Who is your Teacher? / Matthew 11:25-30 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 5th 2020 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 5th 2020: 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. 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.
We often talk about Jesus being our Good Shepherd, and He is, however we often shy away from talking about Jesus as our, 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.
When it comes to the World as a teacher have you ever noticed that it heaps burden after burden on it students. The virtues it teaches in one generation are never virtuous enough in the next generation and must therefore be made heavier and heavier. One year it pushes you to consume every product known to man and to fight tooth and nail to get ahead of everyone else and then the next year you are evil because your consumption in ruining the environment. One decade you are taught to experiment with drugs and the next you are to support the war on drugs. The student is asked to hold on to the merry-go-round of excess and austerity, correction not asked but demanded. The World teaches free love, promiscuity, in essence loveless-love, and excuses the divorces it causes, the lack of commitment it encourages and the murder of children produced in a pursuit of pure pleasure and economic security. It builds the information highway and sets up red-light districts on every dot-com corner making money off of every vice imaginable or unimaginable. The sexual revolution of one generation, which the World teaches us to accept, becomes (keeping the military analogy going) the fertile ground of present day sexual war crimes accusations. The World hates the restraints placed on it by the Law of God but then when people act in an unrestrained way towards each other the World becomes the cruel teacher whose dunce cap and rod are merciless, without forgiveness. The student is canceled, suspended, expelled before they can finish writing the exam and the questions and answers seem to changes faster than the student can respond or react. One day the World pats you one the head for being a good patriotic student the next it labels you a genocidal bigot, just when you think you are good enough for the World, just when you think you are getting straight As the curriculum changes and you slide down the snake to square one as new ladders are erected before you to climb. This is the prevailing wisdom of the World; the understanding the World teaches. It heaps exhausting burdens and expectations upon your heart at every turn disguising them as freedoms. It pretends to teach progress but it provides chaos and death.
Do you live in the World’s classroom, are you cramming for 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?
The World says “do as I say not as I do,” Jesus as our Good Teacher is not a “do as I say not as I do,” Teacher. Jesus bears our sin and troubles we do nothing but 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. “Cast your burden on the LORD,” Psalm 55 says, and He will sustain you;” 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. The World expects its leaders to govern by force, or perhaps by the mandate of likeminded people, remember at the cross as Jesus hung dying “people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine and saying, ‘If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!’” And while on trial in front of the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate in advance of His crucifixion Jesus said to him, “My kingdom is not of this World. If My kingdom were of this World, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the World.” Our Teacher sets Himself in stark contrast with the World and the expectations of the World. When the World kills someone that it doesn’t agree with it happily expects that person to stay dead.
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 on 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.’ As Christian then, with Christ as our teacher and example scripture teaches us to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” As Jesus teaches, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. If you want others to be kind, patient and honest with you, with all humility, than that is how you must act toward them, even if they take advantage of this as they did with Christ Himself.
These things, meekness and humility, are godly 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. Be a good husband or wife, be a good father or mother: Be a good friend: A good Son, a good daughter, a good neighbour. 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 on the one hand the flashy splendour that the World loves and on the other hand the violent outrage that the World also 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 godly 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. It will all fade. It will all pass away.
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 yes even over 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.” Dear ones, 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 whether the lives of your family and friends and co-workers are improved by your faithfulness to your Good Teacher, or not I can guarantee that in Him, in Christ Jesus, you will find rest for your soul when you lay your burdens on Him, the kind of rest the World neither teaches nor provides.
So we end where we began: Who is your favourite teacher? Does someone come to mind? 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.
 Psalm 55:22
 Luke 23:35–37
 John 18:36
 Galatians 6:2
 Matthew 7:12
 Luther’s Works American Edition, Annotations on Matthew Chapter 1-18, Volume 67, Concordia Publishing House 2015, pg. 144.