The Standard July 16, 2020
Jesus is teaching and preaching in the towns of Galilee when he says, “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)
Many of us are feeling tired and weighed down from the ripple effects of COVID-19. The pandemic has hurt countless people physically, economically, and emotionally all across the globe. Numerous other personal situations threaten people’s sense of peace and stability. Jesus proclaims himself the source of soul-satisfying rest. We can have our burdens lifted because God gives a depth of peace and hope that is often incomprehensible.
It is interesting that Jesus uses the yoke as a picture of what we can take upon ourselves in order for our load to be lightened. The yoke, a wooden harness usually used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull a plow or cart together, connotes work. Why would Jesus use this metaphor when work seems like the very thing which does not bring rest? What is this work that God desires? We read about it in John 6. “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’ Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” (John 6: 26-29)
We are to have faith in Jesus, the One sent from the Father. Through believing we can find rest. A favorite African-American spiritual illustrates how joyful it is to lay down our burdens. “Glory, glory, hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down. I feel better, so much better, since I laid my burdens down! I feel better, so much better since I laid my burdens down! Feel like shoutin’ hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down! Feel like shoutin’ hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down! I’m goin home to live with Jesus since I laid my burdens down! I’m goin’ home to live with Jesus since I laid my burdens down!”
Contemporary Christian artist Crowder sings a more mellow but equally applicable song entitled “Come as You Are.” “There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed. Come sit at the table. Come taste the grace. There’s rest for the weary, rest that endures. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure. So lay down your burdens. Lay down your shame. All who are broken, lift up your face. Oh wanderer, come home. You’re not too far. Lay down your hurt. Lay down your heart. Come as you are.”
This week may we come to Jesus, lay down the things which burden us, and receive rest for our souls.