“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” Matthew 11: 28-30
Today’s text is the well-known and well-loved invitation of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.” Are there any among us who haven’t felt that way at times? A kind of bone-weariness, tiredness, helplessness….it’s possible that you’re feeling that way today.
But along with the rest that Jesus offers in verse 28 – he appears to offer us work and a burden as well, when he says: “Take my yoke upon you”, and later when he says “my burden is light.” What does Jesus mean by this?
While there are many ways to view this text, the image of the yoke itself seems to give us insight to the meaning of Jesus’ words.
- The yoke that is talked about here is a double yoke. It is designed for two animals. Some labor is too difficult for one animal to do alone, but a yoke provides a way to combine the strength of two animals.
- When two animals were connected by a yoke, they were never the same. One of the animals was more experienced and the other was often younger and less experienced. Thus, during the work – whether it be plowing a field, or turning a millstone, etc. – the younger and less experienced could be guided and helped by the older and more experienced. This is always true, whether it’s a team of horses or a team of huskies for a dogsled. Jesus’ words to “learn of me” would point to this kind of relationship in which Jesus teaches and guides us through example.
- When Jesus gave his invitation to “Come to me if you’re weary” he meant “Are you tired of trying to live your life on your own? Are you tired of struggling with such a difficult task?”
- When he said “take my yoke” – he wasn’t offering a new burden to us – he was inviting us to come into his yoke so that we could work together. This is basic faith and discipleship in the Christian faith – it describes a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are being invited into a life and work relationship with Christ.
- When we live our life with Christ – letting Christ guide us and lead us – i.e., walking and working together in the same yoke – we find that the result is much different than when we were trying to do it all on our own – more efficient… less stress…. a lighter burden!
Won’t you accept Jesus’ invitation to join him in his yoke – to enter into a relationship with Christ?
There is a warning here – the invitation is only to those who are weary and heavy-laden with burdens. Many in Jesus’ time saw his miracles and heard his teaching but refused to believe, feeling that they had a better answer. If you feel proud and sure that you can do it on your own – then of course this invitation makes no sense.
But if you’re at the end of your rope – exhausted and tired – then now is the time to accept this beautiful invitation and promise. Come!
(this is a summary of the message shared via our ZOOM worship time on Sunday, July 5th)