“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
If you are connected to the school year, the summer season promises a change of pace. For some this means rest; for parents it might mean school-year busy-ness is replaced with childcare challenges or increasingly stir-crazy kids.
Jesus promises rest to the laboring and heavyladen, but does this liken discipleship to an endless summer break? Far from it. The rest Christ offers is not a rest from work. He points to a team of oxen in which an older is yoked to a younger. The soul finds rest in shared labor. The work is not toilsome, and the team can accomplish far more together than in isolation. The younger trusts that the older will lead them in the right work and demonstrate how to do it well.
Jesus removes our heavy loads of sin and turns us from the ruts we have plowed ourselves into. He replaces our labor to be loved with a labor to love the unlovable. Martin Luther describes it this way: “The yoke that Christ lays upon us is sweet and his burden is light. When sin has been forgiven and the conscience has been liberated from the burden and the sting of sin, then a Christian can bear everything easily. Because everything within is sweet and pleasant, he willingly does and suffers everything.”
This summer, seek not a rest from labor. Seek the shared labor in the Lord which makes our conscience light and our steps sure. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Peace and Rest, Pastor Tom