6th Sunday after Pentecost (Prop 9 – A)
July 9, 2023
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel from Saint Matthew.
I remember from school that one of quickest ways to get unwanted attention from your classmates was to be summoned to the principal’s office. The second a name was announced over the intercom, the classroom would fill with “OOO” and “What’d do?” And if you had done something wrong, you knew the summons meant trouble; that perhaps detention or a call to your parents was in your future.
Usually though, the call to the principal’s office wasn’t anything to worry about; it was something simple like a note from your parents or a form to be signed. The same thing can’t be said of Christ’s summons in the Gospel. It’s nothing to fear, it’s not a summons to be punished, nor is it for something simple and ordinary. No, the summons of Jesus is one of promise as He extends His hands and invites you to come to Him.
Summons, or invitations if you prefer, are typically limited. You don’t send an invitation inviting literally everyone to your birthday party. However, the invitation to come to Jesus and find rest is an open invitation. Every single person in the world is invited to come to Christ. No one is excluded and no one is too far gone. Saint Paul told Saint Timothy: “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). You may think that someone is a lost cause, and in the end, they might be, but you don’t know. It’s why I encourage you to pray for the unbelievers and the unrepentant people you know and love. Even though you know that many resist Christ’s invitation, still invite because you just never know how they’ll respond.
Jesus says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding.” It’s not that God has refused to let them know Jesus, it’s that they’ve chosen not to know Him. The ones whom Jesus calls wise are those who think they don’t need Jesus because they know that there is no God. The ones whom He calls understanding are those who understand Christianity as just nonsense. Some say that Christianity is a crutch for the weak-minded, that the wise and understanding are the ones who really know what’s going on.
This rejection breaks God’s heart because He doesn’t want to summon anyone to face His judgment. He finds absolutely no pleasure in the death of a wicked individual because one day He will summon that individual to tell him or her: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). To reject the invitation of Jesus means that you must bear your own guilt. You alone will have to suffer God’s wrath for your sins. You will never find rest for your soul. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Christ invites you to come to Him, which means He’s inviting you to trust Him and to believe that He is the only one who can take your burdens.
Jesus says, “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.” The wise think they know it all. It’s the children who don’t have all the answers who hear Christ’s call. It’s God’s good pleasure, it brings Him immense joy to reveal Himself to those who are children. Faith is approaching Him with confidence when He summons us. Faith means trusting in what we can’t see and what doesn’t make sense. Faith is believing that Jesus came for the weak because the weak know they can’t do it themselves. These are the children that Jesus talks about. This clearly doesn’t mean that the wise can’t believe. That’s silly because I know many very intelligent Christians, I am married to one and I raised one. But even the wisest and smartest among us know that without God they’re carrying things that are just too heavy, too cumbersome, too big a burden.
Maturing children go through a stage when they want to be independent. They don’t want help because they can do it themselves. We’ve all seen this go well and not so well. Sometimes determination just won’t get it done, and the child will realize they need help.
As a child of God, you must know that you can’t do it alone. If sheer determination wasn’t enough for Paul, it won’t be for you. Paul speaks for us all when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” You cannot carry your burdens of regret, failure, and sin. You cannot bear the load of fear and worry. You can’t handle the load of a troubled marriage, or troubled kids, or aging parents. You will be crushed by the weight of trying to do it all when you act like a stubborn three-year-old. You’re heavily ladened by pressure from every direction: pressure to succeed, to achieve, to make others proud. You will collapse under the weight that comes from finding out you’re not strong enough to deal with your sin on your own. You just can’t do it. I know you think you can sometimes, but you can’t! In the Epistle, Paul makes it abundantly clear that he’s just like you. But did you catch what he said at the very end? “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
Yes indeed! Praise God that you’re not called to carry that which is too heavy for any man or woman to bear. Instead, He sent Jesus to take your crushing loads. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus doesn’t tell you to suck it up or just deal with your problem like a big boy. He tells you to come to Him! Go to Him and know that He will never turn you away because your load is too heavy.
If you reject His call eventually the loads become too much. But when you hear Him and go to Him you will find rest for your soul. He takes your burden of sin and its awful companions of guilt and shame. He knows what it is to stagger under the heavy load of regret, fear, and failure. He knows and that’s why He invites, urges, you to come to Him. Unburden yourself! Let Christ carry your load! Who else can? You’ve tried to carry it yourself. How well has that worked? It hasn’t and it never will! When you’re sick and tired, when your worn out and worn down, when you’ve collapsed under your impossible burdens, look at Jesus. Look at those nail scarred hands that are wide open and ready to take the excess weight from your heart, mind, and soul. Look to the one who invites has something completely different for you to carry.
Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” The yoke Jesus gives you in exchange for yours is the knowledge and trust that Jesus is what He says He is: gentle and lowly. He is gentle in that He doesn’t hold your sins against you. He is lowly for He gave Himself over to the cross to bear the load of your sin. He died under the burden of this worlds sinful wretchedness so you can believe that He is the only who can take your load. He’s the only one who ever offered! His yoke of pardon, relief, assurance, and His eternal love is easy and light. Hear His summons as a little child and know that it is God’s good pleasure to take everything that weighs you down and in return gives you His Son. What a comforting exchange our Lord offers to you; all that threatens to crush you in exchange for an easy yoke and the burden of incredible lightness of His summons and promised hope.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen