Sermon for Proper 9, July 9th, 2020
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Romans 7:15-25; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
We human beings are a fickle lot, aren’t we? There are times when we seem to grasp concepts and ideas far beyond our capacities, and at other times we can’t seem to get out of a cardboard box, with the opening right behind us! Earlier in Chapter 11, Jesus gives a wonderful description of John the Baptist and then asks his disciples the question, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? F man dressed in the fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” This the one about whom it is written : “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Jesus then noted that from the days of John the Baptist until then, the kingdom of heaven had been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all of the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you were willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear! May I repeat, “If you were willing to accept it?” Let me stop right at this point, every Sunday the Gospel is presented to people all across this good earth that was created just for us, and yet some hear the message, while others do not. Many will get up, clean up, and come to their church, yet they do not all prepare to listen to what God’s Word is saying to them.
Jesus then says, that John came not eating or drinking yet was accused of having a demon in him. The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a fried of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” The difference is John the Baptist, a Nazirite, and Jesus were manipulated by Jesus’ enemies. The point of the cynical attacks on Jesus and John was not the drinking or non-drinking of wine. It was just a way of discrediting one, much like we see in the political world. This was, way more serious than simple politics, but the tactics are what we witness regularly in our world today.
Jesus didn’t give them much attention, instead of focusing on the message that He came to this earth to express. He had a unique relationship of intimacy with God as His Father, one that is not possible for anyone else. He linked God the Father and God as Sovereign in one passage. God the Father rules both heaven and earth. He pictured the loving Heavenly Father acting in His sovereign ways, bringing about His loving will.
It has been said by many, smarter than I, that by becoming Christians does not make our lives easier, it is the beginning of learning and working to understand our accepting Christ and learning then, to live by His example. Yes, we can place our faith and dependence upon Him, and our load will seem lighter for sure, but we are also accepting the concept to live our lives as He did in His time on this earth. God loves you beloved, and He simply wants the very best for you. I pray that if you haven’t already accepted our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you will this day, consider doing so. May God bless and keep you all safe and healthy and living for Him. Amen
His prayer is a revelation of how God manifests Himself by making it difficult for those who see themselves as wise to understand but making it clear and simple for those who are open to and subject to learning from Him. He was a walking parable of this truth. Jesus came to reveal God as a simple Carpenter, both in humble surroundings. His simple background made it difficult for the established leaders to understand or accept. He was God’s only Son, our nearest revelation of the Father. Father and Son reveal each other. To know Christ is to see and know the Father, who reveals Him. In the same way, Christ the Son has the key to knowing God the Father and is thus the manifestation which reveals all about God any human needs to know!
The Son of Man has been given unique authority by the Father of heaven and earth to offer rest to those who respond to His invitation to become disciplined students of His. Jesus offered rest to weary and troubled. Rest is not the absence of labor, hardship, or suffering. Rest is the absence of guilt, worry, anxiety, and lack of meaning. Jesus promises meaning, hope, assurance, peace, and joy even in the troubles we must endure in life. Sure sounds like something pretty wonderful in our current state of affairs, worldwide, huh? Following Jesus does not bring the burden and guilt of trying to follow numberless legalistic rules. It brings the confidence of living in His pure love.
Beloved, God’s salvation is rest. This is in some respects comparable to the Old Testament understanding of salvation as refuge, doesn’t it? Jesus invites the weary and burdened to come to Him and find rest for their souls. The yoke He puts on persons is much easier than that of the legalistic religion taught by the scribes and Pharisees. His burdens are lighter than the burden others may put on us.
Did you “hear” the message of today’s Gospel? I pray so, because it was offered to you and if you heard it, are you now willing to accept it? Once you hear God’s message, He then asks you, we, us, to not just accept it, but take it into ourselves, which means we are then willing to open the door to our hearts and accept them inside.