December 4th 2016: Ian Middlemist

Our morning worship was led by Ian Middlemist who preached from Matthew 11, verses 25-30, focusing on verse 28, ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’

We live in a society ruled by hurry and worry. This verse is a message of rest, it shows how to know the peace of Christ. ‘Come to me’ because nothing can hold the place reserved in our lives for Jesus Christ. The Lord extends an invitation to each of us. Why do we chase after so many things that can never satisfy, when Jesus Christ has urged us to come to Him? We come to Jesus with our exhaustion and restlessness. The exhaustion removes Christ from the picture. The supreme need in every life is not for pleasure or power but for meaning. The Lord Jesus invites us to Him. We discover our need in Jesus Christ. He promises rest for the restless, rest for our soul when life implodes upon us, when disappointments strike us. Turn to Christ afresh.

We see a great promise. There is one of the most profound examples of Jesus’ calling people to believe in Him. He says ‘Believe in me and put all your trust in me.’ What can we do to get people to turn to Christ? Men and women who have chosen to reject Christ will always do so, unless the power of Christ changes them. In verses 20-24 Jesus denounces them, He brings a stern tone and judgement. Then He turns His tone from one of judgement and urges them to turn to Him and trust Him. This message goes out to all mankind. He promises to give them rest. ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28). All men and women today are being offered this promise. This revelation wasn’t given to the wise and learned but to the weak and weary, to the burdened, to those who have a spiritual need. The rest is for the soul. Burdens become light in Jesus Christ, they are lifted at Calvary. The Lord will refresh the people (Jeremiah 31). There is a promise of future redemption. Jesus is saying He will give us rest. Listen to His promise and take it to heart.

We see a great invitation; the call is for people to come to Jesus. One must believe in Jesus and seek forgiveness and salvation from Him. Repentance is tied in with belief. Turn to Jesus, turn to His direction as you are a new creation. Genuine faith will find expression in learning from Jesus and taking His yoke. In Israel, trying to stick to the letter of the law was often called ‘the Yoke of the Law’. They were said to be taken upon themselves the yoke of the Kingdom. The call of Jesus is a more involved call, it’s a call for people to exchange yokes. The yoke of Jesus is light. A man trains a young ox by yoking it to an older ox, who will do all the work. When we accept Christ, He does all the work for us, He lifts and carries burdens for us. ‘Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)   

Christ’s invitation calls for a radical change. To come under the authority of Christ is to know peace for the soul. Jesus Christ alone brings true rest.

He offers a great incentive. Learn of Jesus Christ, let Him teach you, trust in Him. His teaching is described as gentle and humble. The people have to decide whether to remain as disciples of the Pharisees, rejecting Christ. But if they accept Christ, they come to know the Father and enter into everlasting rest. Sanctification is growing in Christ, to cease trying to find peace in the things of the world. The gospel says ‘stop’, there is nothing left to do, it has been done already. Stop self-help, trying to earn salvation. Stop. Rest brings freedom. The gospel declares we are free. The chains that once surrounded us have been broken by the Resurrection power. We are free indeed from the cares and burdens that rob us of peace and joy. Come to Jesus Christ and know peace and joy. It is finished! Freedom is yours.

Rest is fixed and settled. God’s rest is for eternity. The rest can never be taken away. You are free from uncertainties.

Rest is confident and trustful. God will perfect us. We know He will complete the good work He has begun in us.

Rest is leaning and depending on our heavenly Father, who supplies all our needs.

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