Matthew 11:28-30 – Isn’t Weird That Obedience Brings Freedom?

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 11:28-30
My Yoke Is Easy, My Burden Is Light

When we are teenagers and even as young adults, we resist authority. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. We want the pleasures of adulthood but none of the responsibilities. We fight against the authority of our parents who give us shelter, clothing and food. We think that we are entitled to the lifestyle that they give and the fact that our parents us but we want none of the responsibilities. We want our freedom but none of the responsibilities that come with it. We want the car, the clothes, the money but don’t want the work that comes with getting the things we want. It is only when we, as the wild horses we are as teenagers, learn to submit to our parents that we find the very freedom that we seek. When we fight against the authority of our parents, we seemingly find ourselves with less freedom than we had to begin with. When we fight against the authority of our parents, we often find out that there are consequences to our actions. The thing that we wanted so much seems to have been an empty pursuit to begin with and our parents knew it. They let us live with the consequences and let the consequences teach us about life. We find that what we were looking for was empty and vapid and that our parents really did have our best interest at heart.

Are we not like this in matters of God? We live in a society that seems to have turned its back on God because the burden of obedience is too heavy for us. We do not want it. We want the freedom to do what we want to do when we want to do it. This is the sense that we get from the previous passages in this speech from Jesus. We then see Jesus say, in Matthew 11:28-30:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus had just finished speaking of how He thanked the Father for hiding the wisdom and truth of God from the proud and arrogant. We spoke yesterday about the fact that we act like today that God does not exist because it we see ourselves as enlightened beyond the Bible. We claim it is old-fashioned now and out of step with current trends. We strip away all the things said in the Bible that are antithetical to how we want to live our lifestyles now. We turn our back on God and call it enlightenment. We blatantly thumb our noses at God so that we can pursue what we want to pursue. Submission to God through His Word seems old-fashioned and burdensome to us today. Jesus sets for us a contrast in these verses. He tells us through submission to Him, an apparent loss of freedom, that we find freedom. We find that through taking on the yoke of Christ that we actually do find rest for our soul, that happiness that we all seem to be looking for. The yoke of which Jesus speaks is freedom the legalistic keeping of rules and regulations exchanged for the slavery of relationship with Him. The yoke of which Jesus speaks is a light burden in exchange for freedom from the emptiness of rebellion. The yoke of which Jesus speaks is the learning of the true nature of God in which we willingly submit to His parenthood. We find freedom in what we once considered slavery.

The yoke of Christ is in contrast to those that legalistically try to make Christianity about keeping rules as evidence of our Christianity. We are sometimes like the Pharisees in this regard when we reduce Christianity to a set of rules to be kept, a list of do’s and don’t’s. This type of Christianity I do not want to be a part of either. This is the Christianity that most non-believers perceive of Christianity. We are seen as the arbiters and judges of what is moral and what is right. We are seen as judgmental as a result. The Jews of Jesus’ day had become the same way. Leave it to us as humans to screw up what God gave us. Sure, God gave us the Law to guide our lives but His purpose in creating the Law was not for us to seek to avoid breaking it but rather for us to see our need for Jesus. None of us can keep the law 100% of the time for 100% of our life. We are sin-filled creatures and it is the law that makes us aware of our need for an intervention from Jesus Christ to save us from our sin. In the absence of the Law, we do not know of our need for a Savior. That is the beauty of the Law is that it points us to our need for a Savior. However, we can make the law and the avoidance of being bad as the entire aim of our lives and we miss Jesus as a result. Avoiding sin rather than embracing Jesus Christ is a heavy burden when you consider our sin nature is miring us in sin to begin with. Jesus says that relationship with Him is a release from that awful burden. When we seek Jesus as our Savior, He sends us the Holy Spirit who works on us for the rest of our lives to make us more like Christ. We become so in love with Jesus that we submit to His will and see life as about pleasing Him rather than keeping rules. Keeping rules is not what Jesus wants. He wants us to love Him so much that our obedience to Him comes from the overflow of our love for Him.

The yoke of Jesus, submission to Him, is where we find freedom from the emptiness of rebellion. Think back to growing up once more. We often saw our parents as old-fashioned and that their rules were just to hold us back from doing what we wanted to do. The rules of our parents had no other purpose than to restrict us. We wanted our freedom. We wanted to do whatever we wanted without the hindrances of their rules. The thing that we did not know what that our parents were teenagers once too. Our teenagers had life experiences that taught them about the consequences of poor decisions. What we did not see what that the rules that had for us were not just to screw with us but rather were the result of not wanting to see us fall into the same traps that they did when they were our age. We just saw rules that kept us from living the lifestyle that we wanted to live. We fought against their rules. We rebelled. They reacted. We ended up then with less freedom than we had before. Isn’t our society that way today? Look at the costs of sexual freedom. Broken homes. Single parent homes. Families living in poverty and on government assistance because one parent walks away from responsibility. Crime increases because of fatherless homes resulting from divorce and not caring about the families we leave behind. The cost of sexual freedom and lack of sexual responsibility has a cost that is staggering. Divorce itself is an industry that sucks billions out of our economy that has no productive return. Who knows the impact that cannot be calculating yet of children growing up in homes with parents who are of the same sex. There will be the hidden costs to society of this new development that we will only begin calculating in the next generation. Our self-seeking, our self-serving, me only lifestyles will lead to our own destruction and lead to burdens and consequences that we are only beginning to see. What freedom is there in that? But it’s all enlightened society right? Do you feel more free now in the messed up world in which we now live? So, it is Christ that says, submit to me and the Word of God. It is in the obedience to God’s Word that we find meaning and purpose to our lives. It is in submission to Him that we find answers to the questions that we have. It is through submission and obedience to Him that we find true freedom. We find that obedience to Him is actually more freeing that the results of our rebellion against His Word. It is in Christ that we find freedom. Just as a child who follows his parent’s leadership finds that he has more of their trust and has more freedom than he ever did when he was rebelling against them, we find that we are finally free in Christ by submitting to Him.

When we submit to the Lordship of Christ, we begin to learn about the nature of God. We find that we desire a deeper relationship with Him. We find that what we saw as rules that we did not want to keep are simply God’s wisdom for a better life for us. We are kids who want to eat all their candy at once and God says once piece occasionally. God does not want to hold us back from our candy but He does not know from His eternal wisdom that eating too much candy all at once will make us sick. Just because we can do something does not mean that we should. We learn from God through Christ that obedience is not about just keeping rules, it is because God has our best interest at heart. He loves us so much that He does not want to see us fall off the cliffs of our lives. When we fall in love with Jesus Christ, the burden of his yoke is not something we fight against. It is a light guide to our lives. We seek to please God. We trust Him to know what is best for us better than we know it. He is God. We are simply limited humans. We trust God to know that certain roads will lead us to destruction. We say OK God I see where you say that we should not take this road, and I trust that. I will not go down that road. In abiding in Christ, there is this love of God and trusting that He’s got our back for our own good that comes comfort. In that obedience, we feel safe and secure and in that we find freedom. A freedom that you will never understand until we fully submit to Christ. The yoke is seen as a welcome thing then. It is what keeps us safe and free from harm. It is a light burden. The yoke is there to keep us from harm.

It is in Christ’s yoke that we find our freedom. Lord, place your yoke upon me. I trust that you will guide me to the life that you want me to live. Amen and amen.

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