This time of year is often a challenge for many people. Our energy levels and enthusiasm are not on the same level as it was in January, and December seems far away. I think it is a problem that we all face to some extent as we all labour and we are all heavy laden with something. Many are tired and weary on a physical, mental or emotional level. We all have things that bother and weigh us down. It can be a wide variety of things, such as financial obligations, the sickness of a family member, living with HIV or cancer, a dysfunctional family or relationship, a worry about crime etc. Sometimes it is not even really big things, but just the same, they make us weary.
This wonderful passage at the end of Matthew 11 falls so sweetly on the ears in such times. Jesus invites us to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me”. A yoke rested on the shoulders of oxen that were hitched to a plough. It was used to distribute the burden of the hard ploughing work between the oxen. The oxen then pulled together and neither was overwhelmed. Neither carried the burden alone. When Jesus makes this invitation, he does not mean that we should take on His burdens, but that he is taking ours by pulling alongside us. Yes, we may be tired or weary. Yes, we may face difficult challenges every single day. I cannot even begin to comprehend the daily challenge of living with HIV. BUT the follower of Jesus, by the very fact of this commitment is yoked to Jesus and in that relationship, with Jesus taking on most of the load, we don’t find added burdens, but true inner peace. Despite how things may appear, the follower of Jesus knows the truth and that is that Jesus’ yoke is easy and therefore my burden is light.
Jesus makes this invitation to ANYBODY who feels tired and worn down and it is encouraging to know that this invitation still applies to us today. The beauty of this invitation is that is not only made to a pre-selected group of people, but to anybody willing to follow Christ. When we come to Christ by faith and make time to learn about Him, He gives us rest. When we take His yoke and learn, we find rest, that deeper rest of surrender and obedience.
To think about:
- What are the things that really wear me down?
- In which areas of my life do I still carry the yoke on my own?
- How can I learn about Jesus more, so that He will help me carry the yoke?
Ds Wynand du Preez is Reverend at Parkkruin Familiekerk (Family Church) – Parkview, Johannesburg