The Sovereign Lord has given me a learned tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.
Word to sustain the weary. This is the fifth week of our lockdown and I’m sure I’m not the only one weary of this lockdown and waiting for a word from the government to deal with it, a word from the medical people to relieve my weariness of this pandemic. A word to relieve the weary. But of course there are many other things in life that weary us, tax, travel, chores, our good Godly obligations, and also, sin, death and the devil. As Paul writes, who will rescue me of this body of sin? Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ my saviour (Romans 7:24). He is the one whose words are spirit and life as we heard in John 6, He gives the Word that sustains the weary.
And now He speaks to us who suffer, who grow weary, who need help. Our words, which often just add to the weariness, cry out to the Lord who loves us, and as the Psalmist sang, He hears our cries for mercy. He hears us, listens to our weary words. Perhaps worry and fear have entangled you, or apathy and a lack of motivation pulling you down into that couch, or maybe you have been overcome with anger and frustration. And no wonder, I mean just look at the horrors of this world, the murder in Afghanistan, the abuse in Myanmar, and the isolation of many here in Australia. And on top of that, look at the condition of your heart, of your words and actions this last week; Christ died for you, can you say with Him in Isaiah, I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away; or as James reminds us, do you with the same tongue praise God our Loving Heavenly Father and complain against and ridicule humans made in His image (James 3:9)? Who are you really? Who do people say you are?
But more important, who does God say you are? Listening to Him, throughout His Word He says you are broken, fallen; you’ve turned from who you are meant to be to follow after your own desires and be enslaved to them, perhaps by belly or fear of COVID; you’ve forgotten what is good, what is true, what is beautiful; you’ve been corrupted, listening to the arrogant, the hateful and hurtful, the deceptive, the wicked, and have submitted listening to their poor and weak words. Words that bring no comfort to the weary. Too often you are with Peter as Jesus rebukes you both, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ (Mark 8:33) Too often we refuse to listen to Christ’s word that sustains the weary and make ourselves enemies of God.
And yet Jesus says, ‘Get behind me.’ Give up on those human concerns, be free from your enslavement to sin, and dwell in the concerns of God, get behind and follow Jesus, His Word, His Work. Yes, these words are harsh, just as His words to that Syro-Phoenician woman last week (Mark 7:27), and yet they sustain the weary. They tell a real truth, but a truth that is passing away along with this weary world (1 Corinthians 13:10). A truth that we confess, we agree with, when we confessed our sins in preparation for receiving God’s service today. And that learned and wise tongue of Christ brings us His Word to sustain the weary. ‘I forgive you all your sins.’ You are forgiven. This is now who God says you are, forgiven. Your brokenness, your sin, your enslavement to your own desires is taken to the cross, dealt with, dead, as Jesus said, ‘it is finished’ (John 19:30). You are brought by Christ’s Words today into His New Everlasting Life. United to Him in mercy; denying yourself, taking up your cross, your death to sin; and following by the strength of the Holy Spirit, we are now on God’s side according to His promise. According to His Word that stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
And so with Jesus we can confess that Our Heavenly Father wakens us morning by morning, even if we are not able to leave our house. He opens our ears to listen to His instruction, each and everyday. Forgiven in Christ we are not rebellious, we are focusing on our saviour; united with Him in suffering and weariness the Lord helps us and we will not be disgraced. Because we are with God Almighty, who could condemn us? Our sin? No, it is taken and gone. Death? No, Jesus our Lord is The Resurrection and The Life. The devil? No, bound, defeated and cast out, he has no power over us whom God has declared forgiven. As Luther sang, the devil is nothing but a liar, don’t listen to him. Rather listen to Jesus, who comes to save our souls, to save us from the ways of sin, death and the devil. If He is with us, who can be against us? We have no need to fear, or to be ashamed of our cross or His suffering. If we are ridiculed, abused, for living the way of Jesus, we are with Him and He guards our soul, our life, forever. You who are weary, hear again His Word to you and follow behind the Lord our saviour.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now through all our troubles and into life everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.