At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness. “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:25-30, Common English Bible).
The Pharisees, Saducees and the experts in the law had done a good job of taking what was already a difficult system and made it worse. We already have talked about fasting. The fasting requirement in the law was to fast one day a year, on the Day of Atonement, or as we more likely know it, Yom Kippur. Somehow the Pharisees and their cohorts had expanded the tradition form a day a year to a day a week.
Fasting is a good example of the legal system in Israel during Jesus’ earthly life. Many things were considerably more difficult because these experts in the law were all about enforcing the letter of the law that was completely impossible for anyone (other than Jesus himself, and he wasn’t interested) to follow.
Trying to live by the law was exhausting and it gave very little room for any kind of life. In our lesson today Jesus wasn’t really talking about the physical burden most people carried in his day. That wouldn’t change for most people. Whatever your job was, you still had to carry through with it in order to provide for your family.
Think about a Biblical era person like “The Woman at the Well.” She was understanding Jesus’ offer of “Living Water” to be physical water instead of a spiritual gift. She was tired of hauling water and who can blame her. I remember as a kid on Scout camp outs having to haul some water. It wasn’t as much and it certainly didn’t involve a daily task for my whole life, but it was enough that I have no trouble seeing that someone would want Jesus to lighten their load. Still, when all was said and done, if hauling water for the household was your task, even after meeting Jesus, even after accepting Jesus, in the end you would still finding yourself hauling water or going thirsty.
The physical load wouldn’t go away. Jesus was talking about the spiritual load that so many struggled under. The Pharisees, Sadducees and experts in the law burdened people with trying to do the impossible. And, as we know, they would never earn God’s favor because they would always fall short.
What they needed was something else and Jesus was offering it to them in today’s lesson. Jesus was saying, you don’t have to be burdened by trying to do the impossible. Come to me and I will give rest to your weary soul.
There is a word for that. The word is grace. Jesus was offering something the people didn’t deserve, couldn’t earn but was what they desperately needed. This easy yoke Jesus offered was grace.
Jesus offers the same thing to us today. We may get burdened in different ways. Still, we need rest for our souls. Jesus offers us rest and that is one of the places you and I can find grace, in the yoke of Jesus Christ. His easy burden lightens our heavy load.
How has Jesus offered you rest for your weary soul?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.