Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Our Only Sure Comfort in Life and in Death (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7 and Matthew 11:28-30 Heidelberg Catechism Question 1)

Introduction

  • We all experience tiredness, suffering, fears, and anxieties
  • We all long for rest, comfort, peace, and security

Sermon’s Focus — One of the most popular statements of Christ in Scriptures: Matthew 11:28.

Sermon Point 1: The Rest in Christ

  1. SCRIPTURE TEXT
    1. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
    2. Question: Is Christ referring to those physically tired of their jobs?
    3. Context
      1. Land of Israel (Palestine) has been a land of oppression and political unrest. Imagine the sense of suffering and affliction due to foreign powers.
      2. From the perspective of politics: Israel is a strategic place for stronghold, and it’s just natural for kingdoms to fight for it
      3. From the perspective of God: It is judgment to disobedient Israel. God already warned that if they will disobey, they will not enjoy the blessing of the land graciously given by God. And though some returned from exile, they are still in their land but never free in it. They are subject to foreign dominion.
      4. Most understood that it is God’s judgment to them, and they still long for the promise of the Messiah (e.g., Simon in Luke 2:25, “waiting for the consolation of Israel”).

        Others just long for the old glories of Israel under David and Solomon.
      5. Different approach by various sects of Jews:
        1. Essenes — “Let’s leave and isolate ourselves in the mountains/wilderness. And the Messiah will come to us exclusively”
        2. Zealots — “Let’s fight by arms.” (Hence, many expecting Christ to overthrow Rome)
        3. Sadducees — “Let’s just adopt the Roman culture. Let’s accept it.” (They fear that the Messiah would only bring political chaos)
        4. Pharisees (most prominent) — “We need to create more traditions and rules to conform people to the Law. Perhaps it will please God.”
      6. Their Mistake: Wrong views of their reality and making their own ways of finding comfort in the midst of their affliction, which never leads them to real rest and peace.
      7. Jesus came confronting their views and their expectations about the Messiah. Instead of inventing their own ways, what the Jews needed is to repent of their sins and trust God.

        (cf. Matthew 11:1 onwards, Christ rebukes them for rejecting the ministry of John the Baptist and himself)
      8. The real enemy is not Rome, but Satan and their stubborn hearts. The real problem that oppresses them is their guilt and their useless means to seek comfort. The ultimate threat is God’s wrath… What they ultimately need is to repent and believe in Christ.

[So looking at the text…]

  1. EXPLAIN
    1. Meaning of text
      1. “Labor [toiling to the point of exhaustion] and heavy laden [being burdened]” — Those who are suffering not only physically, emotionally, but most especially spiritually.
      2. They suffer because of their sins, and whatever they do—unless they come to Jesus Christ—they will never find true comfort and rest.
      3. Promise: “And I will give you rest” [relief, comfort]
        Same with Heidelberg Catechism: “What is your only comfort?” Though the “comfort” is related to strength like a fortress, it gives security, peace, comfort.

[Why is this significant?]

  1. Relate
    1. Everyone experience pain, sadness, and suffering, and a deep longing for meaning and comfort. And sadly people today make own ways to find happiness and satisfaction in things that never satisfy (*though not necessarily evil—like family, education, money, experiences).
      1. Example: FB Video Clip: “Ang sikreto sa masayang buhay ay i-enjoy mo yung pera mo, pamilya mo, puntahan mo lahat ng gusto mong puntahan.”
    2. Further, the real and ultimate problem we face is our sinfulness and the holiness, justice, and wrath of God. God is perfectly holy.
      1. Romans 3:10 — “There is no one righteous…”
      2. Romans 6:23 — “For the wages of sin is death”
      3. Matthew 16:26 — “What will profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeit his soul?”

[If we are sinners, and God is just. And if nothing in this earth matters until we are reconciled with God—how can we have hope?]

  1. Implications
    1. Only God can satisfy the deepest longings of our souls.
    2. “And I [Christ] will give you rest.” The solution is NOT in us (HC Q.1) — “That I am not my own, but belong to Christ.”
      1. Example: Myself growing up as self-righteous. Always burdened by guilt and pressured.
    3. “And I will give you rest.” The comfort is in Christ alone.
      1. Matthew 11:27 — “No one knows the Father except through the Son.”
      2. John 14:6 — “Ako ang daan, ang katotohanan, at ang buhay…”
      3. Philippians 2:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21 — “He became sin…” for the perfect satisfaction of God’s justice.
      4. Romans 8:1 — “There is now no condemnation…” but reconciliation with God.
      5. HC Q. 1
        1. “He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood
          Delivered me from the tyranny of the devil
          Watches over me…
          Causes everything to work together for my salvation…”
      6. And this rest that he gives is a “rest for your souls.” Hence, an eternal rest. Not only in this life, but until the life to come.

        It is a comfort and security that whether in life or in death, everyone who believes in Christ shall be saved.

[Do you have this comfort that you have?]

  1. APPLICATION
    1. Everyone of us is sinful, but are you weary of your sins? All of us deserve God’s wrath, but are you burdened by it. (Like Christian in Pilgrims’ Progress, in contrast to others who don’t realize the need to run away from destruction)
    2. Do you recognize your sin? Do you realize that unless you are forgiven by God, you are doomed to hell?
    3. Then hear the words of Christ, “Come to me (repent and believe in me), and I will give you rest.” And he says, “ALL!”
      1. [Unbeliever]: “I am not worthy”… [“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”]
      2. [Unbeliever]: “My sins are too many, too dark and deep…”… [Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow]
      3. [Backslider, like David]: “I have been running away and rebelling…” [e.g., prodigal son].
      4. [Doubter]: “I do not know if I am forgiven and will be saved…”
      5. [Christian]: We still sin and struggle. But “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Cling to him.
  1. Summarize subpoint: Are you weary and burdened of your guilt? Repent and believe in Jesus Christ and you will find rest for your soul.

[TRANSITION: Now, it is important for us to understand how Christ gives us this comfort and rest. Lest we think that this comfort means passiveness or a license to do whatever we want.]

Sermon Point 2: The Yoke of Christ

  1. SCRIPTURE TEXT
    1. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me [command], for I am gentle and lowly in heart [reason], and you will find rest for your souls [promise]. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light [reason].”
    2. Question: What is a yoke? (“pamatok”)
      1. Animals: A wooden frame used to force an oxen or any animal to move in a certain direction. Or sometimes used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load equally.
      2. Metaphorical: Burden, obligation. Those who are “under a yoke as bondservants” (1 Timothy 6:1).
      3. Meaning: To be under obligation and subject to someone or something.
    3. “Learn from me”
      1. Same word for being a “disciple” / “pupil,” adhering and conforming to the instructions of the teacher.
    4. POINT: Coming to Christ in repentance and faith involves not only trusting him for our salvation, but also obeying him (as the evidence). True faith embraces Christ both as Savior and Lord.

      Once Christ frees us from the burden of our guilt, we carry the yoke of Christ.

[And this is significant especially in Christianity today]

  1. RELATE/CLARIFY
    1. Antinomians or Intellectual and Individualistic “Christians”
      1. Those who just know the doctrines of faith, but do not live by it.
      2. Those who create their own standards instead of following the clear instructions of God’s Word (e.g., “I don’t need the church. I can be a Christian on my own”)
      3. What did the Bible say:
        1. Believers are not mere hearers, but doers of the Word (James 1:22)
        2. “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)
    2. Prosperity Gospel — “Your best life now”
      1. ILLUSTRATE: Rumpelstiltskin: “Just sign it, and all your problems will disappear.” Many view Christ that way. 
      2. What did Christ say:
        1. “In this life, you shall have trials and tribulations” (John 16:33)
        2. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)
        3. “It is granted that you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 2:29)
    3. REALITY: Christianity is hard. Someone: “Mahirap pala maging Kristiyano.”
      1. Fight and mortify sin, while others enjoy it
      2. Resist going against the flow of culture, while others persuade you in it
      3. When trials come, you will accept it and still praise God, while others are mocking him.
    4. APPLY: If you say you are a Christian, do you follow Christ? Do you obey his Word? Have you put on the yoke of Christ upon yourself? (Let us examine ourselves)

      To come to Christ in faith is to submit to him and follow God’s Word.

[Now, lest we understand this as a harsh command, we see that Christ commands this with words of promise and comfort.]

  1. EXPLAIN/PROMISE 

Why should you come to Christ and submit to him? (2 reasons)

  1. The Character of Christ — “For I am gentle and lowly in heart”
    1. Christ knows our weaknesses and sympathizes with us:
      1. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
      2. Jesus to his weak and ignorant disciples.
      3. He won’t demand you to be perfect (though he will exhort you to pursue it). He won’t demand you to be matured like others right away. He will teach you and guide you step by step.
      4. ILLUSTRATION: Gentle doctors/dentists.
      5. Seeing how Christ suffered for you, let it convince you how gentle and loving he is. Christ will not be a harsh taskmaster.

[The second reason Christ wants us to submit to him]

  1. The Way Christ Commands — “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” How is it easy?
    1. The commands of Christ give us life. Unlike Satan who enslaves us in sin for our destruction, Christ rules us for our good. “And you will find rest for your souls”
      1. Relate: People think that religion destroys one’s liberty. Freedom from Christ is no freedom at all, but slavery to sin and destruction. While being a slave of Christ is true and comforting liberty.
      2. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ.” — Romans 6:23
    2. Moreover, the yoke of Christ is easy and light because he is the One who works in us by his Spirit.
      1. Even faith is a gift. And he will not only teach us his commands, but also enable us to do it.
      2. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
      3. “Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
        also assures me of eternal life
        and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
        from now on to live for him.” — HC, Q.1
    3. POINT: Yes, mahirap maging Kristiyano, pero ang Diyos ang Siyang kumikilos at magtatapos ng Kanyang mabuting gawa sa lahat ng Kanyang mga anak. That’s our sure comfort.
  1. APPLY
    1. So if you have not yet come to Christ, believe and submit to him. Follow him. Live for his glory!
      1. [Some may say]: “I have deep-rooted habits.” Christ will change you and will sanctify you with his Spirit within. He will cause you to grow in holiness until the end.
    2. As a Church:
      1. 11 years of God’s faithfulness
      2. Upcoming transitions and some anxieties
      3. Let us find our comfort in Christ (not in numbers, not entertainment, etc.)
      4. Then we shall find comfort and joy. Let us cling and submit to him until the end.
    3. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” — Thessalonians 5:23-24
    4. ZCRC (Imus), beloved, Christ is our only sure comfort in life and in death. Let us come to him in faith, obey him, learn from him, trust and hope in him from now until the end. Amen.

PRAYER

For the lost and weary of sin

For the believers

For the church

  • thanksgiving for anniversary
  • Prayer for guidance and preservation
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