“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
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Rest. An easy yoke. A light burden. Sounds almost too good to be true, in today’s rapid-fire, high-pressure, no-excuses world. And to be honest, for many of us here this morning, it is too good to be true. Or at least, it feels that way. Because although we are following Christ as best we know how, and perhaps have been following him for many years, his yoke doesn’t feel easy, it feels difficult. At times it feels almost impossible. His burden doesn’t feel light, it feels heavy, almost unbearably heavy. And the idea of “rest” seems like a bad joke.
Lock-down is experienced in many different ways. It depends on your circumstances:
Working from home
Working circumstances have changed
Church circumstances have changed
There is much to do
Suffer in silence?
In spite of trusting in Christ, we’re still feeling weary and burdened, rather than rested. We can feel embarrassed to admit that Christ’s yoke doesn’t feel easy to us; that his burden doesn’t feel light— but maybe we put on a smile and suffer in silence.
Does any of that sound familiar to you? At least some of the time?
We can think of Christ’s burden as something to add on to the burdens we are already carrying, rather than what it is meant to be, which is something that replaces those burdens. And so the light burden of Christ becomes just one more thing, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It can feel terribly heavy, because it’s added on to all the other burdens we’re already carrying.
And that’s our fundamental mistake. Christ’s burden is intended to be instead of, not on top of. And when we realize that, when we rid ourselves of all the burdens the world wants us to carry, we will find that in fact, Christ’s burden is light, and easy, and even joyful, to carry.
So how do we rid ourselves of all the other heavy loads that Christ’s light burden is intended to replace?
I listened to a discussion on Facebook. It was discussing today’s passage. It was reflecting on relationships.
Relationships have come very much to the fore during lockdown – the lack of contact, the need for others.
The discussion made me realise that with strong relationships – you can do anything. Working together positively, it is possible to work out almost anything.
On the other hand, if relationships are poor it’s almost impossible to achieve anything.
Joining together can give strength. If we can imagine the best and closest relationship that is possible – one of trust, care, unconditional love – that’s what we have in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We can share in that relationship. And us being able to join in that relationship is what Christianity is. Our relationship with God is absolutely secure.
“All things are possible with God” – Matthew 19:26
My yoke is easy
Life and stress…they go hand in hand. We will all experience this. There is no getting around it. Ultimately, the only way to find the rest we need is to turn to Jesus.
“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.”
A yoke is a wooden instrument that yoked two oxen together and made them a team.
And Jesus is saying:
“Be my teammate and together we will pull the load.
Together we will deal with the stresses of life.
Together we will carry your Cross.
And together we will lift your burdens and help lift the burdens of others.
Together we will be victorious over those things that seek to destroy you.
Together we will live the life you have been created to live.”
Being yoked with Jesus means that we are in a relationship with Him, where we have the opportunity to learn from Him the art of gentleness, warmth, love and assurance.
Being yoked with Jesus means to walk with Him and do the things He does—to be humble, putting the cares and needs of others before our own. And in this relationship with Christ we find eternal and abundant life.
Lord, yoked to you, we trust you for a sense of your presence and a sense of priorities. Lead us through this stretch of change and uncertainty. Help us to do what we do with wisdom and kindness, and for your glory – and may our ‘to-love’ lists stay much more our priority than our ‘to-do’ lists. Amen
My yoke is easy – really?’ was delivered by Cath Hilton to St Zoom’s on Sunday 5th July 2020. It’s based on Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. St Zoom’s is a mix of congregations from Bury, Heywood and Rochdale.