Jesus The Rabbi // My Yoke Is Easy


Author: Andy Milligan Date: Sunday, June 15, 2014 Campus:

Andy continued the mini series on Jesus and focused on Jesus as a Rabbi. The questions and transcript are below, the prezi is also available here. Enjoy!

1. How do you feel about Jesus’ yoke being easy, is this a reality

2. God doesn’t judge you, is there any sin in your life you ate still holding on too?

3. How do you feel about worship? When times are difficult do you struggle to speak out? Read the verses about this and think about the promise in john 15 “Remain in me and I will remain in you”

Jesus the Rabbi – My yoke is easy

Last week Andrew began our mini series about Jesus and he spoke about Him as the outsider and challenged us to step out of our comfort zone. This week I am going to focus on the person of Jesus as Rabbi.

(Matthew 11:30)
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

In looking at Jesus being a Rabbi, the ultimate teacher I want to show how that makes this verse such a beautiful truth.

And to do so I want to start with an encounter Jesus had found in John 3.

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” 9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. 10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.[f]

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

I love Jesus. I love him for a whole bunch of things but I really wish I could have been there when he delivers this one liner to Nicodemus. You really have to take your Christian hat off here for a second to really appreciate what Jesus is saying.

To see the kingdom of God, to see Heaven on earth you have to be born again.

In my version it says Nico responded ‘What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’ I’m sorry there is no way he was that calm. I imagine Nico’s response as something more like this ‘what!!!, are you high, come… Nooooooooo!’

Seriously put yourself in his shoes. Nico has come to have this chat because he isn’t even convinced Jesus is the son of God. He recognises him as a respected teacher who can preform miracles but that is it. Nico doesn’t even ask a question, he just states who he thinks Jesus is.

Jesus doesn’t even say hello. He just drops this bomb. It’s proper ludicrous. But that’s Jesus. It’s easy to have this idea of him being calm and serene. But when you read his encounters with people we realise Jesus is not like the boring strict teachers like you might have had at school, he’s more like the wacky art teacher with dreadlocks or a feather boa who wants to spit paint out of plastic straws.

I think an encounter with Jesus is more like this next clip I want to show you…

It is from one of my favourite TV shows Derek. A mock documentary about 49-year-old Derek, a care worker in a home for the elderly who has worked there for three years. He is kind, helpful, and selfless, with good intentions, but is vulnerable because of his childlike naivety and distractions from society. He is ridiculed and ostracised, as well as being marginalised by mainstream society because of his social awkwardness, unattractiveness, and lack of inhibitions. He’s an outsider.

In this clip Derek is having a conversation with this financial manager about what it means to earn money.
(show Ricky Gervais clip)

Love it!!

Back to Nico

Thankfully that isn’t the end of the story, Nico doesn’t get it, he doesn’t understand and Jesus is like how do you not understand, you know the Bible?

I really feel for Nico at this point. Bear in mind Nico must have had a crowd or least a small group listening in to his conversation and he must be feeling a little bit awkward.

Then Jesus goes on to qualify his original statement to say that he means to born of the spirit, not another physical birth which allows Nico’ to breath again and the chance for Jesus to deliver a mini sermon which contains the most quoted and the most remembered piece of scripture ever… In Nico’s case for all the wrong reasons.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.

I don’t care how many times I have seen that verse I still love it, because it is the cornerstone of all we believe. If we believe in Jesus, God will forgive us and cancel the debt we owe, the only qualifier Jesus asks for is faith in him that’s it.

My yoke is easy.

(Show alpha video)
We use this video on Alpha to describe God cancelling our debt and It really hits home that God is the judge, but he paid the price, the punishment for the crime his final. There is no judgement for anyone who knows Jesus.

But it gets better, because Jesus the Rabbi wants to take us on a journey and To help us understand John 3:16 and Matthew 11:30 more fully this morning I want to take us deeper into the world of being a rabbi and following a rabbi, I want to make this statement of Jesus, my yoke is easy jump off the page like 3D.

Therefore I want to Hand out honey to every person and I would like every person to put a blob of honey on their finger and keep it there until I tell you.

Now turn to Numbers 15

37 Then the Lord said to Moses, 38 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. 39 When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. 40 The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God.

So in Numbers 15 God says I want you to remember the commands and put them on the corner of your garment and that meant that every Jew would wear a shawl with knots on the end reminding them of the commands. These tassels or knots were referred to as Tzitzit

So any good Jew would wear a prayer shawl, on which it had these Tzitzit (zeetzee) hanging from the edge. And they used these to help them pray. It reminded them of how God created them to live. If they had a slogan for T-Zit-Zit it would be: When life gets in the way and drags you down the wrong road be reminded by these Tzitzit how to please God.

And so one of the huge arguments amongst the teachers of Jesus day was how young can a child start to learn the Bible, the Old Testament, at what age can they be a sponge and soak it in so they can start to please God. This was a bid deal to them. And it is for us, the concept of learning and how best and when best to test children and young people still is huge, and rightly so because it is important.

Josephus a 1st C historian said

‘Above all else we pride ourselves on the education of our children’.

For the Jews education was central to the life of the community. They understood that if the next generation did not know the OT deep in their bones then they were likely to fall apart as a faith community,

Do we believe that as a church? Do our young people and children know that Bible well? Do they know it well enough that they could teach someone else if we were not around?

So their discussion was at what age should you start teaching the bible. Well here was the general consensus.

‘Under the age of 6 we don’t receive a child as a pupil; from 6 upwards accept him and stuff him with the Torah like an OX’

So your first year of schooling was at 6 and at 6 years old the rabbi would take your slate and cover it with honey, honey a sign of God’s favour, nothing sweeter and the Rabbi would say to you ‘I want you too lick the honey off your slate and fingers.

And the Rabbi would say something to the effect of ‘May the words of God be like honey on your lips.’

May the words of God be the best thing you have ever ingest!! As a child you were introduced to the bible as though this was the best thing you could ever memorise.

And So till the age of 10 you would memorise Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

You might think, yeah but that was then kids couldn’t do that now. Most kids I work with, know the latest Eminem album word for word two weeks before it’s released. They can memorise if they want too. Think about it, If I gave you four full years, 6 hours a day to learn the Torah you’d know it by heart. You may doubt yourself, but you would.

Then the best students would carry on studying and they would study another 4 years, from 10-14 you would learn the rest of the OT Joshua through to Malachi. So at 14 you would have the entire OT learned off by heart. And most of us need a calendar because we can’t even remember our schedule for next week!

Then at 14 if you were good enough you would start to follow a rabbi, our equivalent of a PHD scholar. And each Rabbi had a particular way of following the text. A way of living based on how they understood it. They would read it and say well I read the text and I say this, this and this but don’t do this or this. Whereas another rabbi would hear your teaching and say I will agree with this and this, but I disagree with that and instead I do this this and this. Does that make sense?

So every Rabbi differed on how to follow and apply the OT texts. If you have recently been on the bible elective you will know that as hermeneutics.

And the rules each rabbi had was called their yoke. So when you follow that rabbi you would take on their yoke. You would live your life by their rules. Some of those rules were mental. How many steps you could take on a Tuesday, to walking on hot coals after having whipped yourself. It was all about self justification. A feeling of piety based on what you have done.

Now the Rabbi’s wouldn’t take just anybody they would only take the best of the best of the best, the Oxford and Cambridge candidates. They were looking for someone who would take on their yoke and live it out exactly how they did. Literally live their life exactly like the rabbi.

And this wasn’t some small commitment, to follow a Rabbi would mean dedicating your whole life to them, you would eat with, sleep with them, go to the bathroom with them. Seriously. The student would want to do everything exactly as his Rabbi did and this is where we get our word disciple.

To be a disciple is to live your whole life following your chosen teacher.

And so along comes Jesus a Rabbi. A boy who had a learned the Torah, had learned the OT he becomes a rabbi and he is looking for disciples, disciples who will dedicate their lives to following him.

And he says my yoke is easy, the way I want you to do life isn’t going to be a burden it isn’t going to weigh you down. No it’s going to do the exact opposite it is going to set you free.

It’s going to bring about radical change in your life, but not through rules or laws but through my spirit.

Jesus knew that in believing in him we’d change, we don’t need a set of rules or a yoke that is hard to follow, we need Jesus, we need the spirit of God to make us new, to birth within us a new life that changes us from the inside out.

It creates in us a new spirit that does things Jesus’ way not out of duty but of desire and love. That does things his ways because we want too, and feel that we have too and that any other way is contrary to our very nature.

But I think we find that hard to hear. The freedom is too much, it’s like a kid being set loose in a sweet shop, it’s too much freedom.

So we beat ourselves up, we get ourselves down when we mess up and start turning to this and that to make us feel better and then we start to look at others and start to judge them for how they have messed up and how we wouldn’t mess up that bad and it all gets a bit crazy and out of control and before we know it we feel a bit lost.

Maybe feeling like we don’t know Jesus like we used too

Maybe feeling like we don’t want to go to church on Sunday

Maybe feeling like the faith we thought we had doesn’t really exist.

But Jesus says No Stop! Just believe, let my spirit fill you so that you can become like me.

My yoke is easy.

Be free!

That doesn’t mean we run riot and start doing whatever the heck we want.

But it does mean that we need to live this life knowing that God does not judge you. He doesn’t judge you. You are free and God wants you to live life to its full.

And when we mess up that’s ok, God expects it. I remember when I first found faith the thing that really drew me is that God still wanted me knowing I would sin, knowing I’d mess up and hurt him. He still wanted me that’ awesome.

This morning Jesus the Rabbi is saying to all of us, if you know me you are my disciple and my spirit is in you, helping you a live a life honouring to me, I do not judge you.

And so I want to challenge two different groups of people this morning. Firstly I want to challenge the group who are maybe struggling with their faith a bit at the moment, Jesus’ yoke doesn’t feel easy.

It may be a or sin you don’t feel forgiven for, let it go, God says you are forgiven, Jesus paid the debt.

It may be a feeling of unworthiness, Let it go, God says you are worthy because I am worthy

It may be a feeling of uncertainty in your faith, let it go, God says if you know my son your name is on the guest list.

Whatever it is, it isn’t bigger than God and he definitely wants to speak into your life about it, tell someone, a burden shared is a burden halved.

The second group is those who it may be that you just don’t feel on form spiritually at the moment or a bit disconnected with God. Maybe you are not hearing God as much as usual or maybe you just feel a little under the weather spiritually as if God isn’t engaged with you as much as he normally is.

If that’s you I want to encourage you, that we all go through these times, it’s normal.

And I really hope that the people who stand on this stage don’t come across as squeaky clean, people who never struggle because we do.

This is a church full of broken individuals, this is a hospital not a hotel. People are here because they are ill not to just stay the night.

Last summer I remember I was having a bad week and someone said to me, you ok? And I said no but I’m not really sure what is wrong and this person said well I’m sure you will be fine you always seem to have things sorted.

I was gutted. If that is how people view me I am disappointed. I don’t have things all sorted and I don’t ever want to be viewed as such. I’m broken and Jesus is fixing me bit by bit but it’s going to take time.

But Jesus the Rabbi says to me. Andy – My yoke is easy, I don’t judge you, I am with you through this.

And Jesus the Rabbi says to each of us. My yoke is easy, I don’t judge you, we are in this together.

And God says I am with you, you may not see me or recognise me, but I’m here.

But I also want to encourage you to sing, it’s easy to stand there when you feel like that and not sing.

Because otherwise discontentment can start to set in and that leads to negativity and criticism. Both of which are like a black hole that seeks to suck all the want to praise God out of us and that’s a dangerous place to be.

A few years back I used to sometimes to stand and not sing because I didn’t feel like it and didn’t want to sing something that I didn’t mean. Looking back I realise now it was folly. When I don’t worship I don’t connect with God and things get worse.

When I do worship God draws near, it’s obvious which one I should do. I know it’s hard, it’s hard because when you don’t feel like it, you don’t want too, but that thought is counter intuitive. In john it says remain in me and I will remain in you. So when we feel a bit off the best thing we can is open our mouth and sing.

Speaking out is powerful. That’s why in Romans 10:9-10 it says this.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

And In Revelation 11

11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

And in Psalm 8

3You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength,[b]
silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.

We need to speak out, you feel off form, worship God, nothing can bring us back on form quicker. And go tell someone, maybe you don’t want to come to the front you find it embarrassing, fine, grab someone at the end of service you love and respect preferably someone in a union group ask for prayer. (Joke)

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.

Jesus the Rabbi says – My yoke is easy.

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