He loved us that much.
If I take the final step in answering Christ’s call then it means learning that true humility, the humility that Christ showed means putting others before ourselves and loving others more than ourselves. This is what Christ did and if we know Him it is what we will do.
If you should think that this is too much to ask, I will agree with you. It is. If you put this step as the first step rather than the last step of Jesus’ invitation, then you will fail. It is too much unless we come to Jesus, take his yoke, learn of him and then he promises us, “We will find rest for your souls.” Only by truly knowing Jesus can we know that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
When I answer the call of Jesus to come to Him, when I take his yoke and I learn of him, listen, He gives me rest. A rest that begins right now. I am no longer struggling with my burdern of sin and self-righteousness. A rest that grow most blessed and peaceful with each step I take following the Savior. A rest that deepens as my knowledge of Jesus deepens and a rest that will one day bring me to heaven, where that rest will be eternal.
Conclusion: Have you answered the call?
Have you taken his yoke? Are you willing to learn of Christ? Have you found His rest?
Take the first step today. Just come to Jesus. Doesn’t that sound so sweet? Just come to the one who loved you enough to lay aside the glories of heaven and come and take your place on the cross of Calvary.
If you’ve taken the first step than don’t stop, take up the yoke, put yourself fully under the care and loving instruction of your Lord and Savior. He’ll walk right along side you, If you tells you to go somewhere, He’ll go there with you. Find rest to your soul this morning. Come to Jesus.