The Sermon for Matthew 11:25–30
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church; Hoopeston, IL
Rev. James T. Batchelor
Just because you don’t believe it; that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.
I remember when President Kennedy was assassinated. I first heard the news out on the school playground. One of my fellow students came to tell me the news. I thought this student was trying to play some sort of cruel prank on me. I didn’t believe a word of it. Never the less, a few days later, we were gathered together in the eighth grade classroom watching the funeral of John F. Kennedy. I didn’t believe it when I heard it, but it was the truth never the less.
Just because you do believe it; that doesn’t mean that it is true.
At least once a week, I receive startling pieces of information in my e-mail box. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who has been dead since 1995, is still trying to get congress to forbid Christian broadcasting. Tupperware containers emit a deadly, cancer causing gas when used in a micro-wave oven. Bill Gates and Microsoft are conducting experiments with Internet Explorer that can earn you a check for thousands of dollars if you help them by forwarding this e-mail to twelve of your best friends. All of these e-mail messages and thousands of others like them are false. Never the less, millions of Internet users all over the world continue to forward these e-mails to their friends because they think they are true.
People often make the same mistake in their spiritual lives as well. I have often heard many people say something like the following: “When I think of God, I see an all inclusive God who just loves everyone. I just can’t accept a God who judges and condemns something as old fashioned as sin. No, my god is different.” As an anonymous philosopher once said, “On the sixth day God created man. On the seventh day, man returned the favor.” People have used God’s gifts of knowledge and wisdom to come up with all kinds of custom designer gods.
There are people in this world who believe that the proper application of reason can discover the true God. When reason turns up a variety of different gods, they simply state that god means different things to different people, and any person’s concept of god is legitimate for that person. When such people hear about the true God, they often refuse to believe because the true God doesn’t match their personal designer image of god. They fall prey to the false idea that just because they don’t like the God of the Bible; that He doesn’t exist.
Jesus dealt with the same kind of thoughts in His day. 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.”
The wise and understanding that Jesus speaks of are those who use their wisdom and understanding to create their own designer god and then refuse to believe the true God when He stands before them in the person of Jesus Christ. Such people may not realize it, but by making their god conform to their wisdom and understanding, they are placing themselves over their god. They are making themselves into their god’s boss. This is a problem that mankind has had ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.
Jesus contrasted those who are wise and understanding in the world’s eyes with those who are like little children in the world’s eyes. The Greek word that is translated as little children can also mean those who think like children. It does NOT mean those who are childish, but those who are child-like. Such people realize that their wisdom and understanding aren’t that great. They understand that any god that conforms to the wisdom and understanding of any mere human being can’t really be much of a god.
Jesus declared, “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.” With these words, Jesus tells that no one can know anything specific about God unless God reveals it to him. More specifically, God the Father and God the Son have a natural knowledge of each other. The only way for anyone who is not God to know the true God is for Jesus, the Son of God to reveal this knowledge to him. As Jesus told Thomas and the other disciples, [John 14:6-7] “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” Jesus alone is the only one who is God and man, and Jesus alone is the only one who reveals God to Man.
So, what does Jesus reveal to us about God? Jesus continued His statements with these words, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here we learn that God wants to relieve us of our burdens and give us rest.
When God created the world, work was a joy. It was always fulfilling. Adam and Eve could go to sleep at the end of the day knowing that their work was pleasing in God’s sight.
That all changed when Adam and Eve sinned. Work became a burden. Today, even those who really enjoy their work have days of frustration. For most people, work is a necessary evil that puts food on the table, clothes on the back, and a roof over the head. It is something to avoid if possible.
The real burden, though, is something much worse than the frustration of an unfulfilling job. It is the knowledge that no matter what we do, it is never good enough. It is the knowledge that we have so many sins that we don’t even know about most of them. It is the terror of the eternal punishment that sin deserves. It is the terrible realization that no amount of labor on our part can free us from the burden of this punishment.
When Jesus reveals God, He reveals Him as one who invites those who suffer under the burden of their sin to come to Him for rest. Only Jesus can relieve us of our burdens and give us rest from our sin and guilt. For Jesus is the only one who is worthy enough to take our burden of sin from us. Only Jesus walked this earth in perfection. Therefore, only Jesus can lift the labor and burden of our sins from us and place them onto Himself. He is the only one who could carry our burden with His labor of suffering and death on the cross. He it is who carried our sin burden to the grave even as He was buried. And He it is who left our sin burden buried forever with His resurrection from the dead. This is the God who Jesus reveals to us – the god who wishes to relieve us of our burden of sin and replace it with His rest.
How do we, here in the twenty-first century, receive the gifts of rest that Jesus reveals to us and earned for us? His words connect us to Him. His words still reveal the God who wants to relieve us of our burden. His words still reveal the God who wants to give us rest. As Jesus’ words reveal the true God to us, the Holy Spirit uses those words to create faith in us. It is this gift of faith that trusts in Jesus only that receives the true rest of the forgiveness of sins. It is through this gift of faith that the Holy Spirit gives all of God’s gifts to us.
Jesus Christ offers Himself to us in His Word. His is the only word that reveals God to us. His word is the only word that removes the burden of sin and replaces it with the rest of righteousness. His Word is the only word through which the Holy Spirit works faith. His Word is an open invitation to all men to find their temporal and eternal rest in the God-man, Jesus Christ. Amen