“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB
Okay, so Susan and I have been thrust into a couple of hurricane-force schedules over the past few weeks. Our emails have resorted to choppy, fragmented sentences. Exhausted. Can’t see straight. I’m sure y’all can relate, we’ve all been there, right?
So where are these green pastures and still waters Psalm 23 talked about? Where do I get to lie down? And what is Jesus talking about when he says “I will give you rest?”
When ancient rabbis chose their disciples, they picked only the brightest. They’d invite a few straight-A students into their personal disciple-corps with this sentence: “Come take my yoke upon you.” A yoke, for the non-agrarian among us, was a collar fitted on a pair of oxen so they could pull a plow or cart. A yoke was a burden to those beasts. And so the rabbis were telling their chosen disciples: “Come, follow my way of doing things. Walk the way I walk. Put my understanding of our religion on your necks like a yoke.”
But Jesus was a Rabbi of a vastly different sort. He not only offered the invitation to follow Him to everyone (not just a few stellar students) but he told us his yoke would a “light” burden, one that offered rest.
But rest from what? Hectic schedules? Trials? Sorrows? No. He made it pretty clear that those sorts of burdens will assail all of us, whether we are following Him or not. The rest Jesus was talking about here was freedom from all the religious rules and regulations, from legalism. Instead of trying (and failing) to keep a zillion laws, we disciples of Jesus need only to believe in Him, resting in the Work he accomplished for us on the cross.
So what does that mean for Jen and me during our weeks of frantic flurry? For me, it means that yesterday, the Christian Sabbath, I didn’t get zapped. I broke the Sabbath, you see. I had a huge editing assignment due, and I simply had no other time to do it. So instead of resting after church and reflecting on God, as the Jewish laws would tell me to do, I got to work, earning money and keeping my commitment to a client. It’s not my habit to do that. I usually don’t. But yesterday … well I didn’t have another choice.
I’m so thankful my Rabbi put a yoke of grace around my neck so that even when my schedule exhausts me, I have rest in Him.