Our minds can be a blessing or a burden.
When the Bible talks about sin it talks about separated from God. Sometimes when we talk about sin we look at the narrow minded understanding of sin. The sin of the flesh is more then sexual sins as it is often interpreted in our days.
Sin in the right understanding is everything that holds your back from the love of God. It is usually something from our side and not so much from Gods side. God always loves us but we are not able to feel that love because of the war the wages in our minds.
That is what Jesus came for. To deliver us from that war that wages in our mind. Jesus first send out his disciples in Matthew chapter 10. Then in Chapter 11 the, the emphasis shifts. John the Baptist is in prison, and let ask Jesus if “he is the one to come”. Today Jesus criticizes the crowd for the way they responded to both John and himself. They found John some kind of a weird guy, so to say. He preached in the wilderness, dressed differently and ate locust. Some might have thought he was possessed. In our day and age he would possible be diagnosed ,according to the DSM V, as mentally ill. And Jesus hang out with the “wrong” people in their eyes and was considered a drunkard and glutton.
So Jesus question today is a legitimate one. “What did you come out into the wilderness to see?” It is a question to the people back then and to us here and now. We also have our expectations, assumptions about how God acts in the world. Those expectations can lead us to ignore or overlook the ways God is working in the world and in our lives. It also puts another perspective as for who God is uses as his messenger. It might be someone we won’t consider as one. In our, we need to be reminded that God chooses whomever he wants to choose. We need to be reminded also that he works in ways that we don’t want to see or want to acknowledge. There is also the assumption that following Jesus is difficult. Last week we heard that there is a reason for such an assumption. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”. Today we hear another message though. It are words of invitation and consolation. It are the words what we call in the Anglican tradition the “comfortable words”. In the liturgy we use sentences of scripture after the confession of sin. In the liturgical context, they are a reminder of Gods love and grace. But in the scriptural context they tell us something about discipleship.
Following Jesus can be hard and has consequences. But on the basis lies the fact that it a relationship. He called them to be “fishers of men”. And today he tells them that they can find rest in him. “Come, all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That’s an invitation we all need, clergy and laity alike. We live in a busy and noisy world. It is not hard to get overwhelmed by the voice of the world. At times we get overwhelmed by feelings of tiredness, sadness, anger and fears. Jesus invites us to lay it all at his feet. He invites us to find rest in him. It is like St. Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless until it finds rest in you”. This rest that both the Gospel and St. Augustine talk about is a rest between the teacher and his disciple. The teacher will always be with us, even if we move on her own. The words of the teacher go with us wherever you go. You probably keep the words of your teacher or mentor at school in the back of your mind, I certainly do.
Jesus presence is not just being with him but opening ourselves to the power of this presence. It is there that we find the ultimate rest that the world cannot give. We also have to extend that invitation to others. Jesus felt compassion for people for they were “without a shepherd”. We are called to show that same compassion. We are called to be a shepherd to each other. Our world is full of people that are looking desperately for “a shepherd” for a friend for their soul (“Anam Cara” In Gaelic). The question is whether we can speak the “comfortable words” to them: “Come unto him, all you that are weary and heavy-laden, and he will give you rest?” Amen.