Come Unto Him (A Sermon Series in 5 Parts), Part 4:
"T For Two"
July 24, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
28 Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light
I had not planned to do this, but I feel moved in spirit to do so. Please take your Scripture reading in hand, my friends. It occurs to me that there is a question that arises due to the Scripture that was read this morning. I would like to offer you an insight about this. Jesus had a favorite concept. The concept was the Kingdom of God, the place where God is king, the state of consciousness where God is king. Jesus desperately wanted to tell people what the kingdom was like. In the Gospel reading he tells different parables or comparisons to show what the kingdom is like. There is one parable that we as Methodists find unsettling. It is the last one, Matthew 13: 47-50.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
How do we understand this passage as Methodists? Methodists are people who believe in the middle road, in the gentle Spirit, in the universal salvation, as I certainly do. How do we deal with this passage?
First of all we automatically assume as we read this passage that Jesus was referring to people. However, I think Jesus was referring to ideas, and the deeds that result from them. Ideas are energy and ideas have consciousness. I believe that Jesus was saying that there are certain ideas that are good and powerful ideas, ideas of the Spirit, ideas that result in good and loving and productive deeds.
But then there are other ideas that certainly are not that way. You know that! Just look at the kinds of things that are in the movies! Read the news about the tragedies that occur from dark and negative ideas. Friends, there are ideas that are good and right and powerful and of God’s Spirit. There are also ideas that are not that way. Jesus is saying that God’s will, will prevail in the end. The ideas and consciousness and the spirit of negativity will be cast out and deleted. Ideas that are good and wholesome and uplifting and positive are the ones that God will call into Himself. That is how we can understand this otherwise confusing passage.
Also please look at another powerful Scripture that we have today from Romans 8:37-39.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This a very powerful statement of God’s love for us.
Our title and our topic for today is: T For Two
In our sermon series, Come Unto Him, we have been studying another mountain top of Scripture. This Scripture is so powerful, so full of promise, of hope and love, that it is worthy of our month long study.
Come unto me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
My Yoke is Easy
Last week we talked about the sign above Joseph’s carpenter shop that said, “My Yoke is Easy.” When the yoke is easy, it means that it fits you well. It is custom made. Yes, there is work for us to do and tasks for us to accomplish. But they are all made specifically for you. Christianity is a custom fit. The work that Jesus would have us do in the world is made especially for us. That is what the phrase, My Yoke is Easy, means for us.
After the sermon last week, a wonderful member of our church, Vin Reilly, came up to me with an insight that I would like to share with you. He said, “When the yoke is easy, you can pull with more strength and tomorrow you can do it again because you haven’t been damaged or hurt.”
Isn’t that marvelous? It gives me great comfort to know that what Jesus wants me to do is not outside the character of who I am. What Jesus wants for each of us is a custom fit. As I walked around our Vacation Bible School and saw the wonderful teachers teaching and our musicians singing and playing and people telling Bible stories, I had this great feeling that all these people were doing what they were called to do. They were working hard, but they were doing it with joy because the yoke was easy. The yoke was specific to the talents they had. The yoke of Jesus fits well.
My Burden is Light
Today let us look at this phrase from Jesus, My burden is light. What does this mean? How can a burden be light? Heaven knows that you work hard. Heaven knows that you have things that are difficult in your life. How do we know that Heaven knows? Because Jesus says so. Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Jesus cares and He knows that you have things on your mind and burdens that you carry. But He says that if you come to Him, He will make your burden light. Isn’t that a wonderful promise to us?
When is a burden light? Your burden can be light if it has an element of joy, of love and of peace, three fruits of the Spirit. I encourage you this week to pray to the Lord, Dear Lord, Help me to find the joy in what I have to do. Help me to find the joy in my burden.
The people who taught at Vacation Bible School this week were obviously working hard. They had to make preparations, get up early in the morning and work hard for the day. But there was joy in it. That element of joy keeps us going and makes our burden light. There was joy in hearing the children sing. There was joy in the laughter in the hallway. There was joy in knowing that the Bible verses and the Bible stories and the images of fun on the church lawn and in the kitchen will last in the children’s hearts.
Let Jesus help you this week to find an element of joy in the things you have to do - and your burden will be lighter.
A burden can be light if there is an element of Love. When you are doing something out of love or doing something for someone you love, the burden can feel light. There is a story about a gentleman in Scotland who was walking along the street. Further ahead, he saw a teenage boy. On the boy’s shoulders, clinging to his neck, was a younger boy. In one of the boy’s hands there was a crutch. The gentleman said to the older boy, “That is a heavy burden you are carrying!” The teenager replied in his Scottish brogue, “He aint heavy, he is my wee brother.” When something is done out of love, the burden becomes lighter.
When you do your job, lift your burden and perform with peace in your heart, the burden becomes lighter. That is what Jesus does for us. Our sermon today is titled, T for Two. On the inside of the bulletin is a picture of two oxen joined together by a yoke. From an aerial view the yoke of the oxen would look like the top beam of the letter, T. The rope that harnesses the oxen to the plow, looks like the main shaft of the T. So from above, the oxen yoke harness system looks like a T. The point is that the ox doesn’t pull the plow alone. There is a “yoke partner.” And so it is for us. We have work to do and sometimes it is hard and burdensome, but we don’t pull it alone. This week when doing your work, please remember that you don’t do it alone - You do it with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ beside you. Jesus wants to be your yoke partner. You have the partnership of Jesus Christ and His spiritual energy giving you love, joy, peace and help.
There is a story told about a little boy who wanted his yard clear of stones so that he would have a nice, flat, playing area. He was able to get most of the stones out of the way, but there was this one sticking up out of the ground that he could not move. The boy asked his father what he should do. The father said to make sure you use all the strength at your command. The boy went back and tugged and tugged and pulled with all his strength but finally gave up and went back to his father. He told his father that still couldn’t move the stone. The father asked if he was sure he had used all his strength. The boy answered, “Yes, I am sure.” The father said, “But there is some strength you haven’t yet tapped into. You could have asked me for help!” The boy then asked him for help. The father found a long metal pole and they wedged it underneath and the father and son together pressed down on the long metal pole, and used it to lift up the stone. The job was done.
Please remember that you are not pulling alone, Jesus is with you - as he promised.
God loves you, I do too. I wish you a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski