12 Apr 2020

Heavy Part 1 [Matthew 11:28-30]


This Covid-19 pandemic has brought fear and anxiety to our world. we feel stressed, burdened, heavy. It's a reminder that we live in a fallen and broken world filled with pain and suffering. But the Christian message is one of hope and joy, for Jesus offers us rest! He invites one and all to "come to him" that we may find that soul rest that we have lost since Adam & Eve sinned. He is no scammer, for He rose again after His crucifixion- proving He has paid for the sins of those who believe in Him. Today, on Good Friday, God still invites you to repent and believe in His son that you may be saved. And to the Christian, let us enter that rest daily as we put down our own yokes of "success, materialism, pride, comfort, and selfishness", and let us take up His yoke of seeking God's will and Kingdom like Jesus did. It is easy and light. It is the secret to real rest for your soul. Check out this sermon, and share it with your friends and loved ones! May they come to Jesus and find rest in these troubled times.


Sermon Transcript

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Well, welcome to our Good Friday service today.

We live in a very difficult period of time. Corona used to be a name of a beer. But now it is a source of fear. People are fearful about their health, about their lives, about their livelihood. And there are many people who are living in anxiety and stress and burden.

The theme, “Heavy” is something that was chosen some months ago. But this is particularly relevant for today's message. We live in a difficult time, and actually that's where the Bible and the promises of God really shine through. The brilliance and the beauty of the Bible, is that it is a wonderful book of tremendous promises. I want to say to you, “This is a message about hope, about joy, about victory.”

I know many of you are Gospelighters, are Christians tuning in. But I also want to thank you for joining us if you are not yet a Christian. You may be forced to watch this because your family member is watching this now. But I want to say to you, “I trust that this simple message will be a blessing to you.”

You know when I drive by Serangoon Road, I would see this building. It’s a church building. And it has a beautiful, simple few words on the walls of this building. It says, “Jesus said, ‘Come to me’”. This is one of the great invitations of the Bible.

Why come to Jesus? Let's look at what He said. “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28] This is one of the great invitations of the Bible. In this season of great sorrow and pain and heaviness, Jesus promises rest.

You know, this world filled with sorrow and pain, and suffering, was not like this when God made it. When God made this world, He said, “It was good. It was very good.” According to the Bible in Genesis, there's no sin, there's no sickness, there's no suffering, there's no sorrow, there's no pain. Nothing! Adam and Eve, the first man [sic: were] was living in sweet communion with their Creator God.

Then you say, “How is it that this world is now so painful and difficult and sorrowful? Why is there COVID-19? Why are all these diseases here?” Oh! Because Adam and Eve chose to sin and disobey God. And because they took that which they are not supposed to take, they rebelled against God. Holy God now pronounces a judgment on man and on this world.

In short, God cursed the creation because of Man's sin against Him. So, futility and frustration came in, diseases and death are now part of life. Sinful man is now cut off from the Holy God. And now, we are filled with guilt and shame and fear. We see evil all around us. And all that could be traced to when Adam and Eve sinned against God.

And when we die, we will be sent to the eternal fires of hell forever, because we also sinned against God. But do you know? On the day man sin against God, whilst God pronounced a judgement, He also gave a promise. A promise of grace, of goodness, of love. He promised a Savior who would defeat Satan and reverse the curse of sin. And so centuries later, about 2000 years ago, God sent His Son, His name is Jesus.

He came to this world. He knows He is the fulfillment of that promise. And so, He says to you today, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28] How can He do that? What gives Him the right? That's the message of Good Friday.

When He made this promise to give you rest, He knows that He's going to pay for that rest by dying on the cross for our sins. He is the Lamb of God that will be sacrificed to take away your sin. And three days later on Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. That proves that He has paid for all our sins and is now our Risen Lord.

And that's why He can say, “I give you rest. You are no more going to be cut off from God, the Father. I'm going to bring you back into a loving relationship with Him. You'll be forgiven of your sins. You have the hope of eternal life. You will be God's and God will be your God.” And that is the rest [for] our hearts.

You know, this is a very refreshing message Jesus gave during His time. Because the Jews, during the times of Jesus, always thought that they are the ones who have to work their way to God. They are always about obeying the laws, keeping the traditions, making sure they don't sin, do as much as they can.

In other words, they depended on themselves. They [sic: earned] felt that they earned their way to God. We call that, self-righteousness. And because it was all about them, they were a people who are weary and heavy-laden. Because there's always more to do.

When will it ever be enough? And the whole tragedy, is according to God, “You break one law, you break the whole law.” No wonder they are tired! No wonder they are fearful! No wonder they are never at rest! Because they always thought,” It's about me, myself, and I and how I can earn my way.”

But Jesus said, “I will give you rest, because I will do that which is necessary to save you. I'll die on the cross and pay for your sins.” And on the cross, He said, “It is finished! All your sins are forgiven. They are paid for by My blood.” And He rose the third day, proving that reality.

About 20 over years ago, I wanted to be a Christian. I've been to church. I've heard the preaching of God's Word. And I came to a point where I say, “I need to be saved.” But somehow, I can't find the answer - How to be saved? No one sat beside me to say, “This is how you can be saved.”

But I happened to see a tract in our church. It's a very simple track that says, “Am I going to Heaven?” Very simple drawing but I can see myself as the man in the picture. So very excited, I opened the tract. Instead of telling me what to do, it began with a series of questions.

The question is - What do you think is required to get to heaven? So, it gives me a few options. First, obeying God's laws and commandments. I said of course, I put a tick there. Second question - Doing any religious deeds like water baptism, penance, confirmation, charitable giving. I say, “Yeah! That makes sense that if that's what it means to be a Christian.” I tick that!

The third possible requirement is - Doing any good works, like helping mankind. I say, “Yeah! That's nice. That should be good. We should do good things. And that's what I need to do in order for God to accept me.” So, I tick that!

Number four - Doing any spiritual things like turning from sin, following Christ’s lifestyle, or stop sinning. I tick that as well! Now, I'm a pretty good student. I do quite well in school. And so, this is the first time I failed a test. Because when I flipped further, it says, “If you've answered - Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes - you are wrong.” Because it reveals to me that the Bible says, “You are saved by grace, by God's love without the obedience to the Law.”

Because there's no way a sinful man can do good things in the eyes of a Holy God anyway. In fact, that dependence on self-righteousness is pride, arrogance before the Holy God. So, we cannot be saved by our own works. That's why Good Friday is so important. We are saved by Christ and what He has done. So the Bible tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son….”

If you could save yourself, He doesn't need to give His Son. He gave His Son to die and pay for your sins on the cross. “… That whoever believes in Him.” Today, the only way you can be saved is when you come to Jesus and believe in Him. That is, you recognize you can't save yourself, you are a sinner but my Jesus, He paid it all. You will not perish but have eternal life.

Now, you may still have to go through COVID. You will have to go through sufferings and pains in this world. But you know God, and you will have everlasting life, in everlasting joy with God forevermore. And all that is because Jesus paid it all.

So on this Good Friday, I want to invite you to repent and believe in Jesus. I want you to leave where you are, leave your old dependence and come to Jesus. And He will give you rest, peace and joy, that all the money, all the face masks, all the ventilators cannot give.

Now, I want to speak also to Christians here. Because Jesus did not stop at verse 28. He goes on to say, “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 11:29] So, I look at this verse and I'm always intrigued with the word, ‘yoke’ in English.

Yep! It absolutely it sounds like egg yolk. And I say, “Why does Jesus ask me to take His egg yolk?” I realized I got the spelling wrong. Yoke, as in Y O K E, refers not to the egg yolk, Y O L K, but to a metal bar or structure. And this yoke is something that you put on an animal, so that if you use two of them, the two animals will work together. They have no choice, they're stuck.

Or it may be used so that you can attach a plow at the back, so that the animal can drag the plow. So this is a very useful tool that you can put on the animals. So Jesus is using this picture to say that, “As followers of Jesus Christ, we find rest when we take His yoke upon us.”

Now, to take His yoke, I think it means, I have to drop my own yoke. Many people today are living in stress, fear, anxiety, depression. I think, it's because we carry a yoke - our own yoke. Maybe a pursuit for money and wealth and fortune and fame and comfort. So, it is very heavy. And it is a picture of many of us in this world.

You watched the video. It's a picture of how many people today are living in the misery of life. Look at the things they have to carry, how sad they look. And the only way you can have rest, the only way you can have rest is when you drop your yoke, and you come to Jesus. Turn from your old life and now take up His yoke. So you drop your own and take up Jesus' yoke.

Now, what is Jesus' yoke? In the Bible, I don't read of Him carrying a yoke walking around like that. So it's not a physical yoke but a spiritual one. I think he came into this world bearing a responsibility. He came into this world with a burden. He came into this world not to be served but to serve. And He came to seek and save that which is lost. He came not to do his own will but the Father's will.

He said, “I must be about my Father's business.” He came for the Kingdom of God! That's His yoke - His Father's will, His Father's work, His Father's kingdom, to save His Father's people. And Jesus is saying, You take this yoke, and “you will find rest to your soul.” [Matthew 11:28]

The Christians’ joy and peace and rest is not because he has been blessed by God in his business, he has a lot of money and good health. But it's because we follow Jesus and we take up this yoke of doing the Father's will, the Father's work, the Father's Kingdom.

My friends, there's nothing more upsetting to the Christian than a life of sin and disobedience. But there is nothing more joyful than to be in the center of God's will. When we are walking with God, following Jesus, taking up the yoke, doing His will, doing His work, for His glory, we find peace and rest. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore. And our hearts which were restless, would now find its rest in Him.

In this COVID-19 season, wash your hands, social distancing, stay at home. But the real secret to rest is when you're doing God's will. If you're staying at home, don't watch too much Netflix. Drink in the Gospel. Read God's Word, hear God's Word, let God's love fill your heart. Live out the Gospel. Life of love and joy and service to others.

Give out the Gospel. During this time when you're locked down, you can still use your WhatsApp, your phone, your zoom, to tell people about Jesus. I believe that as we take up the yoke of Jesus, about His will and His Word and His Kingdom, when we are drinking in the Gospel, living out the Gospel, giving out the Gospel, you will find real rest. A peace that surpasses all understanding.

And you know when you take up the yoke of Jesus, sounds difficult because you got to deny yourself and take up the cross. But Jesus said in verse 30, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “You mean it’s easy! You mean it’s easy and light?” It is. If you are Christian, your heart has been changed by God, it is. Because if God has saved you, He has given you a new heart that delights after His will.

In September 2018, there were a lot of people queuing up. This is Singapore. Unimaginable picture, considering COVID-19 today. But many people queued up. What were they queuing for? Free money? Well, for those of you who are techies, you will remember that this is the time they queued up for the new iPhone 10.

The first guy in the queue, queued for more than 24 hours. He queued on the previous day, early in the morning. Queuing since 7am. But look at what he said, “I feel zero tiredness.” He's not tired at all! Why? Oh! Because he got his iPhone. When you are filled with delight, you will not be tired. When you find your delight in God, you will say, “His Yoke is easy, His burden is light.”

You know … you know your heart. You know whether you belong to God with this. One simple question - Do you delight in His will? Do you delight in His Word? Do you prioritize His Kingdom over yourself? It's easy, it's light also, because it's an opportunity to learn from Jesus. In other words, as you take up His yoke and you are yoked together with Him, that's right, you're walking with Jesus, you're working with Jesus.

When you walk together, you learn more about the other person. So when we think about the yoke, we think it's a yoke for one animal. Take that away, take away the yoke of my own selfish ambitions. Then take up the yoke of Jesus. It’s a yoke for two. Let’s be yoke with Jesus, because He is a stronger partner, I can depend on Him.

I can understand the Christian life is not about me and myself, but it's all about depending on my senior partner. And as I walk with Him, I learn of Him. And I know the heart of my Savior, I rejoice in His beauty.

On this Good Friday today, for all of you who are not yet Christians, remember Jesus came to die on a cross and to rise again to save you from your sins. I pray you will drop whatever you have been living for and come to Jesus. Repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and He will give you rest.

For all my brothers and sisters in Christ, Christians, I wish you peace and rest in these turbulent times. I'm praying for you to be well kept, healthy and so on. But more than that, I'm praying that in the midst of the storm, you have peace from within. That you will delight and focus yourself, even in difficult times to worship Him, to do His will, to do His work, and to fulfill the demands of the Kingdom.

Remember Jesus is risen, He's coming back again. Live in that hope, that certain hope, and we will rejoice in Him forevermore. May God bless you. Let's bow for a word of prayer.

Father, thank You so much for these simple words we can consider on this Good Friday. Thank You that even when man sinned against You, you promised salvation and rest through Your Son. We pray men and women will turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ. So please, by Your Holy Spirit bless the listeners today, that they might be saved.

We pray also for Your Church, Your Christians. We ask that we will instead of being COVID-centered, but let us be Gospel-centered. Let us drink in the Gospel, live out the Gospel, give out the Gospel. May we seek first the Kingdom of God. May we take up the yoke of Jesus and find rest now. We thank You, and we pray all these in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


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