Invite you today to a fresh "look at Jesus." We are continuing in our "Look at the Man" series. Listen carefully to this text, what do you hear? Must study familiar more closely, for we fail to hear. Must look at Jesus more carefully, else may fail to see.
Consider oxymorons. Girl is awful pretty. That is different than pretty awful. Jumbo shrimp. Easy marathon. Light burden. Only familiarity makes this normal. Light burden. Easy yoke.
Then in our text we suffer from our failure to know agrarian, agricultural world. "Take my yoke and rest" doesn't make a lot of sense. Get in the yoke to rest! Yokes are for working, not resting. But Jesus says, rest. I will give you rest.
So I wonder what else I may have missed in Jesus. What else have I failed to see when I have given my cursory look at Jesus.
Look At Jesus
That is our question today. If we look more closely, what will we see? What can we show or declare to a skeptical world? Many people have gotten Jesus all wrong. Misunderstood, never connected. Many have not looked for themselves--perhaps even you have not looked closely, for yourself. Many have not heard for themselves, but have only heard what others have said about this Jesus. One author distinguished knowing Jesus, and knowing about Jesus (1 Cor. 2:5). Paul mentioned wanting to know Jesus again in Phil. 3.
There is a world of difference between coming to church and coming to Jesus as text says we must. So question may be appropriate: When Jesus says, "Come," how have you responded? Have are you responding? How will you respond tomorrow?
The Importance of the Question
I would remind that Jesus Christ is center of Christianity. If do not know Christ, proclaim Christ, imitate Christ, respond to Christ--there is no Christianity. Ours is a faith response, compassionate response, caring, sharing, daring. Seeing sinners, noticing nobodies, but most of all, cultivating Christ. Establishing joyful, exciting, meaningful personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If we are not careful, our emphasis on Scripture, word of God, word of Christ, can endanger. Jn. 12:47-48, but we can cling tenaciously to the word of Christ and never see the Christ. Never move closer to Jesus, never come to him.
When that happens, authority can become misplaced, in Bible not in Christ, Matt. 28:18. Scripture has authority because Jesus has authority. Jesus is the one who binds, Matt. 16:18ff; John 20:23ff. Jesus is the standard, follow me, come unto me.
Any other approach becomes burdensome. Doing things you do not want to do, for reasons unknown, is burdensome. Relief is in personal relationship. Heart matter; matter of heart. Heart clearing, heart cleansing, heart enlightening, heart relationships.
Wonder if we would understand better if we said, We follow the teaching of Jesus, will of Jesus, way of Jesus, rather than always staying one step removed in "we follow the Bible." Authority of instructions depends upon authority of instructor. Jan makes "honey do" list. I do. But I do not cite authority of list. List has no authority in and of itself, but I say rather Jan wanted these things done. Likewise, do we say, "because the Bible says so, or because Jesus wants these things done."
Danger is that authority of Scripture is easier to usurp than authority of Christ. False Christs, anti-Christs we can recognize. False teachings are more difficult.
Come Unto Me
One simple plea: come to Jesus. Go to Jesus. Jesus is the answer. He has all authority. His is the name we wear--Christian. He is the builder and owner of the church, church of Christ. He is the focus of our attention and allegiance. We worship him, we seek him. We would see Jesus.
When I was young, went to church often. Heard the words of Jesus, Come Unto Me. Elders encouraged me to go to York, but I went to Wichita State University. In Wichita I met Maurice Hall. When you hear me, see me, you hear some of Maurice. But still Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
I went to OCC as a Bible major, heard Raymond Kelcy, Hugo McCord, Bill Jones, so when hear me preach, hear some of brother Kelcy, brother McCord, brother Jones, but still, in back of mind, in moments of silence and meditation, I knew Jesus was saying, Come Unto Me.
Eventually I went to Harding Graduate School, sat at feet of Jack Lewis and others, and thus when hear me teach, hear some of Jack Lewis, but still, in thoughtful reflection, I knew Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
I started preaching, went to gospel meetings, preachers luncheons, lectureships. Heard W. B. Bradfield, Jimmy Allen, other great preachers from early 1970s, but still Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
Moved to Michigan, went to workshops, learned about busing, Pat Casey, Toby Quinn, Albert Hill. Went to IBC, even came to Williamstown, WV, but still Jesus was saying, Come Unto Me.
After we moved to Oklahoma, I went back to school--OC, Harding Grad, ACU, sat at feet of more great minds, great men, but still Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
I wonder today, what would have happened if I had spent as much time seeking Jesus as I have seeking knowledge, listening to those who could tell me about him.
Eventually I came to OVC, church all up and down east coast became my church home, easy to get caught up in hustle and bustle, but in the midst of it all, Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
Now I have added to my other responsibilities the task of preaching regularly at Grand Central. Frankly, there is still much to distract me. But Jesus says come, and we are as the family of God are saying, let us go together. We will walk daily with Christ. Together, we hear Jesus saying, Come Unto Me. We are committed to looking at the Man. And we as a church, as individual believers, each coming to Jesus, are committed to going on this journey together. Jesus says, Come Unto Me.
So we urge each again, Look at the Man. What do you see? Redeemer of the unredeemed, come to Jesus. Friend of the friendless, come to Jesus. Hope of the hopeless, home for the homeless, help for the helpless, come to Jesus. Direction for the wandering, release for the shackled, freedom for the captives, rejoicing for the disheartened, come to Jesus, he will save you.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavyladen, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
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