Sermon Notes - July 9
Introduction: Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon ourselves for he tells us his burdens are easy and our souls will find rest. What is a yoke? A yoke was worn by an ox in order to help facilitate its ability to do the work its master wanted it to do. A yoke would make it easier for an ox to till a field, move a wagon, or some other heavy burden. The yoke caused the ox to feel discomfort should it try and ‘fight’ against it by moving in a direction the master did not want it to go in. The Stoll the priest wears is a symbol of the yoke of Christ. Most Stoll’s have a cross in its center that the priest kisses each time he puts it on and takes it off. This is to remind the priest that the yoke of Christ should be worn with joy.
I). John the Baptist is in jail and has inquired who is Jesus, is he the Messiah. Jesus responds by telling all he has done. He goes on to state in today’s Gospel a comparison of his and John’s ministry. He notes that John came fasting wearing rags and they said that he had a demon and Jesus came eating and drinking and they called him a glutton.
II). Jesus lets the people decide who he and John the Baptist are, either crazy men or are they indeed sent by God. We may want to put our own beliefs onto the people trusting that they must believe that he is the Messiah and that John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. The problem with this is that it puts our own insight and knowledge onto the people who were at this time still trying to figure out just what was happening. John the Baptist certainly had loyal followers who were wondering if John himself was perhaps the Messiah. Even Jesus points out that there has been no man born greater than John the Baptist, but then adds the caveat that anyone who enters the Kingdom of God is greater than he. As we discussed last week Jesus sees this hidden kingdom coming into our awareness as he and his disciples spread the kingdoms message.
III). Whenever Jesus encounters true need his first response is compassion. Whatever the need is, to cure a sickness, to teach about God’s Kingdom, or to simply observe the people and how hard they must strive even to accomplish the most simple of tasks. He invites them to trust in God’s goodness and to put upon themselves this yoke which is something that God will not impose upon them but something they must choose for themselves. This is something that many of us Christians have a difficult time accepting we want to impose our own standards of righteousness upon others. God never did this. Instead Jesus invites others to accept God’s law and put their whole being into fulfilling this law. Perhaps our temptation is to try and make laws we can easily obey and then try and make everyone else live up to this standard, instead of trusting that God will lead His people via their own conscience allowing them to be informed by God.