Sunday, June 28, 2020

Proper 9 - Series A

Proper 9
(5 July 2020)
 Series A

Zechariah 9:9–12
Romans 7:14–25a
Matthew 11:25–30

Gracious God, our heavenly Father, Your mercy attends us all our days. Be our strength and support amid the wearisome changes of this world, and at life’s end grant us Your promised rest and the full joys of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Our True Peace and Sabbath Rest

Though we have died with Christ in Holy Baptism, and we are raised to new life in Him, we find “another law waging war” in our body and life, that is, between our old Adam and the new man (Romans 7:23). By the Spirit of Christ, we “desire to do what is right,” but we are not able to do so because “nothing good” dwells in our sinful flesh (Romans 7:18). “Thanks be to God,” therefore, “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” who delivers us from “this body of death” (Romans 7:24–25). 

We rejoice in Him, our gentle King, who comes “righteous and having salvation” (Zechariah 9:9). He speaks peace to our embattled hearts, and by His blood of the New Testament He sets us “free from the waterless pit,” and He returns us to the stronghold of our Baptism (Zecariah 9:10–12). 

Though we “labor and are heavy laden,” He calls us to Himself and gives rest to our souls through His free and full forgiveness (Matthew 11:28), not because we are “wise and understanding,” but by the “gracious will” of God the Father, whom “the Son chooses to reveal” in love (Matthew 11:25–27).

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

As we labor under the unbearable weights of temptation, sin, guilt, various miseries and death, we hear Jesus’ merciful invitation to come to Him and realize rest in Him.

Rest in God is a continuous, hallowed theme of God’s revelation. It begins already as part of God’s design at the world’s creation:  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation (Gen 2:3).  God did not need to hallow a day for himself; it was hallowed for man.  It is apparent that the holiness of the day of rest was recognized by humanity at the beginning.  Such recognition was also true concerning the creation-established sanctity of marriage and of life itself.  As Adam fell and the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5), God’s foundational holy ordinances were corrupted and even totally lost.  God would again set forth these truths in the Ten Commandments as well as in the unique commands given to the nation of Israel.  Jews—and all humanity—were created to find hallowed rest on the seventh day.  God gave other rest-related commands to the Jews, and all of these rest-related mandates, along with the other Jewish mandates and festivals, were but a shadow of a greater reality.  That reality is the Messiah, the Christ (Col 2:16,17).

Now comes the Messiah, who is God in the flesh, and He invites people to find their rest no longer by observing a specific day, but in Him alone.  He is not nullifying the created day of rest, nor is he nullifying the Jewish rest-related mandates, He is fulfilling them, thus making them obsolete.  When Jesus invites people to find rest in Him, He is declaring that in His person and work He is the Sabbath for mankind.  His invitation in Matthew 11 to realize Sabbath in Him finds its context in the oft-encountered controversy concerning whether He kept the Jewish Sabbath.  It is clearly not a coincidence that immediately after Jesus invites people to find rest in Him, the Jewish Sabbath is discussed and debated (Mt 12:1-12), during which Jesus makes the strange and authoritative statement, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (v 8).   This statement not only identifies Jesus as the Creator of the Sabbath but it identifies Him as the man who completely fulfills the Sabbath.

As Jesus lived a sinless life, laboring and heavy laden under the weight of man’s sins, His climactic moment of weight-bearing occurred at the cross.   Here the God-man became down and dirty, meek and lowly, as He bore the heretofore unbearable weights of temptation, sin, guilt, mankind’s miseries and death.  Then, after working as no man had worked before, and after working as God to establish a new creation, He rested.  He rested on that hallowed seventh day, resting so completely that He didn’t even breathe.  Then on the eighth day, on the day when the new creation begins, He burst forth from the grave, anxious to breathe new life and once again the image of God into human beings who had become but dust. Jesus thus invites, Come to me…and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Indeed our Lord’s invitation, Come to me, is as powerful as the words of creation, Let there be light.  By His very invitation the dry, dead bones of people are given the breath of life.  When the Lord then invites, Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, He is presenting the feather-light yoke of continually hearing and learning the word of the meek and lowly crucified Christ.  As we labor and are heavy laden, we are baptized into and trust in the word of the crucified and risen Christ and, as He promised, we find perfect rest for our souls.  For as we are in Him who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, who became the embodiment of Sabbath when He rested perfectly in the tomb, we cannot but find rest for our souls.
© 2020 Indiana District - Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Matthew 11:28 in the Lutheran Confessions
Pr. Andrew Yeager

There are two parts here: being weary and carrying heavy burdens refer to contrition, anxieties, and the terrors of sin and death; to come to Christ is to believe that on account of Christ sins are forgiven. When we believe, our hearts are made alive by the Holy Spirit through the word of Christ. Therefore these are the two chief parts: contrition and faith. Apology XII Repentance.44

Two conditions must be met for a person to qualify as a propitiator. First, there should be a Word of God from which we know with certainty that God wants to have mercy upon and to answer those who call upon him through this propitiator. Therefore, such a promise exists for Christ…no such promise exists for the saints. Therefore, consciences cannot establish with any degree of certainty that we will be heard if we call upon the saints. Such an invocation does not flow from faith. Then we also have the command to call upon Christ according to [Matt. 11:28], “Come to me all you that are weary…” which certainly applies also to us. Apology XXI Invocation of the Saints. 17.

For in this Sacrament he offers us all the treasures he brought from heaven for us, to which he most graciously invites us in other places, as when he says in Matthew 11 [:28]: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Surely it is a sin and a shame that, when he so tenderly and faithfully summons and exhorts us for our highest and greatest good, we regard it with such disdain, neglecting it so long that we grow quite cold and callous and lose all desire and love for it. We must never regard the Sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body is helped as well. Why, then, do we act as if the Sacrament were a poison that would kill us if we ate of it? Large Catechism The Sacrament of the Altar. 66-68.

This Christ calls all sinners to himself and promises them refreshment. He is utterly serious in his desire that all people should come to him and seek help for themselves [cf. Matt. 11:28; 1 Tim. 2:4]. He offers himself to them in the Word. He desires them to hear the Word and not to plug their ears or despise his Word. To this end he promises the power and activity of the Holy Spirit, divine assistance in remaining faithful and attaining eternal salvation. FC Epitome Election. 8.

The true and worthy guests, for whom this precious Sacrament above all was instituted and established, are the Christians who are weak in faith, fragile and troubled, who are terrified in their hearts by the immensity and number of their sins and think that they are not worthy of this precious treasure and of the benefits of Christ because of their great impurity, who feel the weakness of their faith and deplore it, and who desire with all their heart to serve God with a stronger, more resolute faith and purer obedience. As Christ says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” [Matt. 11:28]… FC SD VII Holy Supper. 69-70.

Therefore, if we want to consider our eternal election to salvation profitably, we must always firmly and rigidly insist that, like the proclamation of repentance, so the promise of the Gospel is universalis, that is, pertains to all people…Christ said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11 [:28]). FC SD XI Election. 28.

Accordingly, the eternal election of God should be considered in Christ and not apart from or outside of Christ. For in Christ, the holy apostle Paul testifies, we have been chosen “before the foundation of the world” [Eph. 1:4], as is written, “He has loved us in his beloved” [Eph. 1:6]. This election is revealed from heaven through the proclaimed Word, as the Father said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well-pleased; listen to him!” [Matt. 17:5]. And Christ says, “Come to me, all you who are…carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” [Matt. 11:28].

Therefore, if people wish to be saved, they should not concern or torture themselves with thoughts about the secret counsel of God—whether they are chosen or preordained for eternal life—with which the accursed Satan is wont to attack and trouble upright hearts. Rather, they should listen to Christ, who is the “Book of Life” and the book of God’s eternal election for all God’s children to eternal life [Phil. 4:13; Rev. 3:5; 20:15]. For he testifies to all people without distinction that God wills all people who are burdened and weighed down with sins to come to him, so that they may be given rest and be saved [Matt. 11:28]. FC SD XI Election 65, 70.

Similarly, by instructing people to seek eternal election in Christ and in his holy gospel as in the Book of Life, this teaching gives no one cause either for faintheartedness or for a brazen, dissolute life. For this teaching excludes no repentant sinners. Instead, it calls and draws all poor, burdened, and troubled sinners to repentance, to the recognition of their sins, and to faith in Christ. It promises the Holy Spirit for purification and renewal [Matt. 11:28…] Thus, it gives the most reliable comfort to troubled, tempted people, that they may know their salvation does not rest in their own hands. FC SD XI Election 89.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

Matthew 11.25
 Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν• Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, πάτερ κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν, καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις
At that time Jesus declared, “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;

Matthew 11.26 
ναί, ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι οὕτως [b]εὐδοκία ἐγένετο ἔμπροσθέν σου.
yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 

Literally “for so it pleased you well

Matthew 11.27
Πάντα μοι παρεδόθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπιγινώσκει τὸν υἱὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ, οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν βούληται ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψαι.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 

Matthew 11.28 
Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

Matthew 11.29 
ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Matthew 11.30 
ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

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