SER # 28Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY JULY 5TH 2020
TEXTS: MATTHEW 11: 16 – 19; 25 – 30
THEME: SET FREE AT LAST.
God is Good! All the time! And all the time! God is good!
Our Scripture today is Matthew: 11: 16 – 19; 25 – 30 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like a child sitting in the marketplaces calling out others. We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating of drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, look a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved to be right by her works………At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness. My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.
Come to me, all you are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
Word of God written for the people of God – Thanks be to God.
The Lord’s Prayer:
This is the 4th July weekend and families are getting together while others are travelling. It is a special weekend to our country because we remember the day, we became free at last. There were many things that had taken place before the declaration of independence on July 4th 1776. Blood was shed in some instances, many hours of negotiation and strategizing. People gave their time and even resources to make sure that America can be free. Free at last. When we read the constitution of our country, we realize that the writers had put a lot of thinking in it, God was the director. They came with the central motto, “In God we trust.” know that amendments were done with time, there were bills of right debated and included. All this was to make sure all scenarios of life were covered as they knew it. The constitution was ratified on March 4th 1789 that is 13 years after independence (July 4th 1776). There has been 27 Amendments added to the constitution. Since we are sharing about freedom, I would like to lift some freedoms enshrined in our constitution. We know of the five freedoms guaranteed in the 1st amendment that we cherish in this country
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom to petition the government
We also have several Bill of rights implemented in different amendments. I would just like to mention the following:
- Rights to bear arms – 2nd amendment
- Rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures – 4th amendment.
- Right for equal protection – 14th amendment
- Women rights to vote – 19th amendment.
All the above were enacted to make sure that the American people are free and are able to enjoy all the liberties. Therefore, the major two rights declared on independence was “Life and Pursuit of Happiness.” The people who fought for the freedom experienced unique pain more than us who try to protect that freedom. Sometimes we fall short in doing that but all of us know what it means to be free. If you don’t believe me, just observe the graduates after the graduation the is a level of joy and happiness even when you are high school graduate with more schooling waiting for them.
In our passage there is a contrast of Jesus and John on how they related with the people and how they did the ministry. John withdrew from everyday life of people while Jesus lived and eat with all people. Each received a share of criticism from the people.
Jesus wanted to set the human free from all kinds of things that were tying them down. Jesus mission was to help people start enjoying the kingdom of heaven from here. We read of Jesus mission statement in like this; “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4: 18 – 19). We can see right there that Jesus mission was for freedom. Freedom to the prisoners of sin, sight to the spiritually blind, and freedom to those oppressed by the devil. That is why he kept reminding that audience that the Kingdom of God is at hand. “The time has come,’ he said, ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
Jesus was also offering an open invitation to the people to bring all kinds of burdens and he would be more than willing to take them over. In the same way, he does invite each one of us today to bring our burdens to him. In this passage the writer of Matthew, do understand that in the path of life there is bound to be burdens that we acquire along the way. But he is more focused on the burden that are caused by our sinful nature. When it comes to sin people are like magnets because like Paul, we try to avoid it but we can’t. It is Paul who writing to the Roman church wrote these words; “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing” (Romans 7: 18b – 19).
Jesus is therefore inviting us to a freedom and the process to this freedom is simple for those willing to be set free from the bondage that the devil brings to our world.
- Acknowledge that we have a burden: We can never be helped until we realize that we need help. The freedom fighters fight because they get to a point where they can no longer contain themselves. There comes rebellion. People demonstrate on the street because they feel the system is not listening to their grievances. When it come to the spiritual battles, we have to tell the evil one enough is enough. “I can’t live any longer with the schemes of life that propagate: hate, racism, separatism, divisions or anything that does not lead me to loving God and loving neighbor. We should focus where peoples’ lives are being transformed, with the blind receiving sight, deaf able to hear, the lame able to walk, the lepers getting the cleansing and never forgetting to pass the good news to the poor. The message of transforming lives of people involves acts of mercy and justice. Some of the suffering that our people today go through is because of the unjust systems that go unchallenged by the church and the preachers. Basic need of people like food, shelter and clothing should be taken care by our systems. There is plenty of food grown in our country today yet many go hungry every day. Clothes in most home are in excess yet there are many that have no clothes to wear. That why Jesus is calling us to be that extension of God’s hand in our community.
- Bringing the burden to the Lord: When we come before the Lord and empty ourselves to him, he is willing to lift us up. There is no shame in going before our God and letting God know how much we have failed in our duties as a spouse, as a parent, neighbor even workmate. His prevenient grace holds us and point us to him. When we bring our burdens, we have to let the Lord himself take over and we will be rested. During Jesus time The Jews lived under the yoke of slavery, others under yoke Roman rule, burden of paying taxes that they never believed in (taxation with no representation we say in America). In our passage the burden represents many challenges that we face in our everyday life: People are faced with challenges of addiction, relationships, joblessness, children defiance, economic challenges, temper control, racism hate unfaithfulness and the list can go on. Whatever burden you are carrying today there is an open invitation to bring them forth before the Lord. Jesus does not select the burden he is willing to take. He says bring “bring all your burdens” to me and I will give you rest. Are you willing to let go or you are holding on? We can never be free unless we let go of all that is holding us back to be men and women that God intended us to be. We have to remember when we come to the Lord, we have to be willing to handover our burden to him. Giving over your burden to the Lord I am reminded of a story that read some while back (Preacher story). One day a driver was driving in his van when he and came across a lady who was carrying a huge load on her back. The driver stopped his van and offered the lady a ride. The lady climbed in the van and the driver started off. After driving for a few miles, he looks on the inside mirror and noticed that the woman was still carrying her. He stopped the van and asked the woman to get out with these words “I was hoping that the van will carry the load for you and you will rest but it seems that you continued carrying the load, so I am of not help;” Jesus invites us to get all the burden off but we stay holding on. Let us bring all our burdens to Jesus for he cares for us and he will give us rest.
- Take on new responsibilities: Jesus offers his yoke: There is a legend that Jesus made the best yokes in town and was very popular for that. Jesus is therefore inviting us to this image of a yoke which people then understood well. Before the age of tractors people used bulls, mules and oxen to plough the land. Even today many parts of the world use the same method to plough the land especially those owning less than 20 acres of land. When Jesus talked about the yoke his audience would truly understand what he meant. We can lift four things in understanding the yoke that Jesus is offering us today. A) The yoke of Jesus is a symbol of submission: When we are under this yoke of submission, the self-pride is taken away. It is no longer us but Christ who lives in us. May Christ increase in our lives as we decrease Paul used to say. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will hence we need to do the same. We operate under the cross not above the cross. B) The yoke of Jesus is to tool of connection: When we are under the yoke of Christ we stay connected to source of power and life. It is this connection that will keep us growing as branches on the tree. We stay connected with Christ and to one another. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. C) The yoke of Jesus is an instrument of learning: – We learn his ways and his wish as we stay under his yoke. The way to discipleship. One has to be willing to learn and ready to implement what they have learned. We learn sacrifice, we learn service and many more. d) The yoke of Jesus is a tool of discipline: We are reminded that we have to live according to his teaching if we are to continue being his disciples. A disciple is the one willing to live within the boundaries that Christ has set for us. A disciplined disciple follows the rules and trust the leader.