“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.”
It’s easy at the end of a week to feel absolutely exhausted. The pressures of work that have built up over the course of the working week often seem like a weight around the neck, which, as the weekend approaches, we can’t wait to throw off and relax a little. Add to that the other pressures that we find ourselves under – from family and friends, from Church and from other commitments, and life can feel like a bit of a struggle sometimes. In that context, today’s verse is a great encouragement.
In this verse, Jesus is speaking in the context of the religious legalism imposed on the Jewish people by the scribes and the Pharisees. They often spoke of taking on “the yoke” of the law. Jesus, whilst affirming that he had not come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17) had a rather different take on the message. His kind of faith is not one that forces followers to live by a prescriptive list of rules and regulations that must be obeyed; instead, it is a faith of personal commitment to him. If we strive to follow him and to honour him, everything else will fall into place, and we can be sure of our salvation. In Jesus we can find rest, for he is “gentle and humble in heart” and by following him we will find rest for our souls, that sense of inner peace that all humans long for.
Jesus might not be able to take away all the commitments of work and family life that we feel can burden us, but he can give us true inner peace. By knowing Jesus, the rest of our lives take on a different focus. By seeking to live out his teachings in our workplaces, no matter how good or bad our bosses are, we know that we are living for Christ. When things get tough at home, we can draw comfort from the knowledge that we, and our families, are loved by God. And ultimately, by knowing Jesus, all the stresses and strains of our modern lives are put into an eternal context; yes, life in the here and now but be busy, stressful, and at times painful, but if we honour Jesus, we are promised eternal life with him in heaven after death.
So as you prepare for the weekend, reflect on the fact that real peace, that inner peace that we can feel in our souls, is found in Christ. Let’s pray that we will feel that inner peace in the days ahead.