©Scott E. Shaum 2014
Matthew 11:28-30 is a well know passage. It is Jesus’ invitation to take on an easy yoke and a light burden, to learn of him.
“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.”
But what are we to learn of Jesus? I am not sure I have heard any specific explanations on this other than admonitions to take on the yoke, whatever that is in today’s practical terms.
I think the key to this is the verses immediately prior to this statement.
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'” Matthew 11:25-27
This brings tremendous light to what Jesus is inviting us to. He brings to bear a Trinitarian reality that is essential to this topic. One of the realties the Father is taking great delight in revealing to those who are willing to stop and see is his heart and relationship with his Son. The only way anyone can know the Father is through the only one who has ever seen the Father (John 1:14) and the only one who knows the Father. That is Jesus, the Son of Father. The Father has committed all of his riches to Jesus (John 3:35) – love, life, authority, etc. This is the nature of our God. He is a Father who loves to lavish abundantly on his Son. But he is not satisfied there. He then sends his Son to us that the Father may impart to us through the Son life and love as well. What is revealed to us through the Son is this Trinitarian communion. And this is what we are invited into. This is what we are to learn of Jesus – communion with the Triune God. This is what can provide rest for us in this wearisome world.
We are not invited into a morbid, lifeless religious system. We are not brought into a relationship with a God who is aloof, indifferent, cold, and vindictive. No, we are invited into the eternal communion of the Father and the Son. This is the yoke that is easy to bear. This is what brings rest to our souls. This world drives us on and on. Our fears and self-determination demands we work more and harder to justify our existence. This is a life of weariness, burden, and fear. Jesus says to learn of him. He is never driven by the needs around him. He is never exhausted from going and going and going. We never see Jesus rushing about overwhelmed by his schedule. He walks a steady pace of watching and listening to his Father. Jesus declared, “The world must learn that I love my Father and only do what he commands me (John 14:31).” Jesus’ eyes were fixed on his Father and his Father is not a hard driving master.
We are encouraged by Jesus to take our cues from him not from business or academic models nor a consumeristic culture that demands bigger and better, much and more. We are invited to learn from the Son how to listen to the Father before we say “yes” to the crying needs of the world.
What does this actually look like? Well, first it is relational, not a program to follow. And like any relationship, it takes time and focus. As I study the word, take walks to enjoy his presence amidst beauty and pray, read books, sit quietly to reflect with God what is coming and going in my life – all of these simple acts lived out in a relational posture toward God, my relationship with God grows. The truth is the Holy Spirit is ever extending an invitation to join in the eternal, loving communion of the Father and the Son. Here are some questions for you to ponder:Am I attentive and responsive to the invitation to commune with God? What simple practices will aid me to learn of Jesus on this matter?
Another consideration is that I am not asked to run out and build my own ministry model which I can manage on my own with a nod toward God for his “wisdom and strength.” I am invited to keep my gaze fixed on the Father and look for him to show we what needs and opportunities to respond to. This is not mere spiritual blather. This is literally what Jesus did and he is literally inviting us to learn from him how to live and work in this world like he did. God is encouraging us to not exchange mystery in our world of work and relationships for mere self-determining management. This requires prayer, waiting, watching, listening, seeking counsel, and sitting with a spiritual mentor who can aid us to see and hear God. Sometimes this active waiting can be for periods of time longer than we like. We are not after a limited, “perfect” will of God – as if there is just one right decision for every choice in life and I mess it up I miss it. But it is determining to not follow business or consumer models of living life and ministry. One way Jesus’ burden is light is that it is not all up to me. To take on his yoke and light burden is to watch him more than the screaming needs around us. Being responsive to God and not reactionary to the demands of the world is what makes for “rest in our souls” as we go about life.
What further applications do you see to this truth? How is God inviting you to learn of the Son and grow in attentiveness to the Trinitarian pattern for life and ministry? I’d love to hear your thoughts.