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The Yoke’s on You!

Matthew 11:16-30



Children love to play games.  And in vv. 16-17 the Lord gives an illustration of children playing games.


v. 16-17   “This generation” is the people of the Lord’s day who rejected Him…but it also speaks of humanity in general, inc. our generation.


What games did you play as a kid?


Often kids argue about what game to play, or who gets to be the leader.  Who plays the ‘preacher’ when they play the wedding game, etc.  Today’s kids are more spoiled than ever…and they expect new toys and new video games, and most of all--to get their way. 


Our text is a picture of spoiled children that cannot be pleased…nothing makes them happy for long.  And that’s a picture of our generation today, and even some people in the church.  They can’t be pleased.  It’s too warm or too cold in here, and the sermon was too long or too short [no often accused of the latter!]


Ill.—g’kids put limburger cheese in g’pa’s moustache while he was napping.  He got up and every room he went into he thought stank.  He even walked outside and said, the whole world stinks!

        Some Christians are like that and need an attitude adjustment.


But Jesus is speaking about His ministry and the way He was rejected by His own people, and doubted by all at times, inc. John the Baptist in our text. 


v. 18-19           John came preaching repentance…serious and stern, and you didn’t like that…then Jesus came w/ an initial message of love and hope, and you didn’t like that either!  And they called the sinless Son of God a drunk!


Fact is, when you don’t want to hear the message, then no messenger will do.  Some have made up their mind they don’t want to be saved, and so they spend their time picking Christians apart. 


Jesus goes on in vv. 20-24 to pronounce judgment on the unrepentant cities that rejected Him.  He said Sodom and Gomorrah will have a lighter judgment than those places where He worked miracles that rejected Him.


“We are not only judged for sins committed, but for light rejected!”


These cities rejected the Lord face to face, in the light of signs and wonders and miracles.  And judgment someday will be more severe for one who rejected the gospel repeatedly, willfully, than for one w/ less opportunity to hear the gospel.


But then Jesus shifts gears in v. 25 and just starts praying.  The Lord has a totally different tone by v. 28…


v. 28-30   He has been pronouncing a curse, then suddenly He turns to prayer and the Spirit and it’s like walking out of the dark into the light.


This language is in sharp contrast to just a few verses earlier.  What the Lord is doing is turning from the corporate level to the individual level.  In spite of a stern message falling on the deaf ears of a mostly unbelieving generation, a great invitation is still given at the end, for the few who will come!


You have to send out a lot of invitations to get a few to come.  That’s true even of something positive like a wedding or a special event.  How many invitations do you have to give to get a few to come to God’s house or a ladies Bible Study?  Many will not answer God’s call and great invitation…and yet the invitation must be given, even as Jesus gave it!


It’s an invitation of rest.  How many here need rest?  But it’s talking about a different kind of rest for your soul.  We all have an inner restlessness / turmoil / desire to find peace, contentment and serenity.  And many try to fill that inner void w/ people, places, things, and activities.


The codependent looks to a person to fulfill what only Jesus can provide.  Some make purchase after purchase trying to be happy when what they really need is absolutely free!  The church hopper moves frequently from church to church trying to find fulfillment in a place or in those people.  Some folks move from city to city and job to job looking for what only Jesus can give them.  Others stay as busy as possible and then wonder why they never find rest!


Notice that “rest” is mentioned twice in these verses…I believe it’s talking about 2 different kinds of rest.


There is:

“Come and I will give you rest” &

“Take and you will find rest”


v. 28 is the rest of salvation

Rest from labor and rest from burdens are mentioned in v. 28.


Labor—those working for their salvation…trying to earn their way into heaven, to save themselves.  In those days the Pharisees made salvation about keeping commandments and doing things…do, do, do!  Jesus says if you’re tired of trying then try trusting!


Many labor at being a better person, to turn over a new leaf, or drop a bad habit…but in their own strength and by their own determination.  What a restless fight that will be.  We need supernatural power to live above the natural. 


Some say, I’m gonna clean my life up and then I’ll come to Jesus [that’s putting the cart before the horse, like saying, “When I get better, I’m gonna go to the Dr.!”]


Some say, I’d get saved but I know I couldn’t live it.  Again, it’s all about labor, and thinking on such an earthly level.  Of course you can’t live it…but the Spirit can live it in you and thru you!


It’s also an invitation to the burdened.

“Heavy laden”


‘Labor’ is active, but ‘heavy laden’ is passive…somebody has laid something on you a great burden.  In context, I believe Jesus is talking about the guilt of sin.  Sin is the heaviest burden that you will ever bear.  But God can lift it w/ one little finger!


That’s v. 28.


v. 29        v. 28 was the rest of salvation, but this is the rest of total surrender.  Many Christians would have to admit tonite, I’ve come to Jesus for the rest of salvation, but why do I still feel restless?  It might be that you need the deeper rest that comes w/ total surrender.


There is a difference between the rest that Jesus gives and the rest that we have to find.  What does that mean?


Rom. 5:1--…being justified by faith we have peace with God.


Philippians 4:7--…the peace of God passeth all understanding.


There’s a difference between peace with God and the peace of God.  Peace w/ God comes at salvation as the wall of separation between us drops, and the veil is torn asunder.  Until salvation I was the enemy of God, but now we’re at peace, we’re family!


But the peace OF God is different.  V. 29 gives us 3 steps to finding the peace of God.

1.     A decision—take my yoke upon you.  We must take upon ourselves the yoke of Christ.  “The yoke’s on you!”  It’s not as familiar today, but everyone that day knew what Jesus was talking about.  They all had oxen they plowed with, and around their neck was a yoke.


Jesus says, I’ll remove your yoke of sin, but you must replace it w/ the yoke of Christ.  We all serve someone.  Some say they just want to do their own thing, but they cannot, for they answer to someone.  Some choose to rebel against their parents saying, nobody’s gonna tell me what to do, and so they go off and join the service!  Fact is, you are a servant to sin until set free, but then you have to decide if you’re gonna serve Jesus or yourself.  And there’s no rest in the latter!


Jesus says, lose the yoke of sin, and then take on my yoke.  You say, what kind of deal is that?


v. 30        His yoke is easy!  That means it is well fitting, and tailor made for your life.  Not a weight around the neck, for His burden is light.


Where did this idea come from that doing God’s will is a miserable experience?  This is the mindset of many Christians, “If I surrender to God’s will He’ll make me do something I don’t want to do.”


I want to testify that I have been walking in God’s will for about 30 years now and I’m having the time of my life doing just that!  Sure, there’s ups and downs, highs and lows, just like anything, but there’s no greater joy and fulfillment I can find anywhere else that the perfect fitting yoke of living for God!  What peace!  What rest!


The decision…


2.     The development—“learn of me”.  That’s following His example.  He is meek and lowly…that’s a humble, unselfish life.  The most miserable people on earth are those who think only of themselves.


Truly, the way to spell JOY is Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last.


3.     The discovery—“you shall find rest”.  If you aren’t living in God’s rest and peace, then you need to more fully surrender to the yoke.  Take on a burden for the Lord…with His help it will be light.  Don’t just go to heaven carrying nothing and no one with you…take on a burden…wear the yoke!

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