Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 11:20-12:8
Jesus promised us to give rest in our life. Jesus invites us, who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens. Why are we weary and carrying heavy burdens? How can we have rest that Jesus promised?
There are two reasons for our heavy burdens: (1) When we keep our sins (Matthew 11: 20-24) and (2) when we are caught in the legalism (Matthew 12:1-8) we are weary. Even the wise and intelligent would not know true rest, joy and peace that Jesus offers when we are in those two traps.
When we keep our sins, we are far away from God. Sins block our way to God, our Father. When our children do something bad, they would hide from our sight. When we ask them what is wrong, they would answer nothing particular. Adam and Eve hid behind the tree when they heard the sound of God after they did what God forbid. Then the showers of blessings from God cannot reach to us! Our lives become miserable. We become weary and heavy burdened.
When our relationship with God is broken, all the miracles do not seem impressive! Same thing happens in our human relationship. If you are in conflict with your spouse, the title, the success, the achievements of your spouse do not make any dent on your soul! A child of a successful parent will scorn the parent’s achievement with mockery when their relationship is disconnected. When we are sinful, in other words, far away from God, the miracles do not promote our faith. The City Carpernaum, the home town of Peter, Andrew, James, John (the first four disciples) and the tax collector Matthew did not repent after all the powerful deed and teachings done by Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum on Sabbath (Luke 4:31-44). Jesus then healed a man who had the evil spirit and healed a fever in Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus also cured the servant of a Roman centurion (Luke 7:1-10) and a paralytic lowered through the roof to reach Jesus in Carpernaum (Mark 2:1). It was the first town where Jesus did ministry after he left Nazareth, his home town. Miracles do not make us to repent but repentance will bring us miracles!
On the other hand, when we keep the laws legalistically, we cannot experience God’s grace, either. We are busy with counting the mistakes that we and others make. We are frustrated with our own failures and criticize the flaws of others. We judge others and ourselves relentlessly and have neither peace nor joy in our heart. When we truly understand the laws we are not trapped by them but we can use them to save people. Laws are for lives; lives are not for laws. Laws help us to see how helpless we are and lead us to Faith. After we are born again, laws help us to grow in Faith.
However, we has used Biblical Law and legal laws to have dominion over another person for financial gain and for power. For example, during the slavery movement in our country individuals used Biblical content to grant themselves permission to not do anything about slavery. Laws were put on civil books that ensured the oppression of an entire race. Slavery is an abomination in the sight of God. John Wesley preached this and was frowned on by his fellow Methodist preachers when he spoke up against it. The Bible teaches love there is nothing that can be found on its pages that teaches us to hate someone because of the color of their skin, their gender or age. On the contrary time and time again we are asked by Jesus to love each other as he loves us! We are asked to be our brother’s keeper in their time of need regardless of whom they are. Jesus is calling us all to overcome our prejudices and stereotypes so that we can share in the glory of a blessed life.
(This bold part is written and delivered by our lay leader, Micheal Pope, in the worship service in my sermon time to celebrate the Black History Month.)
- What are the laws in the Bible that have lost its original meaning and been abused?
- What are the sins that we have to confess to enjoy the true rest that Jesus promised?