The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Come to Me”
July 9, 2017
Sermon Text: Matthew 11:25-30
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
What an honor and privilege it is to hear the Word of God and consider it this morning… to take it in… to have ears that spiritually hear… the ears of faith, that is, which we have been graciously given through the Holy Spirit. And to have hearts that hear as well… minds that hear… again, all by the Spirit working mightily in us.
For it is God in Christ Jesus who speaks to us today – directly, personally and passionately… including where He says to us… all of us… “Come to Me.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I would be very surprised if this passage does not rank high on the list of everyone’s favorites. And to understand and appreciate the full import of this amazing invitation issued by our Savior, we would do well to consider the context of the same.
Our Gospel text begins by simply saying, “At that time Jesus declared” (Matthew 11:25). What “time” would that be?
The answer? St. Matthew tells us that it is the time right after our Lord denounced “the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Christ declared, ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.’”
He goes on to say, “’But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.’” (Matthew 11:20-24)
Hmm. Interesting. Two weeks in a row we have heard unpleasant words spoken by Christ the Lord. Last week, we considered Jesus saying to us and to all, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Unpleasant, but true. Unpleasant, but needed including what was said of these towns and cities. The message needed to be said and heard loud and clear then and now, by us and all… regarding what will happen to the unfaithful and the unregenerate… to those who refuse to believe and to repent… to those who continue in their sinful ways, wicked ways, evil ways.
Our Lord mentions towns, but we know He is speaking not of buildings and houses, but of people… men, women, teenagers and children… to all who refuse Him… refuse His Word… and remain in their obstinate ways. People who in the hardness of their hearts would rather cling to their ways than to follow the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
And then it is that our text begins, “At that time 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; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and 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.” (Matthew 11:25-27)
It seems odd that Jesus would be thankful to the Father that He has hidden the priceless treasures that are ours in faith, through faith. And we dare not read into this that those to whom it is hidden never had the chance or ability to find the same… to find these treasures… to find forgiveness and eternal life because they… like us… didn’t have to “find” anything… it was God in Christ Jesus who found them… who found us and offered the treasures of life and salvation to us free of charge.
These people did have the opportunity as again and again “mighty works” were done in their presence as our Lord said… as our Lord Himself did those works, performed those works… but they were too blind to see it… their hearts to hardened to believe and accept it… to accept Him, the very Son of God who, out of love, came to save them… to spare them from the wrath to come… the wrath that will soon be upon them and all who do not believe.
You will remember all of the mighty works God did before Pharaoh through His servant Moses… and still this ruler of Egypt would not relent… he would not obey God’s command to let the people go. And so, the Almighty let Pharaoh’s heart be hardened as He will let… He will allow… all of the divine treasures offered and provided in His only Begotten Son… continue to be hidden to those who will not seek the same, who refuse the same and even, if given the opportunity, would trample these divine gifts underfoot.
You will remember that it is our Savior who declares to us, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew. 7:6)
My friends, there were “dogs” in Chorazin and “pigs” in Bethsaida as well as Capernaum and this is by no means a reference to animals.
There were “dogs” in Chorazin and “pigs” in Bethsaida as well as Capernaum as there are the same all around us today, to whom the wonderful things of God… the eternal things of God are hidden. And the tragedy is… it is of their own doing.
But it is interesting that right after telling us, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs,” Christ goes on to say to us and all who will, by God’s grace, believe… who will heartily repent of their sins and confess that Jesus is Lord… to us He wonderfully goes on to say,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew. 7:7)
Nothing will be hidden from us. Nothing held back in regard to what is ours in Christ Jesus now and the fullness of the same enjoyed in heaven for all eternity. And for this, we cannot wait.
We cannot wait to be with our Lord in paradise… free, finally free from all the hassles… from all of the fighting… from having to be always on guard… and all of this far more in a spiritual sense than a worldly one.
Indeed, the assaults on our flesh pale in comparison to the assaults on our soul and the attempts by the Old Adam in us, by the world and by Satan himself to drag us back into the darkness of sin and selfishness… to drag us back into the pack of wild dogs and herds of swine wallowing in the swill of this world.
It is tough. Being a Christian is tough. Remaining faithful is tough. The fight before us is tough and it would all be too much if it wasn’t for the fact that we already know the battle is won. And this in Christ Jesus.
It would be too much if it wasn’t for the fact that every fight of faith is taken on with Christ at our side… with us having on the whole armor of God which He so lovingly provides.
It would all be too much, this world and our fleshly struggles… our spiritual struggles, if it wasn’t for our Savior, who again and again, calls us to Himself that we may be cared for and consoled, strengthen and refreshed. He who says to us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
And we take Him up on His gracious offer… we heed His command and the divine imperative He gives… for there is no making it as a Christian, no living through this life as a Christian without our “coming to Jesus” which is what we do daily as we read the Word of God. It is what we do often, weekly if not more frequently, as we gather in His holy sanctuary and hear His Word and take into our mouths His very Body and Blood.
We come to Jesus labored and heavy laden by so much, with so much and we truly find rest. We truly find peace. We truly find in Him… in Jesus the physical and spiritual fortitude to carry on… to go on… move on, push on until the race is ended and our work is done here on earth… our oh-so brief sojourn here below.
I remember years ago picking up my children when they were babies as they were crying their eyes out, so upset, and to see them calm down in a warm embrace… in strong arms that held them so securely and to watch them truly be at peace… to watch them fall asleep and truly be at rest.
What we have in Jesus all the time… any time… is infinitely more than that.
Don’t try to go it alone. Instead, hear your Savior say to you now and always – “Come to Me.” He is here for you to wipe every tear from your eyes and to give you much needed rest. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Come to Me” 7/9/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Loc