The Sweetest Invitation (Mat. 11:20-30)

Publié le 27 novembre 2021 dans Traductions

Sermon preached by Pastor Vincent Bourrel on 28th November 2021

Introduction

The cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee, were the theaters for most of Jesus’ miracles (v. 20), however, most of the inhabitants of these cities have rejected Jesus’ mission to save sinners, and they did not repent of their sins.

It was in Capernaum that Jesus healed the paralyzed and suffering servant of a Roman centurion (Mt 8.5-8). It was in Capernaum that he healed the mother-in-law of the apostle Peter, who was suffering from a fever and demoniacs, and he healed all the sick « so that what had been announced by Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: He took our infirmities and he took charge of our illnesses ”. (Mt 8.14-17)

It is in front of Capernaum on the Lake of Galilee that Jesus calms the storm with one word, then on the other side of the lake, he delivers a demonic (Mt 8.23-27). It is in Capernaum « in his city » that he heals a paralyzed man, (Mt 9: 1-8). It is in Capernaum that he heals a woman who had been suffering from blood loss for 12 years and he resuscitates the daughter of Jairus (Mt 9:18-26).

The inhabitants of these cities did not oppose Jesus, they did not drive him out, they did not threaten him as in Nazareth. Jesus teaches, preaches and works hallucinating miracles, but they do not repent, they are simply indifferent. Jesus said that if such miracles had been done in the pagan cities of Tire or Sidon (Lebanon) and even in Sodom (renowned for its sin) these cities would have long repented.

Jesus is saying a terrible thing here: we will be judged according to the light we have received. For Jesus it is evident that people who have benefited greatly from the bounties of God will be judged more severely than others if they do not repent. They sinned out of indifference. Jesus performed all these miracles to testify to who he is: The Messiah, the living God who came to save sinful men.

The attitude of these 3 cities foreshadows a rejection on a larger scale. It is the rejection of Christ by those who have received the most light, cities and nations where the Bible is abundant and the gospel is preached frequently. But the locals don’t come to Christ because they don’t think they need it. They are rich, they need nothing, they regard themselves as wise and intelligent and they despise Christ.

V.25-26 Jesus does not rejoice in the judgment of these cities but shows that a heart change is necessary to come to Christ. It is an attitude of humility. The contrast between the wise and the intelligent on the one hand and the children on the other is not the same as between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the bright and the dull. This is a contrast between those who believe they can save themselves by their own wisdom, resources and human achievements on the one hand and those who know they cannot on the other. It is a comparison between them who rely on themselves and those who rely on God. The gospel is for those who are not wise and intelligent in their own eyes and for those who realize their dependence on God like little children (the term « children » here designates children who do not speak and who cannot yet eat solid food but are fed milk). God willed it so that he alone could be glorified which is the supreme goal of man and what makes him truly happy.

v.27 God chooses to reveal himself to the person who abandons human knowledge and wisdom to become like a child who knows nothing.

To all of these people Jesus announces this wonderful invitation: « Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Here are 3 reasons why we should come to Jesus:

BECAUSE OF HIS GENTLE AND HUMBLE CHARACTER 

Jesus is not trigger-happy. It is his deep nature not to accuse people but to open his arms to them. We imagine a God who approaches us with some disgust or contempt « like a child touching a slug for the first time – scrunching up his face, cautiously reaching out, letting out a little cry of disgust at its touch and instantly withdrawing his hand. »

We imagine Christ approaching us with severity and austerity because we imagine a God in our image. We are aware that humanly speaking this is how we should be treated. But Jesus is not like that. Look at v.19 Publicans and people of ill repute represent the worst sinners in the culture of the time.

Is it good news for you that Jesus is a friend of the worst sinners? In fact, this detail is very comforting for those who recognize themselves as sinners and is only objectionable to those who do not see themselves as such. Jesus was comfortable in their company and they felt welcome and at ease with him. cf. Luke 15:1-2 « All the tax collectors and sinners came to Jesus to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying: This man welcomes people of ill repute and eats with them.”

In Jesus we have a friend who will always enjoy our presence. Even with our best friends, we don’t feel fully comfortable revealing everything about our lives. Because we fear that they will abandon us, that our friendship will be damaged by revealing the thoughts of our hearts. But Christ will stay with you, he knows all that you are, he knows the secret thoughts of your heart and he keeps his perfect friendship with you, never encouraging you to sin, but on the contrary he gives you the desire and the strength to give it up.

Jesus is tender, open, welcoming, understanding, and kind to those who come to him. He said, « I will not cast out whoever comes to me.” This is what it means to be « gentle and humble ».

Jesus is full of compassion. Mt 12.18-21 That is, he is moved by the chains that bind us (grudges, evil desires, lies, greed, pride…), and he wants to help us.

It is all the more wonderful that he also presents himself as the equal of the Father, v.27, Jesus affirms here that he is God, as all his miracles attest, and that he is also the one who reveals him. Certainly the sweetest and most important invitation.

The second reason we should come to Jesus:

BECAUSE OF HIS INSTRUCTIONS, HIS LIGHT YOKE

He helps us by teaching us his Word. He reveals to us who he is and what he has done for us. In v.29 the yoke is the heavy piece of wood that is put on the neck of oxen to yoke them. Jesus uses some irony in inviting the already tired and burdened to take a yoke upon them. But his yoke is gentle and his burden is light.

It’s how Dane Ortlund illustrates it in his book. Jesus’s offer is like telling a drowning person that he must take the burden of a life jacket upon himself. Unfortunately people reject Christ in a foolish way as if the drowning person is saying « no way I’m already having a hard time not sinking I certainly don’t need an extra burden of a life jacket around my body! »

Christ’s authority over us, his instructions are not heavy. On the contrary they are light, salutary and they are what carry us. 

His yoke is soft and his burden light. In other words, his yoke is not a yoke, nor is his burden a burden. What helium is to a balloon, Jesus’ yoke is to his disciples. He carries us. Following Christ is not painful, on the contrary it is exciting!

Yes, with Christ life makes sense, Boris said: « Since I accepted God in my life (= since I came to Jesus) I don’t feel sad anymore, I don’t feel empty, I don’t feel alone, I finally have answers. I don’t need to pretend anymore, Christ has given me freedom in good days and in bad days ».

The third reason we should come to Jesus:

BECAUSE OF OUR NEED FOR REST 

People who come to Christ are tired of looking for the meaning of life in human philosophies, of trying to please God by their efforts, of trying to be a good person… It is the inner exhaustion of those who strive, work to obtain His favor.

At the time of Jesus the teachings of the rabbis became heavy, you never do enough, you need more and more prayers, more and more effort, more and more fasts, more and more gifts, and people are tired… you never stop doing, and you never have any assurance that you have done enough to please him. That’s how religion works: if you obey you will be accepted by God. If you do your 5 prayers a day, if you do ramadan, if you do a pilgrimage, if you do alms…. Then you will be accepted. But if you have failed in your prayers, you have broken the fast, you have failed in your generosity… then doubt sets in. You live in fear and insecurity, scrambling to do more to try to make up for your failures. All religions work like this. You obey to get something from God. It’s exhausting!

As Boris mentioned in his testimony, we can be tired of trying to please those around us, of playing the role of a cool person, of a couple where everything is going well, a cliché that doesn’t let any difficulty or shortcoming show. So we pretend not to disappoint anyone, we live in a kind of permanent lie, we are never who we really are … But it is tiring the dictatorship of appearances. 

People are loaded with the burdens we carry, the anger we have towards someone and that spoils all our reactions, and affects our relationships. We know it’s not good, but we live with it like something we can’t get rid of. Guilt, which crushes us because we have done and said things that hurt. Shame is added when those around us have seen, known, heard… Our efforts to justify ourselves are futile and keep us away from any peace, from salvation. 

This is what burdens us. You can be burdened by the weight of an inner wound, a suffering that weighs you down night and day, a distress that you drag like a ball and chain.

“And I will give you rest.”

You don’t have to unload or pull yourself together to come to Jesus. Come as you are. Your burden qualifies you to come. The rest that Christ provides, he gives us freely. It is not for sale, it is not bartered, it is not loaned… it is given, given to those who come to him. To come to him here is to believe in him as in John 6.35 « Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.’ « 

Entering God’s rest means ceasing all efforts to earn salvation in one’s own strength and simply believing that God accepts us as we are simply because we believe that Jesus died and rose for us. To believe that he has paid for our faults. We have arrived, we don’t have to run anymore to find truth, peace, happiness and eternal life somewhere. We have it not because we deserve it, but because Jesus gives it to the one who comes to him, who believes.

Jesus is full of compassion for those who suffer, who are tired and crushed by the burden of sin. 

There are so many examples of this in the book of Matthew, here are a few:

8:1-4 A leper came to him and bowed down to him and said, « Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean. » Jesus reached out his hand, touched him and said, « I want you to be clean. Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

8:5-13 A centurion who was « unclean » because of his ethnic origin « came to him and prayed to him, saying Lord, my servant is lying in the house, paralyzed and suffering greatly. Jesus said to him, « I will go and heal him. 

8:14-17 Then demoniacs and sick people were brought to him. And they were all healed.

9:1-8 A paralyzed man was brought before Jesus by his friends. Seeing their faith…

9:18-26 A woman who has been bleeding for 12 years approaches Jesus and touches him: « If I can only touch his garment, I will be healed.”

We can see from these examples that to come to him is to believe.

Conclusion

If you are tired, loaded down, just come to Jesus, come as you are. His invitation is sweet. To come to Christ is to turn to him and say: Forgive me, have mercy on me, help me. I believe you died for me, you came to give me life.

You may have come to Christ before, but you are burdened this morning with worries, difficulties, faults… come to Christ. He does not turn his back on you. Just tell him. And if you wish, a team is available to accompany you in prayer at the end of this meeting.