A Video Update from Larry
Devotional on the Goodness of Jesus
If I asked you to take some time to think about the goodness of God, what comes first to mind?
If you’re anything like me, the first things that come to your mind are gifts that God has given you. Perhaps your family or your health. Maybe it’s your home or your toys. What jumps to mind for you?
In James 1:17, we read that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James tells us here that all of the good gifts we receive should direct us upward to God.
We tend to focus on the gifts and actions of God. Christians are chosen and justified. They have been reconciled to God the Father, adopted as his children, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, sustained and strengthened by the Spirit, and will one day be glorified. While it is right and good to give thanks to God for these things and many, many others, we should be even more grateful for the one who gives those gifts—God.
Last week, as we looked at Lamentations 3 together, Larry encouraged us to remember not just the good God does for us, but to remember the good God is for us. But how do we do that?
The answer begins with knowing God, the one who has revealed himself in his Word and the one “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” He is an unchanging God, the same yesterday, today, and forever, and we can come to know him through his Word.
This morning we are going to look together at what the Bible says about him. While there are many places we could turn to reflect and meditate on the good God is for us, we are going to focus specifically on the goodness of Jesus as seen in one brief and familiar passage.
[Read Matthew 11:28-30]
This passage begins with an invitation: “Come to me . . .” This is where remembering the goodness God is for us begins—by coming. There’s not an electric shock we get to wake us up or a secret code we need to unlock our access. Jesus invites us to come.
Next, notice who this invitation goes out to. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, if you are rich.” He does not say, “Come to me, if you are super smart.” It’s not, “Come to me, if you have it all figured out” or “if you have it together.” What does he say?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden . . .”
The invitation of Jesus is a broad and universal call that goes out to all who are tired and troubled. Those who “labor” are those who are weary. Those who are “heavy laden” are weighed down by their burdens. Jesus does not qualify why one might be tired or burdened, he simply invites all to come.
Perhaps this is you—and to some extent it’s all of us. As we face questions and unknowns, disappointments, failures, and sin, disease, decay, and death, we are burdened and weary. Maybe you’re more aware of this weariness now during this unusual season. Perhaps you’re weighed down by concerns about the economic fallout of this pandemic. Maybe you’re distressed about the health and wellbeing of a loved one. Maybe you’re a mother who is exhausted as you care for your children 24/7 with no place to go, or perhaps you’re just worried about how much everyone else seems to be worried.
Weighed down. Distressed. Exhausted. Worried. Weary. Heavy Laden.
Here again the words of Jesus.
[Read Matthew 11:28]
What he promises to give is rest. Whatever you face and whatever you’re feeling, Jesus says come and you will be given rest. He does not say that all your problems will be solved or that you won’t have to work anymore, but he says that if you come to him he will refresh you.
Look at how Jesus describes this further in the next verse.
[Read Matthew 11:29]
We can see clearly that the rest we find in coming is not one that is free from work for we are to take his yoke upon us. A “yoke” was placed on the back of oxen—it was a burden to them—but it allowed them to be directed where to go. We are to take up this yoke and learn from Jesus.
To be a follower of Christ is to learn from Christ. It is to go to his school and to learn to think as he thinks. This is the path we must take to receive the rest that Jesus gives to all those who come to him.
It’s at this point in the passage that the most remarkable thing takes place. Read the verse again and see if you notice it.
[Read Matthew 11:29 again]
Did you see it? Jesus tells us about his heart. And he tells us about his heart because this is the reason he invites us to receive rest by coming and taking on his yoke and learning from him.
When the Bible talks about the heart it is talking about the center of all what do. The heart is what defines and motivates us. It’s the very center of who we are.
So, in the only place where Jesus tells us what’s in his heart, what does he tell us? What does he want us to know about what’s at the very center of who he is? What does Jesus want us to know about his heart?
Jesus says, “I am gentle and lowly of heart.”
Right here is where we see clearly some of the goodness that Jesus is for us. Let’s reflect on what he says about who he is.
Jesus first says that he is “gentle.” This word means meek, mild, and humble. For Jesus to be gentle means that he does not put conditions on whether or not he will welcome you. No fears, no doubts, no sin, can keep you from being welcomed by the gentle Jesus.
Jesus desires that no one be plagued by fear as they come to him. Charles Spurgeon reflects on these verses by paraphrasing Jesus saying, “Come to Me, you offending men, you who feel your unworthiness, you who think that your transgressions may provoke My anger; come to Me, for I am meek.” There is no one more gentle and welcoming than Jesus. Come to him.
Jesus adds to this that he is “lowly.” This word carries some similarity with being “gentle.” It means that he is humble. His heart does not beat for himself but for others. He embodies what Paul describes in Philippians 2:3, doing “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” and instead in humility he always counts others more significant than himself.
While Jesus is described in Hebrews 1:3 as “the radiance of the glory of God” and the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power,” he describes himself as lowly. This means that even as he is more glorious than anyone we can imagine, he is also the most approachable and accessible person to ever live. And he invites you to come to him.
If you were to imagine the one who was going to come and save the world, what characteristics would you give them? How would you describe the hero of your story?
If you’re being honest (and I hope you are!) I’m sure that your savior of the world would not ever be described as “gentle and lowly.” But this is exactly how Jesus describes himself. He is the gentle and lowly Savior. This is who Jesus is to all those who come to him.
[Read Matthew 11:28-30]
When we come to this gentle and lowly Savior, we will find rest for our souls, because his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Don’t miss the irony of what Jesus is saying. His yoke, rather than being the heavy crossbar that burdens us even more, is a yoke of kindness. His burden, rather than making us even more heavy laden, is a weightless burden. I read one author illustrate it this way:
“It’s like telling a drowning man that he must put on the burden of a life preserver only to hear him shout back, sputtering, ‘No way! Not me! This is hard enough, drowning here in these stormy waters. The last thing I need is the added burden of a life preserver around my body!’”
It’s absurd for us to fail to come to Christ, to reject Christ, because of the burden that he would be to us. His yoke is easy, not hard. His burden is light, not heavy. The same author goes on:
“What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’s yoke does to his followers. We are buoyed along in life by his endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness. He doesn’t simply meet us at our place of need; he lives in our place of need.”
This is the Jesus who invites us to come to him and find rest for our souls.
So, brothers and sisters, in whatever you’re facing and in whatever you’re feeling, we have a Savior who is gentle and lowly of heart, and his strong arms, full of grace and kindness and compassion, are open to you. This is the goodness of Jesus. Come to him.
Listen or Sing to These Songs
A Prayer Guide
Thank God for his unchanging character and faithfulness and that he is the one whose sovereign hand is in control of every circumstance we face.
Pray through the list of prayer requests that Nora sent out this morning
Ask God to bring this time to an end so that we can enjoy the benefits and blessing of gathering as the people of God in the presence of God.
Thank God that soon all the pain, sickness, loneliness, and tears will all be over when Jesus Christ returns for his bride. Ask the Lord to come quickly.
A Sermon to Listen To
Take some time today or this coming week to listen to and be encouraged by the below sermon from Mike Reeves that further explores the heart and goodness of Jesus.