Give Your Burdens to Jesus
A sermon based on Matthew 11:25-30
Sunday, July 31, 2011 – Pentecost 7A
I'm sure you've all seen the guy. In fact, maybe you are that guy. You know the one—that guy in the grocery store who refuses to grab a cart or even the little basket. He's got the back of dog food over one shoulder, the toilet paper tucked under one arm, the produce and groceries are carefully balanced in his arms, with the eggs held on top by his chin and a few gallons of milk painfully dangling off the ends of his pinkies. You wonder how he's going to pick anything more up while he carefully works his way through the store for a few more items.
And sometimes we all do this, try to carry everything on our own without any help. But we don't do it just in the grocery store, but in life. We think we can juggle the problems that we have on our own. We can carry the weight of our burdens. We even think we can deal with our sins. And while it can be humorous to watch that guy in the grocery store, but it's not so funny when it's your life. Because the consequences of trying to carry it all on our own are far worse than a few broken eggs on isle one—the consequences are burn out, despair, and ultimately hell.
But this morning, as we conclude our sermon series on the jobs that Jesus has to care for us in grace, we hear Jesus, the weightlifter give us a beautiful promise. He says he will give you rest by carrying your burdens for you. So don't try to carry them yourself! Give your burdens to Jesus! He's strong enough to carry your sin and he's willing to carry it all. Listen now to the comforting words of Jesus recorded for us in Matthew 11:25-30…
25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I. He's Strong Enough to Carry Your Sin
What burdens do you face in life? What loads are you trying to carry? Are you facing financial problems as you continue to look for a job or try to keep the one you have or get out from under a mountain of debt? Are you dealing with family problems, trying to get the kids to shape up, trying to be on the same team as your spouse, trying to live with your parents and get along? Are you facing physical burdens with failing health, lingering pain, or just the aches of growing older?
As serious as these burdens are, they're nothing compared to your real burden. Sin is the heaviest burden that you have to bear. It's a self-imposed burden. It's one that you can't shake off on your own. It's one that must be answered with, not just poverty or pain, but with an eternity of torment, agony, regret and despair in hell. And it's a burden that's too heavy for us to lift. We can't bear the load. It's like carrying two elephants, one on each shoulder. I don't care how much you've been working out. You just can't do it. It's too heavy for you.
Think I'm painting too grim of a picture? Making sin sound larger than it really is? Don't think your sin is that big of a deal—at least not compared to the other problems you're facing? That's precisely why it is such a big deal! In fact, here's the irony: When we try to get rid of sin on our own or downplay our sin, we only add to our sin making matters worse. For thinking we can carry the weight of the problems of life on our own, let alone our sins! For (in essence) saying to Jesus, "Thanks for the offer, but I don't need your help here. I'm just fine on my own. I'll carry it myself," for such arrogant pride, we deserve hell all the more!
You see how serious this weight is? Like the Chinese finger trap, the harder we try to pull free, the tighter we're stuck! We can't escape our problems on our own. And we certainly can't escape our sins on our own. We can't even come to faith on our own or figure it out. That's why Jesus says it's hidden from the "wise and learned." The stronger you think you are, the greater the burden you carry, and the weaker you really are. No one is strong enough to deal with these burdens. No one, that is, but one…
"Come to me," Jesus says, "all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." "Come to me," he says, "…and you will find rest for your souls." Jesus, the Weightlifter, is strong enough to lift your burdens. He can lift the weight of all your sins. He did lift the weight of all your sins and all the sins of every person who ever lived or ever will live! What a strongman!
And what's more, when you could never discover that truth on your own, he's revealed it you. You're not superior in your intelligence because you've figured out how to get rid of the weight. He's superior in his grace for revealing to you the solution to your biggest burden of sin! Because of his grace to you, you know Jesus and God the Father whom he's revealed. You know what they've done to lift your sin from you.
Lifting weights by yourself can be a dangerous task. A young man was once lifting weights in the garage by himself when, near the end of his workout as his muscles were growing weary, the barbell he was bench pressing slipped from his grasp and crashed hard onto his chest before rolling onto his neck. He struggled to roll the bar off, but he couldn't. It could have been a fatal accident had his father not heard his cry and come running to pull the weight off his son.
In a much greater way, Jesus pulled the weight of sin off of you. He took the guilt and the shame, the unkind words you've said and the impure thoughts you've though, he took the irresponsible and inconsiderate things that you've done, and he picked them up. He took the crushing weight that would send you to hell and put them on his back. Then he carried them to the cross in your place. And enduring hell, being crushed for your iniquities (cf. Isaiah 53:5), he brought you peace. He brought you rest—rest for your soul.
Are you wearied by your sin? Are you burdened by your guilt? Go to Jesus. He promises to give you rest. He lifted your sin on his back to win that rest for you. And he promises to help in all your needs….
II. He's Willing to Carry It All
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Of course he especially meant rest from your sin and guilt, from despair and hell. But he also offers you rest from all the other burdens that you face. Here's the confidence that we have: 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? … 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He may not take every problem or burden of this life from you, but since he took away the burden of your sin, you can be confident that he is there to help you with every other burden that you carry and give you rest. So go to him! Don't carry your burdens around by yourself anymore!
When I was in high school every summer I'd go hiking in the Cascade Mountains for a few days. We'd load the tent, the sleeping bags, and all the food you'd eat for four days on our backs. We'd each carry a full canteen of water since we weren't always sure when we'd find the next river. And with some pretty steep inclines and difficult climbs the packs felt a lot heavier than I'm sure they really were. I vividly remember the relief I felt as we took the packs off for the last time that day and started to make camp.
Can you imagine how foolish it would be if I kept my pack on while we pitched the tent, made dinner, went to the river to filter more water, ate our meal, and went fishing after dinner? You'd think I was crazy! But isn't that what we do when we carry around our burdens? Jesus says, take that pack off your shoulders and give it to me. So let go! Give it to him! Place your worries and concerns in his hands with a childlike faith.
Isn't it interesting to note that God hides his will "from the wise and learned, and [reveals] them to little children"? The Greek word translated "children" is the word used for infants and babies who drink milk, not solid food. Jesus calls for us to trust him to carry our burdens with the faith of a little kid.
When we lived in Raleigh, there's was a trail behind our house that I often took the boys hiking on. But typically we'd get ¼ mile from home and one of them would say, "Daddy, carry me." I don't think either of my boys ever said, "Father, would you please be so kind as to exercise your superior strength to overcome the forces of gravity bearing down my body because I know that though it's a difficult burden for me to go on, it's an easy task for you." Just, "Daddy, carry me." They did not understand the physics of lifting. They only knew they were tired and didn't want to carry their own weight. They trusted me to carry them.
Do the same with Jesus. He wants to carry your burdens and give you an easy yoke. Wait a second! Easy yoke? Isn't that an oxymoron! A yoke is that bar across the shoulders of the oxen that was attached to the plow that they would pull with much labor. But Jesus says, "Be yoked to me. Let me do the work as you walk by my side." What an easy yoke! What a light burden!
So let him lift the frustration that you feel with the apostle Paul as you wrestle with your sinful nature. Yes, we're wretched people who keep on sinning in spite of his grace, but we're rescued from these bodies of death by Jesus (cf. Romans 7:15-25a) Jesus has shown you his glory in a much better way than Moses ever saw. You've seen clearly exactly how he's lifted your burden of sin. And you know that he promises to you, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (cf. Exodus 33:12-23)
He will go with you as you remember the rich blessings he gives you in the cross and find peace and contentment in the blessings that you have while you continue to struggle financially. And you can find rest for your soul. He will go with you as you remember his selfless sacrifice for you and strive to be selfless in your relationships with others in thanks to him. And you can find rest for your soul. He will go with you as you struggle with your physical health assuring you of the perfect spiritual health that he gives. And you can find rest for your soul. And finally, one day soon, he'll deliver you once and for all from every burden and every care! He'll rescue you from your body of death and take you to eternal life, where you will forever have rest for your soul.
Be at peace, dear friends. Rest in Jesus and give your burdens to him. He's strong enough to carry your sin and he's willing to carry it all. In his name, dear friends. Amen.