Thank you Lord for your faithfulness, and your timely interventions in my life. These things fill me with hope and I praise you for them.
Read Matthew 11:25–30
The Father Revealed in the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Can you recall any time when you were particularly aware of God’s forgiveness and mercy? Reflect on that experience and give thanks.
Jesus’ call for those who are weary and carrying heavy burdens to come to him is a very well-known verse which many find comforting. However, it is also a puzzling one when we remember the wider context in which it’s set. As we have seen from our recent readings, Jesus taught that following him is not easy: it involves taking up our crosses, facing persecution, even from family members, and being willing to lose our lives for the kingdom. Clearly then, Jesus’ talk of easy yokes and light burdens was not intended as a guarantee of a trouble-free life.
The Jews of Jesus’ day often spoke about taking on the yoke of the Law, which meant following the requirements of the Mosaic Law and, for Pharisees, their highly detailed oral regulations too, spelling out exactly how they felt the biblical Laws should be kept. Jesus believed that all these additional rules were not only unhelpful but damaging. He condemns the scribes and Pharisees for putting heavy burdens on the shoulders of others and not helping to lift them;1 they were guilty of weighing people down with rules and regulations. Rather than enabling folk to draw closer to God, this only succeeded in making them feel inadequate and distant.
Jesus’ way is different because he offers his followers a relationship with him rather than a set of rules. His Spirit guides and equips us, leading us into roles he has gifted us for, so his yoke fits well and is comfortable. His relationship with us is one of grace: he works alongside us helping us to change gradually rather than pointing the finger and condemning us. If following Christ feels more of a burden than a joy, what might be going wrong?
Lord, when we drift into rule-keeping and become overconfident or try to earn your approval, help us to remember how much we depend on your grace and mercy.
You call me to faithful discipleship Heavenly Father, to obedience and the acceptance of responsibility. I come to you, humble and loving teacher. Make me what you want me to be.
1 Matt 23:4