Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
By Dr. Dan Wuori
(NOTE: This week’s children’s sermon makes use of a toy hammer and a real hammer. If these items are not easily accessible to you, the sermon can be easily adapted by substituting another suitable object – and a toy counterpart with which to illustrate the concepts of “real” and “pretend.”)
I’ve brought a couple things here today. (Hold up hammers so that they are easily visible to all.) Is there anything you notice that is the same about them? (Both are hammers, have handles, heads, etc.)
That’s right! We have a pair of hammers – and they look the same in a lot of ways. But there’s at least one way that these two hammers are very different. Do you know what I’m thinking of? If I needed to fix the roof here at the church – or drive a nail into a board – which one do you think I’d be better off choosing?
Of course! And that’s because one of these hammers is the real thing (it can really do the job we think it can) and one is just pretend. This one might look a lot like a hammer, but in truth it’s not really a hammer at all! If we tried pounding a real nail with this one it would probably break into pieces!
When Jesus was on Earth as a man he had a similar problem. He had to help people to understand that he was “the real thing.” And since he was real, sometimes that meant helping people to understand that what other people were telling them in their churches was sometimes pretend.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus explains – even though the people had been told otherwise and given lots and lots of special rules to follow – that there is only one real way to know God. And it’s him!
If you listen carefully, you’ll even hear Jesus sort of “make fun” of all of the pretend rules that the people have been given. During those days when something very heavy had to be carried or pulled, they would use animals to do the job – and they would attach heavy pieces of wood called “yokes” to their backs to help them pull.
Today Jesus compares the people to those animals. He tells them that they’re having to carry around all those pretend rules, but that the real way to God – his way – is much easier. Their pretend yoke is heavy, but his real yoke is light. (Does that make sense? Make sure you listen for it, OK?)
We thank you for sending your real son, Jesus, to show us the way and lighten our yokes. Help us to always follow his one true path.
Copyright 2008, Dan Wuori. Used by permission.