Messages from Pastor Raddatz

July 5, 2020 Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX  (other readings for the day: Zechariah 9:9-12 and Romans 7:14-25a)

REST: Jesus does the Heavy Lifting

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” NIV

Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

You may have heard a teaching or a sermon about taking Jesus’ yoke upon us which meant to you have a burden.  The “yoke” is the cross of Christ.Taking Jesus’ yoke upon you will give you rest.  It is not about what you have to do, instead it is about what Jesus does for you.


Jesus will give you rest for your souls. This is much deeper than physical rest.

This is an invitation of Jesus.  What will help us handle the stress?  What will handle stress is coming to Jesus.  Here in verse 28 Jesus is saying come here, come now!“Come to me, Jesus says, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

What do you do when you are overloaded, stressed and unraveling?  Where do you naturally turn?  What do you do?

The answer is a person.  God was calling people to come to him a long time ago in Isaiah 40:29, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  NIV

To get the full impact of what Jesus is saying, it helps to go back a few verses before our text in Matthew 11.  Jesus is calling judgement down on the people where he has visited.  He calls down judgement because they are unrepentant.  Even though, Jesus did many miracles in these cities they remain unmoved.  They continue in their sin and they will receive the wrath of God.  But there is an invitation to “Rest”.

Jesus invites you to come to him for rest: forgiveness of all your sins, for strength and for peace.  He invites you to take his yoke upon you …


The people of Jesus day knew what a yoke was, and they knew how important it was.  It has not changed significantly from Jesus day in the Middle East.  It is not used as much in our country.

In the Middle East, the animals used for heavy labor in agriculture are Oxen.  An Ox is really a bull-a typical cattle bull-who is selected for size and castrated when two years old.  In some cases, a ring is placed in the septum between the nostrils and is used for leading.  The Oxen are paired and controlled as a unit by the yoke. 

A yoke looks like a cross beam.  This is where the idea of penalty, punishment and slavery rises in so many people’s minds, but Jesus frees us from the penalty of our sins. Jesus bore our sins on the cross and the benefit of Jesus going to the cross is explained to us in Colossians 2:14.

Col 2:14 …having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. NIV

Jesus went to the cross, which was meant for you and for me, as punishment for our sins.  Now all our sins are cancelled.  Our debts are fulfilled.  We are no longer condemned. 

Even though we are free from our condemnation there still seems to be a pressure in life doesn’t there.  There are still bills to pay, difficult people you try to get along with and demands that seem to mount upon us.

What are you yoked with?  Who is setting the pace and agenda of your life right now? If we are not yoked to Christ, no man is truly free.  No man is his own master.  As Jesus said, “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).  We will either serve God or Satan.


No burden is too heavy because Jesus takes on the bulk of the burden.

Allow Jesus to take this yoke (burden) and learn to trust him.

Although an Ox is a very strong animal two oxen working together have more strength than either one acting alone.  It is a case of the sum being more than their parts.  The Oxen not only share the load, but the load is lighter for each one because they are sharing the load.

What are we to learn from Jesus?  We are to learn to be obedient to the Father’s wishes.  He was obedient for you!!!

In normal practice the yoke is put on a young Ox and an older Ox.  The idea is here that the younger Ox will learn from the Older Ox.  The younger Ox will mimic the movements and learn from the elder.

One of two things will happen when the young Ox is paired with the Older Ox.  Either he will learn from him by submitting to the older Ox or he will reel, and he will become meat for the table.  If we do not learn from Jesus, we can become hangers-on in the Kingdom and not workers in the Kingdom. 

How is his yoke easy and his burden light?  An easy yoke is one that is well-fitted, it won’t chafe or bruise.  When we are yoked with Jesus, we find the burden light because Jesus does most of the heavy lifting.  Just as the older Oxen carries the bulk of the load Jesus takes upon himself the bulk of the burden—the very load he calls us to carry.

When you are yoked with Jesus “all things are possible.”  No burden is too heavy.

Like the tree cutters I once saw in a neighborhood.  I was jogging and they had their orange cones around the truck.  They had a tree dismantled into smaller cuts of branches.  It was stacked on the street.  I had to go around the truck and just then a man came around his truck and he looked at me.  As I was going around the orange cones, He smiled and said, “All the hard work is done”.  

This is why Paul wrote “the good I wish to do I do not do”, (Epistle reading for today).  He also puts it this way, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” He is saying that this problem is systemic.  It is something he can’t understand, much less master.  There is a part of him that delights in God. 

In the end of Romans 7, Paul says he’s tired!!  He’s tired of himself!!  He’s tired of the inner conflict!  He’s tired of the contradiction! Perhaps more than anything, he’s tired of his actions that so often seem to deny God!  “Wretched man that I am (he says) who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Paul’s answer, of course, was in Christ.  “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!  He delivers me from this body of death!”  So, when you grow tired of yourself, of your waywardness, of your inner conflict, there is the voice of the one who calls you to come to him for rest for your souls.  “Come to me all you who labor, Jesus says, and are heavy laden, and I will give you restTake my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Jesus’ body and blood, broken and poured out for you, absolves you of your sin. 

What problems are you carrying that God doesn’t want you to carry?  How will you act differently knowing that Jesus is carrying your burdens?  What will you let go of?  What does he want you to pick up and do?  Jesus’ invitation for rest silences the “Yes, but’s…You see, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1) Amen!!!

And may this peace which passes all single human understanding keep your hearts and minds…,

John Raddatz, Vacancy Pastor

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