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Resting in Christ
01/31/2010
Scripture: Matthew 9:10-11; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:...
Track 5 of 13 in the Almighty God...Jesus series
Running time: 1 hour, 01 minute, 31 seconds.
Unfortunately religion has always been the favorite tool of those individuals who sought to control the people. From history we learn that all a person had to do was visualize an institution to embody the beliefs of the people and quickly it was possible to determine who could be in and who was to be out. If someone believes you hold their eternal destiny in your hands, you can make him believe almost anything, want almost anything and do almost anything.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Resting in Christ

How important is rest to you? Do you take enough time to rest or are you someone who won’t let themselves rest any at all? Why is that? What is your definition of rest?

True or False: A person is guilty by association.

Example:

If "A" is a "B"
And "A" is a "C"
Then "B" is a "C"

You might be surprised to know how many people actually believe that notion. Association is a powerful image and many people have judgments made of them by the associations they keep. The same was true of Jesus. Levi was a priestly name, not the name of someone you would expect to find behind the table of a tax collector. But there is Levi, using the power of the Roman Empire to extort money from his Jewish neighbors. As far as his neighbors were concerned, this put him on the same level with harlots who were equally guilty of selling themselves to foreigners.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus came to know Levi? Scripture doesn’t say how it happened but knowing what we know of Jesus, someone paint for the class the picture of their meeting and becoming acquaintances, maybe even friends. If Jesus and Levi were friends, what sort of things do you think they did together?

Now, all we know about Levi is, Jesus walked right up to his table and shocked everyone by calling him to be one of his 12 disciples. From scripture, it didn’t sound as though Levi was surprised. He immediately shut down his booth vowing never to open it again and then he hosted a party to celebrate his turning from sin. I love how the writer of the Gospel records the event.

Matthew 9:10-11 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

What is odd about this passage? For some reason, this doesn’t sound right. I would think that when a “so called” sinner changed his ways and gave up his evil practices, the religious leaders would celebrate with Jesus and his disciples because a misled person came to his senses and changed his life.

As we will see, friendship to Matthew and Jesus didn’t come from the religious leaders. Why?

Unfortunately religion has always been the favorite tool of those individuals who sought to control the people. From history we learn that all a person had to do was visualize an institution to embody the beliefs of the people and quickly it was possible to determine who could be in and who was to be out. If someone believes you hold their eternal destiny in your hands, you can make him believe almost anything, want almost anything and do almost anything. One of the cruelest tricks ever unleashed on the people in the church is the doctrine of indulgences. We spent 14 weeks studying the truth about grace. During that study I warned you that many Christians have a very warped concept of grace. The doctrine of indulgences is a way to control the church and to get the people to do what the church leaders want.

Baptism removes all stain of original sin, all eternal punishment for actual sins committed and all temporal punishment for those sins. The Sacrament of Penance removes only the eternal punishment for sin. It does not entirely remit the temporal punishment for our sin. We must do penance (more than the sacramental penance imposed by the priest) in order to remit the temporal punishment for our sins. We can do that in this life, or if we fail to do that, we will have a chance to do it in purgatory after we die (if we die in a state of grace).

But the Church has an incredible treasure of graces at her disposal, built up through the superabundant merits of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Our membership of the Communion of the Saints entitles us to call on this treasury of graces. This is what the Church calls "Indulgences".

Indulgences can also be applied to the souls in Purgatory. Therefore, if you wish, you may apply a plenary indulgence or partial indulgence you have obtained for the benefit of a soul in purgatory. Obtaining a plenary indulgence for a soul in Purgatory essentially ensures that person's release from Purgatory in Heavenly Glory! What a wonderful act of Christian love! And a guarantee of an intercessor in Heaven!

What is the danger of indulgences? How can church leaders use these indulgences to control the people? They were first used to bring money into the church.

This was not necessarily a new idea…not the idea of indulgences, but to gain power over the people. During the life of Jesus, there were two very powerful groups, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Both were powerful but neither of them had what was needed to claim complete control. The Sadducees had control over the temple. The Pharisees had control over the lives of the people through their obedience of the law. Both groups unfortunately needed each other to manipulate the people. Two things are needed to manipulate people – a religious institution and religious authority. Neither one had both so they had to work together to get what they wanted.

Knowing the Pharisees from scripture, which of the 10 commandments was their favorite? The 4th commandment

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

What was the 7th day set aside to commemorate? God’s Creation of the world and his provision. The Sabbath also commemorated God’s covenant with the Hebrews. Both brought about the ceasing of activity. God finished and the people finished their work to take time to thank God for their provision and protection.

After Israel was taken into captivity, how did their worship change? What was their life like without their temple for those 70+ years?

Having been stripped of all that made them distinctly Hebrew, they looked to the Law to restore their national identity and to bind them together as a people. It was during this time when the birth of Pharisaism happened. Legalism became the core value of Judaism. By the time Jesus came onto the scene, the Pharisees changed the Sabbath into something very different from what God had ordained. To the simple command to rest, the Pharisees added a long list of do’s and don’ts. So not to miss anything, they added 39 categories of forbidden activities. What is ironic about this; they made resting a tremendous burden.

Then Jesus came along…

Mark 2:23-28 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

We will see there are two different points of view. No one dared to question the wisdom of the Pharisees, then there was Jesus. From the Pharisees point of view, what were Jesus and his disciples doing wrong and why?

There were three points that Jesus wanted to correct the self-appointed morality police on:

1. The Pharisees gave higher priority to the customs of men than the law of God. I am glad don’t do that today…or do we. Are there instances when the church holds traditions higher than they do the needs of the people?

2. God gave laws to his people to bless them, not burden them. What are the reasons for giving rules to man. To either elevate the quality of human life or to restore one’s relationship with God.

3. Because the Law came from God and it can never be greater than God.

What was Jesus saying when he spoke the words in verse 28? The Sabbath is not yours to control; it is Mine because I am God. Therefore, I am taking it back from you.

True or False: Jesus came to this earth to establish a new religion.

He didn’t come to establish a religion; he came to restore a broken relationship. He came to make the primary, primary again.

What does that mean? Something that was not to be a primary activity was primary; it was in the wrong place. What should be the primary activity and what should be secondary?

Obedience to the Law was in the wrong place. The primary activity is to love God and to enjoy Him forever. The secondary activity was always intended to serve the primary. When both activities are in the proper order, the secondary becomes a labor of love, a joyful, “Easy” burden to bear.

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

Come to what? Church? Temple? Ritual? Sacrifice? Poverty? Penance? Good Deeds? Come to Religion?

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that the Sabbath was bad, nor did he discourage anyone from observing the Sabbath. There is nothing wrong with Church or Church activities, or good deeds or spiritual maturity just as long as they remain secondary to the invitation of God. Come to me!

In our culture today, when we receive an invitation, there are basically three parts, what are they? Who sent the invitation, for whom the invitation is for and what is being offered.

Jesus in Matthew 11 offers an invitation. In his invitation are the same three things we see I our invitations today. It is really important to note what he says in his invitation:

1. Where did the invitation come from in Matthew 11? How did Jesus describe himself?

Usually when you think of God talking with you, how do you imagine him? If you stood before Jesus today in the flesh, also as God, what would you expect? Is your image of Jesus the same as He calls himself here in Matthew 11?

2. To whom is Jesus invitation given?

Matthew uses two interesting words here from the Greek:
• Weary – as though one who has been beaten. A physical tiredness induced by work. Usually used to describe severe exhaustion.
• Heavy –Laden: Loaded down. Burdened by a great weight.

Both of these images were used to not only describe the people but the religious leaders who placed the heavy burdens of legalism on the people.

Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

In a sense, the Jews were religious slaves of those who called themselves righteous, pious, observers of the law.

3. What was being offered in Jesus invitation? Jesus offered what is translated, rest.

The meaning is to put something to an end. The meaning is closely akin to the word Shabbat which comes from the word Sabbath.

The whole meaning of this concept of rest, religion had perverted. Jesus came to restore it. Religion says to work more, try harder, do this, don’t do that, give until you have no more, God isn’t pleased with you yet, push, push harder, push longer. Jesus looked into the hearts of exhausted, overburdened stressed out people and offered a better way.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me”

His invitation invites us to exchange the burdens of legalism for a lifelong Sabbath of the soul, He invites us to accept him as our teacher so he can show us how he managed stress, how he forgave and how he ministered. And he invites you and me to reject the slavery of religion, wealth, status, relationships or anything else that burdens us so we can become a slave to him.