Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
25 April 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
“For forty years I was strenuously and slavishly working for my salvation, and then, thanks to God’s amazing grace, I realised it was a free gift”
(Former Jehovah’s Witness)
Reading: Matthew 11:25-30;
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
Here, Jesus, having claimed to be the revelation of God, is now offering God’s answer to the burdens, the pains, the trials of life; and that answer is Himself and His kingdom. If we were to list all the people who Jesus ministered to and brought into His kingdom we might be surprised to see that there were many very needy and poor people amongst them: think of the twelve He chose to be His close followers; the vast crowds that followed Him (Matt. 4:25; 5:1); think of those He referred to in the Sermon on the Mount – ‘the poor in spirit’, ‘those who mourn’, ‘the meek’; then there were the outcasts of society, including the demon-possessed, those too ill to work and had to spend their lives begging, including those with leprosy, the paralysed, the blind and the mute; the woman subject to bleeding for twelve years; the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon-possessed and suffering terribly; think of ourselves! This brings to mind the story in 1 Samuel:
All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented [‘bitter in soul’] gathered round him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.1 Samuel 22:2
These people, weak instruments as they were, had reached breaking point; they’d had enough of the tyrannical rule of King Saul, and sought out David who willingly received all those who came to him. Yes, they might presently be weak instruments but David turned them into mighty warriors. These people found refuge in David because he, himself, found refuge in the Lord, when he had nowhere else to find refuge. Note the cave of Adullam where David escaped to (1 Samuel 22:1) means “a hiding place; turn aside; retreat; refuge”. And note his prayers when he was in the cave e.g.
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.Psalm 57:1
I cry to you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.Ps. 142:5, 7
David probably wouldn’t have chosen these people himself, people who had many problems, but they were the people the Lord brought to him, when he was at one of the lowest points of his life. Is this not true of all those who come to King Jesus, they have had enough of the tyrannical rule of Satan (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3), and they look to another, to Jesus, the Saviour of the world, who welcomes them into His eternal kingdom and transforms them into His likeness from one degree of glory to the next, in preparation for the time when He shall reign over all and every knee will bow before Him.
(1) “Come to me”
Here we see the longing in Jesus’ heart for people, all sorts of people, to come to Him. Feel the pain and longing in His heart, even for sinful, rebellious, hard-hearted Jerusalem to come to Him,
O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.Matthew 23:37
And how He longs to give His Spirit to those who will come to Him,
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive …John 7:37-39
Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems, so come to Him!
(2) “All …”
Jesus’ invitation is to all, and yet He knows only those who are aware of their need will come and benefit from coming to Him. Only people who realise they are sick will visit the doctor and here is Jesus’ open-ended invitation to all those who realise they are needy, to come to Him. Our text is sandwiched between Matt 11:20-24, in which Jesus denounces all those who refuse to come to Him, and Matt 12:1-14, where rather than come to Jesus, after He had healed the man with a shrivelled hand, the Pharisees respond thus:
the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill JesusMatt. 12:14
Jesus has referred to those who will come as ‘little children’ (Matt. 11:25); those He refers to as His ‘mothers and brothers’ (Matt 12:49); ‘those to whom the Son chooses to reveal the Father‘ (Matt. 11:27); these are Jesus’ true disciples. They are little children, or little ones (Luke 10:21), compared to those whom the world regards as important. Note, it is “the wise and learned” (Matt. 11:25), who ignore the offer which is to all “Come to me all …” (Matt 11:28) and yet there is a requirement for those who come to acknowledge their need and to submit to Jesus yoke and learn from Him. cf.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.1 Cor. 1:26-31
(3) “you who are weary and burdened”
The words ‘weary and burdened’ literally mean, ‘toiling and loading’ and “may be metaphors for the difficulties and pressures of life in general” (R T France). cf.
Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”Luke 5:5
But they might also refer to the ‘heavy loads’ the religious leaders placed upon the people:
Jesus replied, “You experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them”.Luke 11:46
(see also Matt. 23:4).
(4) “I will give you rest … you will find rest for your souls”
This means ‘rest from your labour’ and by implication, ‘refreshment‘ pointing us to the great blessing and glorious rest that will be for those who have remained faithful to Jesus,
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labour’.Rev 14:13
the eternal Sabbath rest for God’s people,
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His.Heb. 4:9-10
But it also refers in a very real sense to the ‘rest’, the ‘refreshment’ the believer enjoys in this life, e.g. from brothers and sisters in the Lord,
For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.1 Cor. 16:18
By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.2 Cor. 7:13
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people …I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.Philemon 1:7, 20
Being ‘yoked’ to Jesus is to daily rest in Him and to be refreshed by Him, which begins the moment we come to Him.
(5) “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”
Jesus’ yoke is a yoke of love and a yoke of the Kingdom, contrasted to the yoke of the religion of the Law and what the scribes and Pharisees added to it. The word for ‘disciple’ has the same root as the word for ‘learn’ here, a disciple’s life is a life of being yoked to Jesus and learning from Him. The animal yoke, which harnesses two animals together, to pull a plough or cart, is a good illustration of lives yoked with Jesus, living His life, and doing His work, in His way. We can liken the yoke of Jesus to the yoke of love Jacob had with Rachel and how he worked for Laban for 7 years to get her,
So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.Genesis 29:20
“It is the yoke of love, not of duty. It is the response of the liberated not of the obligated. And that makes all the difference.”
Michael Green, in his commentary on Matthew
(6) “for I am gentle and humble in heart”
The yoke is of One who is gentle (meek) and humble of heart; those who walk with Him, yoked to Him, must also be gentle (meek) and humble of heart.
“A ‘yoke’ implies obedience … often slavery (Gal. 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”; cf. 1 Tim 6:1); what makes all the difference is what sort of master one is serving.”
R T France
We saw on Palm Sunday how King Jesus entered Jerusalem,
Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle (meek) and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”Matthew 21:5
Jesus promised whoever so walks with Him, yoked with Him in gentleness and meekness, shall inherit and rule the earth,
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.Matt. 5:5
Take a few moments and come to Jesus with:
- any worries you have;
- any problems;
- any people who trouble you;
- any issues that you don’t seem to be able to resolve, and
- anything else that is making your life feel like you are carrying a heavy load.
Meditate on Jesus who is gentle, meek and humble of heart and tell Him all about it. Now allow Him to deal with it. Picture Him taking that heavy load off you and replacing it with His loving and gentle yoke. Receive His yoke in place of the other one, Amen.
Questions for Discussion
- Is it possible to be meek and humble and not become a doormat?
- Share about your “Adullam” – the place you found refuge, when there was nowhere else to go?
- Are we open to those who are discontented, downcast, in debt to come to us at Bethel?
- Share a time when you were refreshed by the saints?
- When did you first experience the difference between the ‘religious’ burden you were carrying and Jesus’ light burden?
“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”
Corrie Ten Boom
Verse of the week
Then Jesus said to His host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”.Luke 14:12-14
Lord Jesus Christ, we come to You, the One who is humble, meek and gentle. We thank you that You long for us to come to You and that we can come whenever, and in whatever state we are in. Thank you that You lift the heavy burdens off us, and in their place, give us Your light burden. Thank You for Your rest and refreshment and the same which we experience from our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Refresh Your people throughout this world that they might the more shine for You and be glorious witnesses to You, and to Your gentleness and humility.
O Lord, as we see in days to come an ending of this pandemic, may Your Church flourish, may You pour out Your Holy Spirit, and may many, many, more come to You for rest and refreshment, in Jesus Christ our gentle, meek and humble Lord and Saviour, Amen!