In our scripture lessons today Paul is voicing his frustrations. He is out of sorts because, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t get himself to do what’s right. Every time he tries it ends up being the wrong thing.
It’s like he’s two different people in the same body and they’re at odds with each other. Have you ever felt like that? Then you know what Paul’s talking about.
At the end of the reading for today Paul wonders who can save him from this body that’s bringing him to death. He realizes that only God’s grace through Jesus Christ can save him. And he thanks God for that.
The gospel lesson from Matthew begins with Jesus complaining about the fact that people are still questioning who he is and why he doesn’t do what other rabbis or teachers do. God sent him to these people and they refuse to receive him.
And then he thanks God that those who supposedly know-it-all have been struck deaf and those who are thought to be illiterate get what he is teaching.
Jesus then invites everyone who is tired of the “old way” of doing church to follow him. He invites them, and us, to join him in his work and walk with him, to see how he does it. In some translations the word “yoke” is used by Jesus. He invites those listening to put on his “yoke” because its not heavy and isn’t the burden that the Law is. In fact he’s inviting them to get beside him, maybe that’s why his yoke is easy because he’s leading, showing us how to do it.
Jesus is asking us to learn from him. We are to learn the “unforced” rhythms of grace. We are invited to “keep company with him.” Oh, if only we would.
But we aren't any different than Paul. We want to, we know we should, we know that our lives would be easier and lighter but sin keeps us from doing it exactly like Jesus. Thank God we are forgiven for not being perfect like Jesus through the greatest gift anyone could ever receive, the gift of Jesus Christ.
So, what are we to do? Will we ever get to be just like Jesus? Only if we put on his yoke. Only if we keep company with him. Only if we let Jesus have control, of everything.
Friends, I don't know about you but I know that I'm not there yet. Some days I think I'll never make it.
I believe that we need to remember that even Paul struggled with these very same issues. If a saint like Paul found himself doing what he knew he shouldn't but kept on trying anyway, that gives me hope. And you should be encouraged too by these words.
Keep company with Jesus by going to his Word, by talking with him in prayer, and spending time in quiet with him every day.
Join Jesus in this life and work he has called each of us to. Remember none of us are in this alone. Jesus is walking and working right beside us as we labor for justice and peace in this world.
Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.