“Come To Me All You Who Are Weary …”
Jesus blamed the religion of his day for burdening people, imposing on them unnecessary demands, and making the Law harder to observe than it should be. He reaches out to people who feel burdened and excluded by all sorts of harsh teaching. And he promises them peace of mind.
In these few verses in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is inviting people who are tired and weary in many ways to come to him. These people are exhausted because they have been working hard. They are also exhausted because they have been doing things on their own, in their own strength. Maybe they have had the wrong priorities. Maybe they have a wrong understanding of what God requires of them. Whatever the case, their efforts have proved to be discouragingly futile.
“And My Burden Is Light.”
Instead of burdening their conscience, he calls them to a personal union with himself, ‘Come to me… learn from me,’ he says. Rather than giving them more laws, he offers a life-giving relationship. The core of Christian faith is not a detailed, demanding moral code but the person of Jesus Christ who is our Emmanuel, God-with-us. We do have a yoke, an interpretation of Scripture to live by. And we do have a burden, responsibilities as followers and servants of Jesus. But if we fulfil our role with Jesus close to us, sharing the load, and if we do things his way, in his strength, then our work will not become tiresome or burdensome.
“For My Yoke Is Easy …”
The yoke that Jesus gives is easy. Easy because Jesus shares it with us. It is easy because it is productive and useful, and not vain and futile. It is easy because it is correct and life-giving. We are called to come to him, as he has come to us, to relate to him in love, as he has given himself for us in love.
In coming to him we discover him to be, not an impersonal taskmaster, but rather, someone who is gentle and humble in heart. The living out of our relationship with him will be demanding; walking in his way often requires saying ‘no’ to other, seemingly more attractive, ways. However, his demands are the demands of love; the path he puts before us is life-giving rather than oppressive and overburdening. His loving relationship with us and ours with him empowers us to take that path, to walk in his way.
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