Come to me, and I will give you rest

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Zechariah 9.9-12; Matt 11.16-19, 25-end

Sunday 9 July 2017, St John the Evangelist, Hook

 

Complaints received by Customer Services:

 

A customer phoned to complain following the delivery of a curtain pole. On finding no one home, the driver decided it would be possible to still deliver the pole - through the letterbox. When the customer returned they found their dog pinned to the wall.

 

On receiving a call advising that her contact lens order was early and could be collected, the customer complained to the head office, suggestion that the ‘overzealous’ ordering system was akin to high pressure selling

 

A television was returned because the picture was not clear. On being told he was required to remove protective film from the screen, the customer insisted that at no point during the sales process had he been told he’d be required to do this and insisted on a full refund, plus compensation for his wasted time.

On return from a camping holiday on an approved “farm stay” site, a holiday maker requested a full refund stating their holiday had been ruined by the “intrusive noise of cows mooing.”

An internal helpdesk received a call from a user complaining that she could only view her monitor correctly if she lay her head on her desk. Once the monitor was rotated by the support team, the problem was solved.

A diner complained to the waiter that the Champagne recommended was not as “excellent” as suggested. Despite consuming all but a glass of the bottle, he insisted on a full refund.

Matthew 11 v 16-19.  Jesus is receiving complaints!

 

He has healed the sick, cast out demons, he has fed the hungry with bread and fish, he has taught them on the hillside about the love of God, and the mercy and forgiveness of God

But still they moan!

 

Jane Williams (Lectionary reflections SPCK) writes:

Not surprising – because they moaned about John the Baptist too – and he had done really good things. He is in prison now.  And Jesus has just made a big thank you to John in public

The crowd are not really very interested. John is yesterday’s news. They have moved on to the next sensation – the tabloids are full of Jesus – don’t want to hear about John particularly, but they want to hear about themselves, their needs, their hopes, and fears?

Jesus knows them well! He says in the little poem

 

“We played a pipe for you and you did not dance”

This means – come on, and let’s play at weddings

(we don’t feel like being happy today)

“We sang a dirge and you did not mourn”

This means – come on, and let’s lay at funerals

(we don’t feel like being sad today)

Contrary! No matter what was suggested, they did not want to do it. No matter what was offered, they found fault with it.

 

A bit like spoilt children?

 

John came – NOT eating or drinking (he was fasting and living in the desert)

And the crowd says – he has a demon

 

Jesus (the Son of Man) comes – eating and drinking;

Mixing with all kinds of people, sharing in their sorrows and joys, keeping company with them in their time of joy. And the crowd says – here is a glutton and a drunkard! A friend of tax collectors and sinners! A socialite – a party-goer. He is the friend of outsiders, with whom no “decent” person would have anything to do

 

They called John’s self-denial, madness & Jesus’ sociability, living out God’s lavish love and generosity and forgiveness, laxness of morals. Criticism either way

 

In our culture we don’t hear the additional accusation to Jesus

Because we are not familiar with the culture, but the people of Jesus’ day would have known the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which talks about the rebellious son, the one who is stubborn, and a glutton and a drunkard. He should be stoned to death! Wow – nasty stuff.

 

Application – when people do not want to listen to the truth, they will easily find an excuse for not listening!

 

But Jesus says, wisdom will be shown to be right by her deeds

Meaning – the ultimate verdict will not be with the critics, but with the events:

The crowd might criticise John for his fasting – but people were brought close to God

The crowd might criticise Jesus for his mixing in ordinary life – but in him people are finding a new life, a new goodness, and a new power to live well, and a new access to God

 

Application for you and me

Let’s not make excuses if we hear God speaking to us – and let’s respond in faith

Let’s support the work of bringing new life, goodness, outreach into the community – mixing with ordinary people. WHO CARES? In Hook is revealing the needs of our neighbours and friends. Let’s listen and really care. Please. Join me in the one question survey this week?

 

And now it is Good news: the beautiful prayer of Jesus, verses 25-27

 

To the Father – close, trusting, intimate

No intellectual pride – God is revealed to you, you don’t have to be clever or be proud in your learning. Note that it is often pride that stops us responding to God: “We know better – we know the answers”

It is the humble heart that is the home of Jesus. The one that accepts him and his love

It is possible to be as wise as Solomon, but without the simplicity, the trust, the innocence of the childlike heart, people can shut themselves out from God’s love.

 

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father“– what a claim!

But this is what we believe. Jesus shows us what God is like

Application

Let’s pray to the Father in trust. Let’s not be proud, let’s be willing to be open to Jesus

Let’s learn about the life and teaching of Jesus, because he shows us the Father – then let’s share it with others!

 

Finally, the beautiful promise in the last verses, 28-30

Everyone to have a copy to keep – they are coming round now

 

Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
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.

Matthew 11.28-30

 

In contrast to the complainers, Jesus is speaking to the crowds who are in a completely different attitude: these are coming to him and not making excuses

Jesus speaking to people who are desperately trying to find God, and trying to be good, and may be in despair

 

Jesus says, come to me, all you who are exhausted

-       Exhausted from trying to find the truth?

“Come to me”. Jesus claims that the search for God will be found in himself

Remember the Beatitudes? “Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God”

Jesus says, Come to me all who are weighed down with burdens

Religion a system of endless rules, a forest of regulations: “You shall not!”

Jesus says, Come to me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me

As a master carpenter, Jesus probably made the yokes for the oxen on their shoulders

The yoke would have been made of wood – to keep the oxen together, that they make a straight furrow, not going off in their own directions, but together, and then they can make a difference. To us Jesus offers a close relationship of guidance, and leadership

This yoke will fit perfectly. It is hand-made by God: The yoke in life I give you, is not a burden to cause you pain. Your task is made to measure

Jesus says, My burden is light

It is laid on us in love, and our burden is to love God, and to love our neighbour

 

How does the Lectionary reading of Zechariah 9 help us?

prophecy about Jesus coming

Rejoice – the king is going to arrive on a donkey – he will take away war. Proclaim peace – his rule. The blood of the covenant will free prisoners.God is returning

 

Response today – is not to walk way – but to come to the Father, to gentle Jesus, to the King on the donkey. So let us do that now, take his yoke upon us, and learn from him

 

He is gentle and humble in heart. We shall find rest for our souls. Amen

 

Rev Marion de Quidt, St John the Evangelist, Hook. 9th July 2017