"The Burden of Christ"??
Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30??
16???But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17???We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.??? 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ???He has a demon???; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ???Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!??? Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.?????
25At that time Jesus said, ???I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All 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. 28???Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.?????
Last week we talked about receiving Christ, about opening up the door to our hearts and letting Christ in ??? whether we're prepared or surprised. But this morning we must come to terms with the fact that it is hard to let Christ in when we can't hear Him knocking at the door. To go with the image from last week ??? of our hearts being homes ??? imagine busying and burdening yourself with all the cares, concerns, and chores that YOU believe are most important but ignoring the knock at the door from Jesus Christ, the one who knows how to take care of your house better than you'll ever know. He ought to know, He built the house!??
We can't hear Christ knocking when we are distracted by the noises of everyday life. We allow so many things to speak when the best thing we could do is quiet the sounds that compete with the voice of God and lean into the Spirit's calling. The key is that we live a life that is hospitable, a life that is inviting, that will hear when God knocks, when God calls…when other people knock and call. But an inhospitable life is one that is loud on the inside and cluttered by the junk that we ourselves have stored up along the way. Even if we hear the knocking we can't make it to the front door for the boxes in the hall.??
Now, Jesus Christ came knocking to the people in our text this morning, but the Pharisees were unable to hear it. But who does the text say DID hear it? Look at v.25, as it says??
I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.??
Why? Why are those who are infants, who are child-like in their understanding, the ones who are hearing God's message? Why do THEY hear the knock at the door and not the teachers of the law???
It is because they have very little clutter in the house of their hearts. Their hearts and their ears are open; their houses are simple. In the simple house, when God knocks and when God calls, hearing is easy and the visit is pleasant. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? When Christ came to visit the sisters in Bethany, Mary received Jesus in, sat at His feet, and listened to Him speak. Martha on the other hand heard nothing Jesus said, as she busied herself with the work of the house. Martha missed a good word from Jesus because she was worried about the chores and her sister's lack of help. Mary received the better portion that day because she was able to receive Jesus in and allow Him to speak.??
The hearts of the Pharisees in our text this morning are weighed down by the law. They are burdened by their large rule keeping. And what is sad is that the burden that they struggle wit
h here in our text is their own burden, one that they have brought on themselves, just like Martha.
For us this morning, we have a golden opportunity to stop and to look into our own lives and ask the question, "Where have I cluttered my own heart? How have I made my own life so complicated that the knocking of God is virtually impossible to hear?" Have we been like Martha, receiving Jesus within but not listening to what He has to say???
What is so difficult for me today as your pastor is that I can't ask these questions for you. I can't answer these questions for you. Sure, I can point out a few things here and there that will help you lean in and hear God knocking a little better, but at the end of the day, YOU have to be the one who will look in the mirror and accept or reject what you see. My hope is that I can give you some tools, that I can help make you aware that there is a great work that needs to be done in your life through Jesus Christ.??
And so here is my burden of responsibility this morning, what I must tell you: When we burden ourselves with anything other than what Christ Himself has laid on us, we complicate our lives and we complicate God's mission to the world through us.??
Many of our burdens come from what we try to do without God. The Pharisees are a perfect example. Their jobs were to structure the life of the people through their interpretation of the law so that all could glorify God. But, all they ended up doing in their work was making the law so difficult and heavy that the people were choking in their spiritual lives. The solution, though, is not to get rid of the law. We still need the structure in order to accomplish the tasks set before us as faithful followers of God.??
And so, it is important to understand that Jesus has come to free us from the oppressiveness of the Pharisees' law. But He hasn't done this in order to leave us skipping away empty handed, free as a bird without a care in the world. He doesn???t say in v.30 for my yoke is non-existent and my burden is imaginary. Jesus is trading burdens ??? one for another. Jesus takes upon His own shoulders the sinfulness of our heavy, cluttered hearts and in turn gives us an easier yoke and a lighter burden. Christ's burden to us is easier than the lead-filled burdens that we place on ourselves.??
But…what is "The Burden of Christ"? It is a burden for the brokenness of this world, which is not an insignificant weight. But rather than carrying the burden of our own sin ??? which we can do nothing about on our own ??? we take on the Burden of Christ, a love for the world, which we CAN do something about. We have this great and holy mission before us, to take mercy and grace into the dark places and shine forth God's light in a way that brings healing and hope. Through Christ we are able to do all things, we are able to carry the burden He carries around in His heart for this world and we are able to meet the needs of those who come our way, who's paths we cross each and every day.??
A simple faith, faith like a child, is a relationship with God that is not competing with other things. The Pharisees' understanding of the religious law competed with Jesus' message. They were distracted by the rule-keeping, tied down by the sternness of the law. This kind of life kept them from exercising the grace needed for ministry in the community and in the world.??
Our purpose is to be an offering to the world. We can realize this through holy communion. Listen to our liturgy and be mindful of what we are proclaiming. I'll let the juice and bread do the talking now, because there is grace inside it for us to have, if we will open our hearts and receive it. Amen.??
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