After a hard day of work – we are tired.
Even if we no longer go to a job, the job of living is hard work!
Let us hear Jesus’ words;
“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
In this passage, I see a word of invitation and a word of encouragement.
We already know our condition, don’t we? We are weary and burdened. What are weary? What are we tired of? Bills, the unending cascade of troubles - our own and borrowed troubles. You know what your own troubles are – and then you and I take on other people’s troubles – their children’s illness, relationship difficulties, maybe a caregiver shares a burden and you take it on – borrowed troubles.
So we need to hear Jesus’ word of invitation: “Come to me.” Why is so hard to receive the invitation? In America we are taught to be self-reliant. Do not lean on others. Pride and our ego keep us from opening our hearts and minds to Jesus’ words, “Come.”
Jesus offers two kinds of rest. The first rest is a gift. Listen to Jesus’ words; “I will give your rest.” This is an unearned rest. There is nothing you can do to win the right to receive this gift of rest. Why is it so hard to be a receiver? Pride? Our fierce independence? Does receiving mean we are weak? Are we so bound to the things that keep us tied to this world that we cannot hear and receive Jesus’ invitation? The rest is filled with grace – unmerited favor and goodness from Jesus. Have you received this beautiful invitation to enter into the rest of forgiveness from the burden of guilt and shame?
The second rest Jesus offers us is a learned rest. “Take my yoke and learn of me.” Being a follower of Jesus is to become one of his students or disciples. Jesus gives us rest and he also instructs to learn of the rest he will give you.
This learned rest is a yoked rest; we join Jesus in the work he is doing in the world. It has been said that to enter into this yoke is to understand that it is a yoke that perfectly fits us. The carpenter who builds yokes does not have a “one-size-fits-all” approach to yoke-making. Each yoke is matched with the oxen pulling the plow or wagon. The ox does not immediately become an expert yoke-partner. The ox slowly learns how to walk with the yoke and do the work asked of him. Joining Jesus in the yoke – remember, Jesus is on the other side of you bearing his part of the task. If you think that doing the work of Jesus is difficult, it might be because you are trying to do all the work yourself. Learn to rest in the yoke with Jesus.
And here is the second word, encouragement. First, Jesus invites you to enter into his rest. Now he offers us a word of encouragement. “Take the yoke and learn.” Do you ever feel like giving up? Get tired? Hear Jesus’ words of encouragement: Learn of me – my yoke is easy, the burden is light. After you have accepted the invitation to receive the rest Jesus’ offer, you are encouraged to join into the fullness of yoke-bearing.
Jesus is looking for yoke-bearers. Jesus has much work to do. After you have accepted his invitation to receive his rest, we are encouraged to fully participate in Jesus’ life here on earth by being one of his yoke-bearers.
(c) Ronald Friesen 2016
This was delivered as a message at Glencroft Retirement Community, September 4, 2016.