During Jesus’ time on earth, the Gospels allow us to see and hear glimpses of Christ’s words and deeds.
His words provide vital insight on His character, His ministry and His motivations.
In Matthew 11, we read an invitation that Jesus makes to a certain group of people, a group that many of us qualify to be in:
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus is talking specifically to the weary, the worn-out, the over-worked, the exhausted, the broken hearted, the overwhelmed. Jesus has a message for those of us who aren’t coping with life or who are being crushed under the weight of trying.
Jesus is calling us to stop, to stop trying to keep the plates spinning, to stop trying to please the people around us, to stop trying to fix everyone’s problems because, quite simply, we can’t. And when we try, the end result is just tired, weary souls.
Jesus cares about the burdened and broken and His desire is to give us rest. Jesus does not want us tired. Jesus does not want you over-worked and miserable. And for those of us who have fallen into this, He offers Himself, as the greatest source of refreshment and respite.
Jesus is calling the weary travellers to come and drop their luggage at His feet and to leave it there.
But this is not the end of the invitation.
Jesus does not simply tell us to drop everything in our lives and lead a carefree, happy-go-lucky existence. He offers us a better alternative:
29″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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Our Lord invites us to try things His way, to learn from Him. For Jesus, too, had a burden He was carrying. However, the burden He carried was light, and His yoke was easy. The life Jesus calls us to include carrying a burden, but it is not one that should leave us weary and down trodden. Jesus invites us to learn from Him and follow His example, and because He is gentle and humble in heart, we will find rest, even as we follow His commandments. He is not a cruel task master who piles more weight on our back. He is the humble leader, and does not ask us to do anything He has not already done Himself.
We are people of purpose, and the metaphor Jesus uses relates to cattle wearing yokes and carrying burdens to facilitate the work that they were purchased to do. Now although we are not cattle, we all have work to do. Jesus Himself had a yoke too.
Each and every one of us have tasks to complete and goals to achieve, whether they come from our relationships, our ministries, our gifts and talents, our professional responsibilities. However, we are not to allow those yokes to weary us and grind us down. And if they are, we are going wrong somewhere.
Looking to Jesus’ example, we are to learn from Him. He too had a yoke and a burden, and that was to do the will of His Father. Everywhere He went, that was His primary goal, to bring glory to God, to establish the Kingdom of God, to reveal the nature of God.
This is the burden that Jesus referred to as “light”. How can this huge undertaking of representing and manifesting God on earth be described as “easy”?
Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, this can only be done with His help. How can we hope to reveal the character of God, without being like God ourselves? How can we hope to be like God, unless we allow Him to transform us? How can we do God’s will without the help of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus’ yoke is only easy if we share it with Him. The burden He gives us is light only because we are meant to let Him carry it. Which seem like a bit of a cheat; but it’s true. We do His work with His help. Jesus does not expect us to carry the load ourselves. That’s what makes it easy.
Jesus’ invitation to us is an example of a beautiful exchange, but it is only for those who qualify, and to be honest most of us do. If we are weary and heavy laden, He offers us rest and the chance to swap our burdens for those that won’t break our backs.
But we can’t do that without Him. In order to enjoy His offer, we must abide in Him, acknowledge that His heart toward us is good and rely on His Holy Spirit to transform us and work through us.
It is then that we can truly enjoy rest and we carry the beautiful privilege of bringing Him honour and establishing His Kingdom here on earth.