Come Unto Him (A Sermon Series in 5 Parts), Part 5:
"Rest is a Healing Word"
July 31, 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
Our title and our topic for today is: “Rest is a Healing Word”
This July we have been exploring a sermon series called Come Unto Him. Each week we have taken a look at a different aspect of this remarkable gem from Matthew 11: 28-30 that Jesus has shared with us. This blessed word contains invitations and promises for us.
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.
Let us remember some of the things that we have been studying during this month of July.
We learned from this passage that Jesus cares, He would not have said these words unless He cared. He saw that the people of his day were carrying heavy burdens and were overworked, things that are true also of us today. Jesus cares, when we invoke the precious name of Jesus that is the kind of spirit that we are talking about. People of His day were overburdened by the many religious laws they had to follow in order to get close to God. Jesus’s yoke is easy, it is custom made for each person and it fits well. The Lord has something special for each person to do, the work is unique to each person. Diversity is built into the Christian church. The knowledge that the field we are plowing is unique to us helps bring us joy. Carrying a burden with joy and love makes the burden light.
When Jesus invites us to Come Unto Him he invites us to do it in prayer. The basic idea is paying attention. As soon as you turn your attention to God, you are in prayer. The basic action is drawing near. Just draw near and you will get a blessing! Come unto me is the same phrase Jesus used when he said, Let the little children come unto me and hinder them not. For to such is the kingdom of heaven. The children ran up to Him, and He embraced them. He blessed each and every child.
Three invitations come from Jesus-Come unto me, Learn of me, Take my yoke upon you. Come unto Him as a child would have when he invited the children to come up for a blessing. Learn of Him, I believe that there is something built into our hearts that thirsts for knowledge about Jesus. He is the completion of creation, He is the manifestation of God, our connection to the creator of the universe. Keep on learning and growing in your knowledge of Christ. Take my yoke upon you means to say yes to the job that Jesus needs you to do. You want to make a positive difference in the world and Jesus also assures us that He will be pulling along with us.
In the writings of the Bible when a phrase or concept is repeated it is done to emphasize it, to underline it, as there was no superlative case in the ancient Aramaic language. Repetition was used to draw attention to a certain phrase or concept. Example: King of Kings, Lord of Lords – this is the Hebrew way of expressing a superlative, and giving the strongest emphasis. Jesus repeats the promise of rest. On one hand, He says I will give you rest. And then He says it again, you will find rest for your soul. What exactly is this rest that Jesus is talking about? It is more than a Sunday afternoon nap. (laughter from the Congregation) Rest is peaceful quietness, rest is taking time to be still and know that the Lord is God.
Amazing things happen during that time of stillness. The body does amazing healing work when we are still and when we sleep and, at least on the surface, shut down. Cells are repaired, nerve energy is restored and we feel better. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. I pray that you will be rested in body and spirit with the restfulness of Christ. May you have rest and may you say yes to it-a time of blessed quietness, Holy quietness.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was once told by someone that several of his parishioners were asleep in church during his sermon. Without missing a beat, Dr, Peale replied that it was completely okay. He said, “I know those folks work hard during the week, and I am glad to give them a sense of deep peace.”
I do wish deep peace for you – hopefully not during this sermon, perhaps, but peace indeed! I believe that in Jesus’ mind, rest was not an end in itself. Rest leads to results. One of the results of restfulness in Jesus is that you are able to rise to a new state of consciousness. You rise up and awaken to a state of Christ consciousness. Christ consciousness allows you to affirm in your soul, I am alive, awake, alert, energetic and enthusiastic about life. That is the way Jesus wants us to feel after restfulness in the Lord. It brings us Readiness, Easiness, Strength and Trust. The first letter in each of these words combines to form the word REST.
Pastor Tony plays and sings at the piano using the words, Ready, Easy, Strong and Trusting, Since Jesus Came Into My Soul, as the lyrics. The Congregation joins in singing and snapping fingers.
Ready-When we are rested in the Lord, we feel ready to help.
Easy-I do my work with a sense of ease and flow.
Strong-I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Trusting-The blessings I have had in the past teach me to have hope for everything I need to go forward into the future.
I wish you rest in the Lord, rest that restores, rest that heals, rest that brings a sense of being ready, having ease, strength and trust. May it be yours from the Holy Spirit, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Friend, as we conclude this series together, I have discovered that there is one more idea I wish to lift up for you from this timeless verse of scripture. Amazingly, it is only after this month of study that I was struck by it. And it was there in front of me all the time. It is the word, “All”. Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all ye that are heavy laden…” Not just “chosen ones”. “All”. “All ye that are heavy laden.” The arms of our Lord embrace all human kind. No one is restricted, no one group is singled out for the promise of the Lord. No matter what our background or history, no matter what our particular circumstance, the blessing of Jesus is there for the accepting. The promise comes to all – and that certainly includes you and me.
Thank you for being a part of this sermon series. I pray that it is a help and blessing to you.
God loves you; I do, too. Amen.
© 2011 Anthony J. Godlefski