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September 1, 2019

Sermon Matthew 11:28 . . .“Jesus said:  ‘Come to Me’”

“Jesus said:  ‘Come to Me’”

Matthew 11:28

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

No country in the world wanted her.  No port would accept her.  No dock would allow her to land.  It was a good ship and had good owners.  Still, she was the most unwanted ship in the world.

So what was the problem?  It all began back in August of 1986 in Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love.  Unfortunately, the city’s sanitation workers weren’t feeling any love that year, so they went on strike...for a month.  Now I don’t how much trash your family accumulates in a week.  Imagine the city of Philadelphia for a month!

They used to send it to New Jersey, but New Jersey said they didn’t want it anymore.  And neither did Ohio or Georgia.

So what to do?  Enter the Pelicano.  You see, someone got the bright idea to load all fourteen thousand tons of it onto the ship, (complete with aluminum, arsenic, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc), then sail her down to the Bahamas.  But when she arrived in the Bahamas, they said they didn’t want it.  So off she went to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Bermuda, and the Dutch Antilles.  Still, no one would let her land.

For two years, she floated around on the open seas, through the Caribbean, the Atlantic, West Africa, and the Mediterranean.  She even changed her name twice and her owners once, until finally, her captain dumped it somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

What do you do with a ship full of fourteen thousand tons of trash, that nobody wants, and no place to go?

So it is in our text for today, from the book of Matthew chapter 11.  Please turn in your Bible to page 1037.  I’ll start where it says:  “Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest.”  Matthew chapter 11, verse 25:  “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord, of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will.  All 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.  Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’”

If you’d glance back a page, you’d see that Jesus’ ministry had only just begun.  In chapter 9, He healed two blind men, a woman, a paralytic, and a man possessed by a demon.  He raised a little girl, Jairus’ daughter, from the dead.  And He called His first disciples--Peter and Andrew, and James and John, even Matthew, a tax collector.

And He taught the people in chapter 10, verse 34, saying:  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  And verse 36:  “A person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”  And of John the Baptist, He said:  “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”

Now here in chapter 11, He said some of His best-known and best-loved words of all:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Rest is something we all so desperately need.  In her book, The Soul of Money, author Lynne Twist wrote:  “For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’  The next one is, ‘I don’t have enough time.’”  And she said:  “We spend most of the hours and days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of...we don’t have enough exercise.  We don’t have enough work.  We don’t have enough profits.  We don’t have enough power.  We don’t have enough wilderness.  We don’t have enough weekends.”

And if that’s not bad enough, we don’t have enough money either.  We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough, or educated enough, or successful enough.  Before we even sit up in bed or touch our feet to the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing or lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a list of things we either don’t have or didn’t get done.  Then after a fitful night’s sleep, we get up the next day, only to do it all over again.

Or think of a song by Sandra Boynton, called, “BusyBusyBusy.”  It goes like this:  “We’re very, very busy and we’ve got a lot to do/And we haven’t got a minute to explain it all to you.  For on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, there are people we must see/And on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, we’re as busy as can be/With our most important meetings and our most important calls/And we have to do so many things and post them on the walls...We have to hurry far away, and then we hurry near/And we have to hurry everywhere, and be both there and here/And we have to send out messages by email, phone, and fax/And we’re talking every minute, and we really can’t relax/And we think there is a reason to be running neck-and-neck/And it must be quite important, but we don’t have time to check.”

Sound familiar?  If it does, then you need to hear the words of Jesus:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

It’s been said that if you look at anything man has made, even a perfectly polished needle, and put it under a microscope, you’d see nothing more than a rough, chipped, and dented bar of iron.  But if you’d look at anything that God has made, like the leaf of a tree, or the wing or the foot or the eye of an insect, and put them under a microscope, you wouldn’t find any flaws at all.

So it is with anything man has said.  The first time you hear it, you might be impressed.  But after a while, man’s words don’t seem so impressive anymore.

But that’s not how it is with Jesus.  You can analyze, scrutinize, divide, and dissect all you want.  You can climb as high as you want and never find the top, or dig deep as you can, and never find the bottom.  As 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon once put it:  “Its shallows are cool and refreshing for the lambs, but in its depths are pearls for which we hope to dive.”

Every letter is a gift.  Every word is a treasure.

So it is in the words of our text:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

So what did Jesus mean?  Let’s start with the word, “Come.”  Notice He didn’t say, “Go,” and neither did He say, “Find,” nor did He say, “Learn,” or “Do.”  Instead, He said:  “Come.”

It’s a simple word, really.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or young, and neither does it matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done.  You can still come.

Even more, not only is it in the present tense.  In the original, it’s in the intensely present tense.  It’s not “Come when you can,” or “Come when it’s convenient,” or “Come when you feel like it.”  It’s “Come now, at once!”

And to whom should we come?  Jesus said, “Come to Me.”

You could go to the Pharisees, but there you’ll find only the rules and traditions of men--like, don’t look in the mirror on the Sabbath, because you might be tempted to pluck out a hair, and that’s work (!), or you can spit on a rock, but not on the ground, because then you’d make mud, and that’s work(!), or you can eat a radish, but don’t dip it in salt, because it would start to pickle, and that’s work!  And don’t you dare wear jewelry or even false teeth on the Sabbath.

“Don’t go to the Pharisees,” Jesus said.  “They’ll give you nothing but the rules and traditions of men.  Come to Me.”

Sound familiar?  It should, for that’s what the prophet Isaiah once wrote:  “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters...come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”  And John wrote in his book of Revelation:  “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’  Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

It’s a word of grace, of promise, of never-ending supply.

And who should come?  Not a few, and not just some.  Instead, Jesus said:  “All.”  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden.”  Or as another translation puts it:  “All who are tired from carrying heavy loads.”

Can we talk about that for just a moment?  I don’t know just what burdens you carry, but I can guess.  Peel back the layers on any of us, and you’ll probably find a hornet’s nest of worry, anxiety, fear, depression, and failure.  Are you jealous or angry?  Do you hold grudges?  Is there a hint of pride?  Picture a turtle covered in moss.  Picture a hiker loaded with a pack of rocks.  

Jesus said:  “Whoever you are and whatever you carry, come to Me.”

Then what?  “And I…”  Jesus, the Messiah, the promised One, the sinless Son of God.  See Him in Gethsemane.  See Him on Calvary.  Watch as He steps out from that cool, open tomb.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I…”

And what will He give us when we come?  Rest.  Perfect rest.  Complete rest.  A deep rest.  An abiding rest.  A rest like the world could never, ever give.

Early church father St. Augustine of Hippo once put it like this:  “I have read Plato and Cicero’s sayings, and they’re very wise and very beautiful, but I never read in either of them, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’”

And he was right.  Buddha never said anything like that, and neither did Mohammed or Joseph Smith.  In fact, you could go to all the founders of all the religious of all the peoples and cultures of the world, and you’d never find even one of them who’s given an invitation or promise like this.

Only Jesus, the sinner’s Savior, the Redeemer of all mankind.

Ever heard of Otto Rohwedder?  Probably not!  He was an American engineer and inventor who lived in the late 18 to the mid-1900’s.  And after spending his early years in Davenport, Iowa, he moved, with his wife and two children, to St. Joseph, Missouri.  In time, he came to own three jewelry stores.

But while he was working at those jewelry stores, time after time, he overheard housewives complain about one of their most burdensome, time-consuming, and even dangerous jobs of all--slicing bread.  And it got him to thinking--what if there was a machine for bakers to pre-slice bread?

So he sold all three of his jewelry stores and began a long, painful journey to bring his idea to life.  In 1916, he built his first prototype in an abandoned warehouse just outside of town.  But no matter how hard he tried, it just wouldn’t work.  So he sketched out blueprints, hundreds of them, in hopes that something might work.  But a year later, the warehouse caught fire, which burned not only his prototype, but all of his plans.

So what did he do?  He started all over again.  Then finally, ten years later, in 1927, he managed to successfully design and build a machine that would not only slice bread, but even wrap it.  Then he sold it to a company, the Continental Baking Company, so they could make their brand, new product--Wonder Bread.

As one newspaper wrote:  “It was the greatest step forward in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”  Or as we know it today:  “It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

You know what the greatest thing ever is?  That we have a Savior who lived for us, who loved us, and who’s taken our sin away.  And it’s He who said:  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

The world, dear Father, often weighs so heavily on us.  Teach us to bring all our burdens and all our cares, that we may find our rest in You.  This we ask for Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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