Matthew 11:16-30
A sermon by Pastor Eric Smith
July 2, 2023

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When people sing the praises of living in Coronado they mention things that make life on the island so lovely and convenient; the beauty, everything in walking distance, the sense of community, the weather. Thinking of the sum effect it can be summarized in two words… easy living.

Except for this week. Fourth of July week is exciting, but not as easy as the rest of the year.

The passage you heard Karen read concludes with this invitation from Jesus…

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It’s a beautiful offer. So typical of Jesus. As I read it and re-read it my focus went to this:

my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Jesus said that accepting this invitation makes things easy and light. As I thought about it, it dawned on me that it’s not really true. It’s a lovely sentiment, but thinking of my own experience, and that of others, I wouldn’t call it easy living. Who has had an easy life? Some struggle less than others, true enough, but take away comparisons and most folks can name the tough challenges they have faced.

A book many of you read long ago started like this…

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.

That was M. Scott Peck in the Road Less Traveled. He went on…

It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.


This might be where Jesus was headed.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism put it this way (and I’ll summarize)

  • Life is suffering
  • There is a cause – we mostly bring it on ourselves.
  • There is a way out of suffering.
  • In order to end it, you have to learn how.

So, in this passage, was Jesus suggesting life is easy when it’s really not? Was he using hyperbole to make a point? Or did he have something else in mind?

I found my answer in the translation of this verse…

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens

The literal translation of the original language is this…

Come unto me all the ones labouring and having been burdened

and I will rest you (repeat)

Now we’ve got it.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It’s not that life is easy. Rather he says that, yoked with me…connected with me, your life will be easier.

That Jesus will give we who have been burdened rest reminds me of the parable called footprints in the sand. I expect you know it.

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

We have this experience in life: God carries us when the burdens become too much.

There are times when the pain is so great that you cannot cope without the help of others.

I read about a pastor who asked members of his congregation what Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest meant to them. Here are several of their responses…


This means, no matter what happens, God will be with me.”


 This means never having to feel alone.”


This means having a sense of peace when carrying the small and large burdens of every day.”


This means that in times of trauma, friends lift us up. Friends are the hands of God.”


When all things seem impossible, I think of this verse. When I do this, I find an inner peace, and the problems eventually get solved.”


When the doctor told me that I had three years to live, the prayers that I prayed made me feel a huge burden was lifted off my back. That was eleven years ago.


And last…


Don’t wait for the big crisis to finally go to God.”


An amazing thing about Jesus was his compassion. He never turned anyone away. He never turns anyone away. He said,

I am gentle and humble in heart

He was compassionate and kind… he still is. Taking on his yoke has never been easy in the sense of no effort. Rather, taking on his yoke has always been easy in the sense of being engaged in a common task that matters, that feeds your soul, and that gives you life instead of sucking it out of you. The burdens are lifted.

Most mornings, as we get started with the day, Karen and I watch a television show… CBS mornings. It gives us the news, but not too much news. They have features and human interest reports. One of their in-the-field story-tellers is David Begneau.

Last week he told the story of David Breaux, a fifty year old man who lived in the city of Davis. For the last 14 years he has had a mission. He stood outside the Public Library, at the corner of C and 3rd streets in Davis, and spoke with people who were coming and going. He asked them a question… what is compassion?


Always the same question… what is compassion?


David Breaux wasn’t a crazy. He graduated from Stanford. He and his sister had a difficult childhood. The problem was their father.

David wrote: I grew up with an abusive dad. He was born in 1917 during an era with much different values and disciplinary tactics than today. During my early years in the late 70s/early 80s, in certain socioeconomic households it was normal to whip children. My dad whipped me, my older brother, and older sister, on average, about once every week or two.

He also beat our schizophrenic mother in their bedroom, under the cover of darkness, with a strap he kept in a nightstand whenever she went into a fit, saying he did so at the recommendation of their doctor.

When their mother died, their father asked Breaux to come live with him and help him… their mother had done it, and now she was gone. Breaux struggled. He ultimately found a way to forgive his father, and help him.

That forgiveness took him deep into the realm of compassion, and it changed his life. He realized that there was nothing more important for him to do with his life than to help people connect with compassion. So he stood on that corner… for 14 years… and asked folks, what is compassion?

He called himself a street therapist. The townfolks called him, The Compassion Guy.


He wrote…

I know I could never do what I do today as a figurehead for compassion if it were not for forgiving my father. I always suggest to those who come to me asking about forgiveness to do it before someone passes.


If you feel inclined to forgive someone, do it now. Don’t wait for the right time or right circumstances. They come in the now anyway. Release the fear and turn it into love. Now. It will bring a great sense of peace and understanding into your heart.

At the end of April came this news release…

A homicide investigation is underway after a body was found in the heart of Davis at Central Park late Thursday morning. Officers received a report of a person who appeared unresponsive in the park around 11:20 a.m.

Davis police said that the circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated as a homicide and that the victim had multiple stab wounds.

David Breaux was stabbed to death by 20-year-old serial murderer, who was later caught.

It was a huge shock to the community. He was a beloved man.

When interviewed, his sister said that she was working to forgive David’s murderer. How could she do that? She had found something that David had written seven years earlier. He wrote:

If I’m ever harmed and unable to speak for myself,

forgive the perpetrator and help others forgive that person.

The CBS reporter finished the story by speaking with a man who knew David and operated a nearby business. He said,

I never really understood what David was about until now. When he asked each of us, What is compassion? It was a call to action… to be compassionate people.

Here’s how I’d like to finish… I’d like for you to repeat Jesus’ words… I’ll say them, then you say them…

“Come to me,

you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;

 for I am gentle and humble in heart,

 and you will find rest for your souls.

 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”