Following Christ Is Not a List of Rules

Matthew 1128 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 11:25–30 (ESV)

25 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; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 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. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus calls on all with the words “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When a disciple followed a teacher, the disciple followed the teaching and rules laid down by the teacher. The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day had laid down extensive rules about what constituted acceptable religion. The path of those leaders was suffocating and a great burden and failed to give life (cf. Matthew 23:1-4). Jesus changes all of that. He promises rest from the heavy load of rules and restrictions. He promises a light load.

Perhaps you know someone or have attended a church where being a Christian is defined by a list of rules that tell what is and is not allowable. Scripture tells us that we are not accepted by God because of anything we can do (or not do), but we are accepted through our relationship with Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect, sinless life that none of us could and his righteousness is credited to us. Yes, our lives should be marked by growth in holiness and a desire to please the Lord, but not because we think that is what makes us acceptable to God. We are accepted by God because of Christ alone. Our desire to please the Lord is motivated by our love for him and because the Holy Spirit is at work within us to change our wills and desires. Are you frustrated and overburdened with trying to follow all of the rules? Run to Jesus. He kept them all for you.

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