This post first appeared in the Christianity for Life blog
Tomorrow’s Daily Verse at Search The Bible includes one of the most beloved and precious utterances from our Lord during his earthly ministry; this is His invitation to… “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
Jesus didn’t say, “Come to church,” or “Come to compliance.”. He said, “Come to me!”. This is a loaded statement.
Who is this man who dares to declare that we should all go to him? No other person but the Son of God could be so bold as to suggest that He alone can give us rest from our labors and burdens. And only the Son of God could claim the ability to give that same rest to everyone who comes His way.
Jesus extends this invitation to all who labor and are heavy laden. In the context of the times this would have held significance for Jews who struggled under the heavy burden of God’s law and who labored to live by the rules. And if that wasn’t enough, there were additional obligations imposed by religious tradition and enforced by the Pharisees of the time. Sound familiar?
We know that Jesus removed the burden of the law by taking upon Himself the consequences of our inability to comply! He took this burden of our sin when he died upon the cross. But it remains easy to get caught up in the trappings of religion that involve rules and regulations imposed by worldly tradition. We must remember Jesus’ invitation to go to Him. He is our focus. He is our Savior. He alone is our rest.
The Lord continues His invitation to have us learn from Him. Another loaded statement.
Who does He think He is to have us learn from Him? A lowly carpenter or the Son of God? Indeed, Jesus speaks of a divine learning. This comes to us twofold. Firstly, we can observe Jesus during His ministry here and learn from Him. What did Jesus say? What would Jesus do? Walking in His steps. Secondly, as Christians we live a life of continuous learning from the Holy Spirit. Our paths are guided and truths are revealed. God’s will and God’s timing.
Jesus declares that He is gentle and lowly in heart. What’s that got to do with anything? Well, He continues, “…and you will find rest for your souls.” Isn’t that a great picture? Not in the visual sense, but in a calming, all-enveloping feeling of selfless love, coming to us from Jesus who is willing give His all, to empty Himself before God on our behalf. So we may have rest in our souls.
Does this mean we can sit back and rest now? Are we done?
Jesus asks us to take on His yoke. He says its an easy yoke involving a light burden. But this doesn’t mean life will be a walk in the park from here on. On the contrary, we live in the world. The fallen world. Around the globe we’re facing increasing challenges to our faith. Many of us are suffering persecution and death in the name of Jesus Christ. Those of us who live free face the daily challenge of sin and temptation, and we feel the burden of the suffering of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. So where’s the light and easy part? Everything is relative.
We are yoked with Christ. As we push and pull against the burden of life in a fallen world, Jesus is pushing and pulling along with us. I think of it this way; it’s me and Jesus and the yoke straddles our shoulders. I’m on one side of the yoke and Jesus is on the other. We push together and can break through any obstacle. We can pull any load and achieve anything and everything just so long as we push and pull together.
This is a metaphor. God will use me according to His will to further His Kingdom. This will be burdensome at times. But I can do nothing without Jesus who lightens the load. Contrast this with the unbeliever who must tackle this fallen world entirely alone with nobody to help except for others facing their own worldly challenges without Christ. Their’s is a formidable load.
My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much. We labor against the challenges of this world and we grow weary. Sometimes we despair at the fearsome weight of our burden. But we’re so grateful that we can come to you. Help us to remember that you will share our yoke. Strengthen our faith such that our burden grows light and we find rest in our souls. All in the knowledge of eternal life and salvation through your work on the cross. Amen.
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