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Come to Me All Who Labor...
Text: Matthew 11:25-30
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

Beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ, here at Luther Memorial Chapel. Grace to you and peace. Amen.

How’s your search coming? All around us, people are looking. The wise and understanding look within science, that is in math, biology, chemistry or physics. The cultured are looking in the arts, whether modern or ancient, it doesn’t matter. The historians flip through the pages of history looking for the answer. Yet, in all these places, the answer to the question will not be found.
Come to Me All Who Labor...
Text: Matthew 11:25-30
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

Beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ, here at Luther Memorial Chapel. Grace to you and peace. Amen.

How’s your search coming? All around us, people are looking. The wise and understanding look within science, that is in math, biology, chemistry or physics. The cultured are looking in the arts, whether modern or ancient, it doesn’t matter. The historians flip through the pages of history looking for the answer. Yet, in all these places, the answer to the question will not be found.

We often find ourselves looking as well. Skimming through the self-help section of the bookstore reveals our obsession with the question. The books on Oprah’s list reveal our incessant search to figure out the answer. Where do we find this special knowledge? Where do we find this secret?

But to little children the Father has revealed the answer.

Let’s begin with the question. It takes many forms. “Who is God? Where do I find peace and rest? What meaning is there in life? Why do I have to endure all this suffering?” The questions could go on forever. They all look for the same answer, though they are asking different questions. They want the answer to sin. Suffering results from sin. The only way therefore to deal with suffering is to deal with sin. “Who is God?” God is the one capable of dealing with sin. “Where do I find peace and rest?” If you are searching for peace and rest, you are searching for freedom from the tribulations of sin in your life.

Our culture finds the answer in various places. Oprah finds the answer in secret hidden knowledge attainable to those who search within themselves. The sciences find the answer in attempting to plumb the depths of nature. Many of our young people have fallen prey to the notion of eastern mysticism that we meditate ourselves to peace or change our karma to have peace. If only we dig further, we can solve suffering. Historians assure themselves that if they know enough, they will not have to fear any more problems.

“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...” (Matt. 11:25).

For all their wisdom, the knowledgeable men of this world cannot find rest. Despite all their soul-searching, the spiritualists of the world cannot meditate into true rest. Even with all their study, the historians are still doomed to repeat the past: they are still doomed to sin. As are each and every one of us. We cannot find rest by ourselves.

Sometimes, we choose failing substitutes for our rest. On the one hand, we can be so obsessive about work because the routine of work might provide rest from the other cares of life. On the other hands, and more likely, we obsess about our vacations. We work and struggle and strive to save in order that we can lavish away our time on extravagant vacations, thinking that this is truly rest. But absence from a job does not account for rest. Adam and Eve, before the fall into sin, lived in the garden of Eden in perfect rest and relaxation even though God gave them the work of tending the garden.

The list could continue. We might be more concerned and avid about spending some ‘time out’ watching our favorite sports team than seeking the rest Christ gives. We might think time spent with family and friends to be more restful than time spent in our Father’s house.

So, let’s stop and think about rest. Think of the most relaxing, restful scene you possibly can. Imagine a valley full of flowers with your lawn chair sitting among the tall grasses. But it’s not long before the mosquitos attack en masse, the pollen fills your nose, and the lawn chair begins to dig into your back. This relaxing, restful scene has become a mosquito slapping, pollen sneezing, backache. As you can see, even the bulletin cover for this morning misses the point of Jesus’ words.

Perhaps the family room with a warm fire, family members singing softly provides your ideally restful scene. Yet, your daughter-in-law is in the other room moping because she doesn’t like the smell of smoke, your granddaughter is griping because she wanted to sing a different song, your grandson is begging you to allow him to open his presents even though Christmas is still a solid week away.

All of these ‘restful’ scenes can be quickly damaged or destroyed by sin in our lives. All creation has been corrupted by sin. The rest Christ brings must not, therefore, depend on creation or nature for neither can bring consistent or dependable rest. Christ doesn’t say, “Come to me, and I’ll give you a lazy chair and a big screen TV to help you relax.” You haven’t come here today in order to take a load off of your feet and relax a little.

You often fail to understand true rest because you often forget the burden under which you toil is sin. Yes, the cares and concerns of this world are hard and heavy. But they wouldn’t be without sin. Your vocations in life would be an absolute delight to you without sin. Your children would not be a burden without sin. Yet you remain burdened and under labor. You still live in need of rest.

Christ, therefore, says, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Christ gives you rest, not the picturesque scene or the friendly family get together. The rest and relaxation Christ offers bears with it eternal significance; He “strengthens and preserves you in body and soul to life everlasting.” You are correct in saying that you do not come to the Divine Service to take a load off of your feet. But you do come to find rest. Rest you are given when, hearing Christ’s Word, you are proclaimed forgiven or when kneeling before His altar, you partake of His feast. This rest brings temporal and eternal comfort. This is “rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).

Christ brings you this comfort because he understands the nature of your toil. He knows the burdens you bear, burdens of family and vocation. He also knows these are burdens because of sin. And even though He never sinned, He became sin in order that sin might be destroyed. By destroying sin through His death, by His rest in the grace, by His glorious resurrection, He can bring rest.

His rest is this: He calls you to come and “take [His] yoke upon you...” (Matt. 11:29). The yoke of Christ barely qualifies for a yoke. A yoke is made to pull something. The yoke must attach the cattle to wagon or a cart. Christ’s yoke, however, is not laden with anything. There is nothing to pull! Christ has pulled the wagonload of your sins to the cross and dumped them there. In a weird twist, the cattle driver has taken the yoke of the oxen, that is your yoke, and has turned you out into the verdant green pastures of His righteousness. Therefore, take His yoke upon you.

The call for rest He sends out to all. Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Since the labor we bear is sin, Jesus is calling all sinners unto Himself. He calls the scientists and the historians, the spiritualists, Oprah and her fan club. He calls them all. Jesus doesn’t, however, call them through TM or through the incessant search for meaning. Jesus doesn’t reveal a secret or hidden sort of knowledge by which you are made worthy to participate in His eternal life. Christ’s answer to the question is much simpler. He says, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy and laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). This is a call unto Himself. He is the answer to the question.

So how is your search going? It never began. You, little children, have had the answer the entire time. The answer to your search was revealed to you by the Father in water combined with God’s Word. The answer is proclaimed every Sunday in the Word proclaimed to you. You are fed the answer when these words are spoken, Given and shed for you. You have the answer: It is Christ and He is here right now to give you rest.

Amen.