Today we are looking at another wonderful invitation. This time it is given by Jesus, and directed to the ‘weary and burdened’. It’s that amazing invitation to come to Him and find ‘rest’ Matthew 11:28. It feels like a very good invitation for our day, because it is clearly not just speaking to the physically weary but also the ‘soul weary ones’, perhaps those wearied by all the cares that this pandemic has brought us.
Jesus’ invitation is wonderful. He effectively says ‘Come and walk closely with Me’. The picture of ‘taking His yoke’ on ourselves is not, I believe, the picture of a farmer yoking up an ox to pull his plough, but the invitation of a strong ox, coming along side a weaker animal, and inviting a partnership, in which he does the major part of the ‘lifting’.
I also see, in my minds’ eye, that the yoke Jesus puts around our neck, is actually His arm across our shoulders. The whole picture speaks to me of love, friendship, closeness and Jesus taking the strain out of life for us. The invitation is also to ‘surrender’ to Him, to allow Him to set the pace and direction of our walk. So before we say yes to this invitation, it is important that we count the cost.
In counting the cost, we see that the phrase, ‘My yoke is easy and My burden is light’, is a significant part of the invitation. Jesus is saying that in our surrendering to Him, in letting Him be the leader, we shouldn’t be afraid that somehow it is going to be uncomfortable –like a badly fitting yoke that chaffs. His yoke, His arm around us is, I believe, firm but also ‘easy’. It’s comfortable and not at all harsh.
Some of our stress and weariness can becaused by the driveness in our heads. The extra “shoulds”, “oughts” and “have to’s” that we put on ourselves. (You may need to listen to the conversation in your head to see if I’m not right about that). If we can surrender that ‘to do’ list in our heads to Jesus, for His direction, then we might find that life becomes more restful and sweet.
In addition to all the things in our heads that we feel burdened about, we can also experience weariness and the feeling of being under a heavy load, because of the worries and concerns that we have over things about which we can to do very little. There can be a feeling of powerlessness over concerns around family members, our livelihood, health, finances etc. and that can be emotionally draining too.
These things also need to be surrendered to Jesus, and as we respond to His invitation, and allow Him to place His yoke on us, to place His arm around our shoulders, we will need to remember that Jesus’ doesn’t always do things the way we would like Him to or when we would like Him to. We can never the less ‘cast all our cares upon Him, because He cares for us’ 1 Peter 2:5. .
This invitation from the Lord could indeed have been written for such a time as this. So let us say our ‘Thank you’ to Him, and let us respond by coming to Him and positioning ourselves under His care. I believe His pace may be different to ours, He may correct our direction a little too, but it will be a great relief to have Him carry the weight of those things that are becoming too heavy for us alone.
Finally the wonderful thing about being yoked to Jesus as a “fellow ox”, is that we will be close enough to Him to enjoy fellowship with Him as we walk with Him through the day. We will be close enough to hear His whispers of guidance and direction, and we may also hear, if we listen closely, His joy, His laughter and His pleasure too, that we have come to Him at His bidding.