When Weariness Sets In
‘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 11:28-29)
Jesus spent most of his life as a ‘working man’. Brought up the son of a carpenter, he spent many years labouring in the workshop and ‘on site’ before starting the ministry for which he had come. Over those years, his hands would have no doubt been cut and calloused and his back would have no doubt ached. Like anyone involved with physical labour, he would most certainly have known what it was like to be weary at the end of the day.
But Jesus recognized that there is another weariness that can afflict us all, whatever our task in life. It is the weariness of soul and spirit; a weariness we can all feel when life’s pressures and problems relentlessly crowd in and there seems to be no relief. To such people Jesus made his amazingly kind, yet amazingly simple, promise: come to me and I’ll lift from your back this load that you have been carrying all by yourself.
But then he says something strange: for not only does he promise to lift our burden from our backs, he then invites us to pick up his burden instead! ‘Take my yoke upon you.’ What! We’ve just put one! Why pick up another again!? But look what he goes on to say: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.’ Jesus was thinking here of how animals were trained in those days. One new to the job would be harnessed alongside one that had been doing it for years and that ‘knew the ropes’. In this way, the new arrival would learn how to do things so much more quickly and easily.
Jesus says: that’s what I want you to do with me. Come alongside me, walk with me, and let me show you how to do things; for as you do, the burden will seem so much lighter. Today, this promise of Jesus still remains for all who will come to him.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont