My Burden is Light

Bible Reading: Matthew 11:16-30

That last part is nice isn’t it?

‘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.’

How is it, I wonder, that Jesus can make this claim when his promise to his followers is that they will be persecuted, arrested, beaten and put to death for his sake?

It isn’t so hard really.

Do any of you remember being really lost?  Perhaps when you were young you got yourself lost from your family and you experienced the panic of being lost.

I have a vague memory of it from when I was young.  Of cause the world isn’t so big and scary when you get bigger, but to a child it is overwhelming.

I think there is an adult version of lost-ness that has the same panic attached, though we manage to hide it from ourselves and the world better than a child.  It is the panic of being lost in a universe, not having a solid anchor to hold on to.

I think a lot of people suffer from that long term spiritual lost-ness, until the touch of God on their life gives them a true home in the grand eternal scheme of things.

Here is one rest for our souls, to know we are no longer lost, but found; no longer spiritually homeless but eternal residents in God’s Kingdom.

Have you ever felt really guilty for something?  Again I’m thinking back to childhood.  It’s funny that this one stands out clearly through all the years.  A deep sense of guilt carves a life-sucking hole in your heart.  A deep sense of guilt will alter your perception of reality because you sense that the universe must surely be out to repay you for your crime.

Guilt is like a weight on your back.  Really I think it is a weight on your spirit, but that is so real that you carry it like a physical weight.  And it is always with you.

The image at the start of the classic story “A Pilgrim’s Progress” has Christian weighed down by the burden of his sin.  Reading the bible makes reality clear to him – he is a sinner.  How is he to be free from this burden that weighs him down and threatens his life?

He is sent on a journey towards God, and along the way he comes to the cross.  As he approaches the cross the burden spontaneously falls from his back.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Knowing you have a place in God’s Kingdom; knowing that God knows you and accepts you; and knowing that you sins are forgiven by God, and that your guilt has been removed by the cross of Jesus – these things remove the long term panic and burden of living apart from God.  This is indeed how Jesus’ burden is light.

So what of the earlier part of our reading, so easily skipped over because it’s meaning is perhaps unclear?

‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: “We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”

They are like those who try to set the agenda for everyone else.  They try to tell us what to do, but we are not going to do it.  They tell us to dance but we will not dance for them.  They tell us what to believe but we will believe what they tell us.

Whatever the world tells me to do, I will follow Jesus.  Why?  Because we have been shown so clearly that Jesus is the real deal.  Miracles abound to such an extent that libraries wouldn’t hold the stories.

Jesus’ woes seem so negative, but they are simple truth. In his day, he had walked through these towns and healed their sick and told them the truth about the Kingdom of God.  But despite the fact that they saw and heard these things with their own eyes, they stayed with the dance of this world.  They would not believe him.

Sodom and Gomorrah had no such advantage.  Tyre and Sidon had no such advantage.  But we do. The testimony about Jesus rings through the last 2,000 years, perhaps not always clearly, but always there.  In our own time, miracles in Jesus’ name abound.  But as it was in his own time, most of the people don’t care.

That is the way it has always been, and perhaps it always will be.  Lost in the universe, and with no answers for the sense of guilt that chips away at the fabric of their being, people wonder where hope will come from.

Then that kind invitation into belonging and forgiveness.  Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.”  Come with me and you can walk in confidence with a clear conscious in the sight of God.

Oh that the world would have him.  But the world is not here today, only us.  Oh that we would all him Jesus – his love, his forgiveness and his life.

He offers it freely – he always has.

I do seriously want to ask people in this next period of weeks to consider if they need to move deeper with Jesus.  If you’ve never said ‘yes’ to him, perhaps it is time to do so.  If you’ve never been baptised, perhaps you would like to declare your faith in Jesus by being baptised.  Or if you were baptised when you were young but you’ve never confirmed that baptism with your own declaration of faith, perhaps you would like to do that.

A touch from God is wonderful, but a life with God is eternally so.  Jesus invites you deeper still.

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