Saturday, September 8, 2012

Light yoke of Christ

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


Jesus Christ spoke these words while on this earth to men who were burdened by the yoke of many of the religious leaders of that day. The religious leaders put a strong yoke of legalistic, oppresive and condemning bondage upon the people of that day. They did this several different ways:
1. They elevated their additional laws over and against God's commands
Matthew 15:7-9 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
2. They had an external righteousness of restraint by which they held as weight over those who were 'sinners'
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
3. They used the law to condemn men and leave them in their sin, they offered no hope.
John 9:34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus Christ however offered true hope, He employed the law, the commands of God to show the character and holiness of God, He used them to expose the fact that men have broken the commands of God and cannot begin to keep the law. Jesus proved that the problem of sin is an internal problem which can't be dealt with by any human effort, and that all men are equally condemned and that those who believe they are justified are truly blind. Jesus used His righteousness not to oppress men, but as an acceptable offering to God, Jesus Christ became hope for sinners by paying (being punished) for their sins. Jesus Christ offers hope to guilty and incapable of good lost men by providing atonement for their sins and grace through the Holy Spirit's work to be free from the bondage/mastery of sin, so that they may indeed live for God!
His yoke is easy because it's fueled by His love and all the effort that is done by men is from the graceful ability which God supplies. His burden is light because He has carried it all, and the load which He places upon His people is not only for their good, but the strength they have to endure it is, once again, provided by Him. The freedom found in serving Christ, in laboring for the Lord is restful, for our hearts are then soothed with the knowledge that we have peace with God, that He is our Father and that He is in control, yes it is the rest of enjoying His goodness and grace even in the midst of trials because we are assured that such is temporary and that we shall one day dwell with Him for eternity!

NOTE: Lest we be swept away by flowery sermonettes on this passage, let us also recognize the FULL context (for it is quite common for preachers to leave out an explanation of the previous verses).
Pay especially close attention to the words i have underlined,
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
So then what we have here is clearly an example of the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of men, for God retains the right to reveal truth, to give grace by revealing Himself. Men are guilty, they die and are condemned because they have sinned, not because they have rejected their 'second chance', and God according to His pleasure has mercy on whomever He 'wills' to have mercy on. So then the call to come in this context is to men who have had such revelation, who see their need, who have learned of the hope found in Christ, who desire to be freed from the bondage of sin, NOT a message to down and out oppressed people who are victims of the religious hypocrites.

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