These days are hard times for almost everyone in the world. We face uncertainty about tomorrow, there is an illness that seems to be lurking at the door, as well as changes in lifestyle and habits in many areas of life that also have an impact on the family economy. All of that can be a source of stress that can lead to new problems. A reflection for us… In the midst of this difficult situation, is our faith getting stronger and more faithful in practicing God’s word, or do we just feel spiritually inadequate and tired. Praise the Lord! We have a Savior who invites us with all His love:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28, NIV)
What a comforting and encouraging invitation and promise! However, we must not stop at verse 28 alone, because Jesus’ words continue until verses 29 and 30. The unique thing is that “the invitation to come and the promise to be given rest” is followed by the command to take up His yoke and learn from Him:
“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: 29-30, NIV)
People who are weary and burdened are asked to bear the yoke and learn! Wouldn’t the burden get heavier and tiring?! What truth can we get from this passage?
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me”
In Jewish idea, a yoke means “a heavy burden”, comparable to the yokes resting on the bullocks’ necks. That heavy yoke is a law that must be obeyed, which is the Mosaic Law. The Law consists of hundreds of laws which are full of various rituals and are accepted as legalistic tradition. The Pharisees and the scribes demanded the Jews to obey the laws, while the Pharisees and the scribes themselves didn’t do it. We can find it in Matthew 23: 4, Luke 11:46, and Acts 15:10. Thus, in this context Jesus invites people who are weary and burdened by religious laws and rituals that provide no peace.
As a substitute for that heavy yoke, Jesus Christ offers His yoke which is easy to bear and His burden which is light, that is the first and greatest commandment: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
The Lord Jesus not only puts the yoke on our shoulders, but it’s His own yoke, which means He carry it together with us. That’s why the yoke becomes easy and the burden becomes light. Now, the same invitation is also addressed to us. The Lord Jesus promises to give us rest, but we must be willing to bear His yoke. In other words, we must live in His first and greatest commandment, that is love God and love neighbor as written in Matthew 22: 37-40. Why? Because if we do God’s word only as laws that must be obeyed, then we will be tired of the various rules, “Don’t do this, you have to do that, and if you don’t do it you will receive the consequences.” We will lose our joy in practicing God’s word. Conversely, if we do everything out of love, then obedience will not be heavy because love will lighten all burdens (1 John 5: 3). There is no power greater than love, especially God’s love!
If we are full of God’s love, then we will be able to love God and others. Love makes us treat other people in different ways. Love makes us live our life in a new way, which is from God’s perspective. We become stronger and calmer in facing struggles because it becomes easier for us to trust God. For that, we must continue to walk with Jesus and learn from Him, to be His disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus means being willing to be disciplined, willing to continue to be taught and trained, so that we become like Him, a person who is gentle and humble in heart.
“for I am gentle and humble in heart”
Many people have the concept of gentle and humble that only emphasizes action. People who speak softly and not show anger will be considered as a gentle person, and people who deny their greatness in front of others are considered as humble. In fact, it could be that a person who seems gentle and humble is actually rebelling in his heart or is deliberately controlling himself because he wants to be praised and considered good by others. The biblical concept of gentle (meekness) and humble (lowliness) is not like that. In the Greek text, the word “praus” (meek) and “tapeinos” (low) are followed by the word “tē kardia” (in the heart). So, meekness and lowliness are attitudes that come from the heart, not only measured by visible actions.
Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.
Lowliness describing the person who depends on the Lord rather than self.
Let’s learn from Jesus and become like Him. Jesus has authority and power, but He always submits to the Father and does everything according to the Father’s will. Jesus also showed His boldness and anger when He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves in the Temple. But He is also full of mercy on those who are weak and doesn’t reject those who are despicable. Jesus always full of love and forgiveness towards sinners, including those who tortured and crucified Him.
If we build a relationship and learn from Jesus who is gentle and humble in heart, then we will get rest for our souls, because we know that we are fully accepted and loved.
And if we have meekness and lowliness, we will be calmer and peace in living this life.
Gentleness and lowliness will be reflected in the attitude in living everyday life. A gentle person will give himself to be controlled by God, not by ego and emotions. He can be assertive, even angry, but in the right and necessary portions. A humble person will submit to God and rely on God, not boasting about himself and not looking down on others, because he knows that everything in him comes from God. If we continue to develop gentleness and lowliness, we will be more able to understand and accept others, more forgiving, less hardened when we are reprimanded and not ashamed to admit mistakes. We will become easier to control and lead by the Holy Spirit. And we know that we really need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all things, especially in tough situations like these days.
God’s people who are weary and burdened… Let us accept the invitation from Jesus.
Come to Jesus, take up His yoke and be His disciple, for He is gentle and humble in heart.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Not because being a disciple of Jesus is without process and carelessly, but because of Jesus Himself bore the yoke with us.
His love enables us to do His commandments with joy.
Come, accept His invitation and His promise, for only in Him do we find peace and rest for our souls, in the midst of whatever we are going through.
By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words
Photo Credit: Google Images ( wallpapersafari.com ) edited with pixlr apps