Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Season Of Pentecost Proper 9 Sunday July 9th 2017 - / Matthew 11:25-30 / Who Is Your Teacher?
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 9th 2017: Season of Pentecost / Matthew 11:25-30 "Who is your Teacher?"
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; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will. 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. Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, 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. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. The School year is over, the kids and teachers are on summer break. Confirmation 2017 and Sunday school are in the rear view mirror, Thursday Morning Bible Study is taking a brief hiatus, and Vacation Bible School wrapped up this past Friday. All these things will ramp up again in the fall. In the mean time I want you to think about something … who is your favourite teacher? Who was your favorite teacher? Did someone come to mind? Is it easier to think about who your least favourite teacher is, or was?
Tucked away in our Gospel reading today is an important detail, a detail that some may gloss over and miss … Jesus says of Himself, “learn from Me.” This little phrase from Jesus encourages continued learning in the life of the Christian. But not just continued learning in general … here Jesus says, “learn from Me.” That is ‘learn from Him.’ He is your teacher. This might seem obvious but for many people this is lost to them. People, sadly even Christians become content and satisfied to learn not from Christ, but rather from the World. The World has thousands and thousands of teachers, many teaching the same wretched things but in the World there is only one Christ Jesus and Jesus says to you, “learn from Me.” So we are to learn from Him. The young and the old and everyone in-between.
Here Jesus is talking to the crowd. To everyone, to those who believed and those who were just curious onlookers, yes by this point Jesus had sent out His disciples and they were going from town to town as He had directed them and in their absence we find Him here teaching the crowd. In chapter twelve His disciples are clearly back with Him but here in the midst of Jesus’ address to this crowd we find these worlds from Jesus “learn from Me,” they are directed to more ears than to just His closest followers and disciples.
Now, we often shy away from talking about Jesus as, “Good teacher,” because there are some in the World who only see Him as a teacher, and nothing more. As Christians we confess that this Jesus, the “Good Teacher,” is first and foremost our Saviour, He is God in the flesh – co-equal in majesty with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is Eternal: The Life, The Truth, and The Way. He is your teacher on the Way, He is both the Truth and at one and the same time He is the Truth which He teaches, What He teaches is Life just as He is The Life. The World likes to teach too, but the World is not eternal, and the World is not co-equal with God, the World is not true, the World is fallen … it is full of deception and the ways of the World do not lead to Life.
This past week I noticed a TV commercial for a truck (I know you’re supposed to skip past them these days, but we were watching live TV and the commercial came up so we watched it). In this commercial you can see the kind of thing the World teaches: There is an open road, and as though you are in the driver’s seat you see it stretch out in front of you and then the voice of the narrator asks, “How do you want to live? As a decent person? (and here the commercial cuts to a man looking down and touching his wedding ring) the narrator continues asking, [How do you want to live? As] a Fine human being? Not a bad guy? Always showing up? Getting the job done? As a good father? friend? son? Is that it? Good? ... of course not. King of the hill - Better. Top of your game - Win. All powerful - Like a boss. Like a standard bearer - like a pro.” The commercial is about a truck but it is teaching the viewer something about life. The World, in this commercial and elsewhere, teaches that it is not enough to be a good Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Employee … no you have to be parent of the year! Employee of the month! Good is not good enough, decent, fine, dependable is not good enough. This is the wisdom of the World; this is the understanding of the World. And the World couldn’t agree more. It heaps burdens and outlandish expectations upon your heart at every turn, this is what the World teaches is success, this is what the World teaches is the goal in life – to be King of the hill; Top of your game; All powerful.
Do you live in the World’s classroom, are you cramming the World’s Exams, are you constantly preparing for every pop-quiz the World throws your way? Is this how you’ve lived your life? Is your life lived predominantly in the World or is your life lived in Christ? Who is your teacher: Jesus or the World?
When it comes to Jesus bearing our sin and troubles we do nothing but we receive from Him. He lifts from our backs the burden of this World, all of these sins that we have committed in the World Jesus takes upon Himself, He bears them every step of the way to the cross, the weight of your suffering and pain and anguish, the pressure of your guilt the humiliation of your shame is all on Him. And as He breathed His final breath it all died there with Him and remains nailed dead to that cross. In meekness and in humility, with a humble heart He bore this Worlds sin. Even there, at the cross of Good Friday, He teaches you a lesson which the World despises - for with His body, dead and nailed to the cross, He wins a victory unlike the victories that the World praises. If the World was grading it the paper would come back with a giant red -F, there would be no gold stars, no fanfare. Such is the opinion of the World … the World never, for that reason, expected Easter morning. Because the World doesn’t teach the cross, the World was blindsided by the Jesus of Easter morning. It was unexpected.
In the last couple weeks we’ve heard Jesus say, that His disciple, His pupils are to “pick up their cross,” and follow Him. Do you labour under your sin and trouble? Jesus refreshes you, and all those who labour, by His cross and passion as their Saviour, as your Saviour. And as your Good Teacher He then commands you, and I, and all of us, to bear our cross and follow Him. Therefore He says “learn.” Yes, of course “learn” “Learn from Me” He says, learn from Him. For the Christian Jesus shall ever remain The Teacher and no pupil, no disciple, no follower of His is going to learn all there is to know from Him as their Teacher. You will not exceed Him, or excel past Him. For what He has done is beautiful, what He teaches is without compare.
When Jesus says “learn from me,” notice that Jesus Christ does not say “learn from Me how to look ‘spiritual’ and upright, and successful in the eyes of the World.” Nor does Jesus say, “learn from Me to walk upon the water and perform other miracles which are the special property of My person as the Son of God.” No, what does Jesus say? He says, “learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He says, “learn these common things … learn to be meek and humble, learn them after My example.”
These things, meekness and humility, are virtues from the Second Table of the Law. Honour your mother and father, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and do not covet. In all meekness and humility be a decent person; be a fine human being, be dependable, and get the job done. Be a good husband or wife, be a good father or mother: Be a good friend: A good Son, a good daughter. To follow the lead of Christ, to be His student, His pupil, His disciple in this way, in meekness and humility, is considered so ordinary, so common, in the eyes of the World and therefore it is scorned and is often abused and made fun of and disparaged by the World because it is lacking in the flashy splendour that the World loves. But you learn these virtues of meekness and humility which are so despised by others, by the cruel teachers of the World and even if you may not gain the favour of the World, in God sight these virtues of meekness and humility are magnificent. They are faultlessly, perfectly displayed in Jesus. Let that be enough for you. Don’t strive for more, just to get the approval and acceptance of the World. Who cares if the World approves or accepts you, the World shall pass away. Christ has overcome the World. And He will make new heavens and a new earth on The Last Day and the World as you know it, as we know it, will be gone. Along with all the gold stars and +A grades that the World ever doled out for jumping through its wicked and perverse hoops.
Take heart, if you sit there today and hear these words and says, “I sadly have let the World be my teacher, I have listened to the lessons of the World more than I have listened to the lessons of Christ Jesus, I have followed the teachings of the World first and the teachings of Christ Jesus a distant second or even last, I have mocked the meek and the humble and thought little of them and in so doing I have thought little of Christ,” if this is you in full or in part? Remember Christ Jesus died for these sins too. Turn from the classroom of the World, turn from the cruel and harsh teachers of the World that only pretend to be tolerant and kind. Turn from them, turn from the World, turn to Christ your Good Teacher, learn from Him, learn from His cross and passion, and you will find rest for your soul. Ask and His forgiveness is yours. You will not find forgiveness in yourself, or in the World: Jesus is your forgiveness. He alone holds victory over sin, death, the devil and even the World.
At the beginning of our Gospel reading today Jesus says, “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.” Let your hearts not be heavy laden and burdened with the unending demands of the World and its selfish wickedness and striving after the wind. In the end all that the World promises you will slip through your fingers like the wind, and the World will never reveal this to you by its own teaching. Learn instead from Christ, week in and week out come and hear His word, hear it preached to you, study it. Seek the Lord where He may be found, seek after Christ, live your life in Him and with all meekness and humility follow Him and the lives of your family and friends and co-workers will be improved by your faithfulness to your Good Teacher, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luther’s Works American Edition, Annotations on Matthew Chapter 1-18, Volume 67, Concordia Publishing House 2015, pg. 144.