‘Follow me!’ … on the road of rest
Matthew 11: 25-30 NRSVA
25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
‘Come to me, all you who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (verse 28).
These words I once heard described as ‘the greatest invitation ever made’.
In the earlier part (verses 25-27), Jesus thanks his Father that the wisdom of the Kingdom has been concealed from ‘the wise and learned’ and revealed to ‘little children’. Those, like me, who value and are nourished by academic theology, must recognise its limitations in delivering knowledge of God. On the other hand, I have been privileged to know island crofters whose spiritual and theological insights were profound, clearly flowing from their daily walk with God. This is not to disparage theology. It is to recognise our dependence on the grace by which God reveals himself to us, transforming minds and hearts. For that to happen, without exception, we have to humble ourselves and become like little children.
The outcome of this knowledge is thoroughly practical. To shoulder Jesus’ ‘yoke’ (an instrument of work for two together) is to enter into partnership with him in his ministry and mission in the world. What is he calling us to do, together with him, this very day?
In such service, paradoxically, we find the soul rest we all seek. Jesus frees us from the tiresome burden of legalistic religion and every other tyranny. For, as our true king, he is marked by gentleness and humility. Weary of carrying our own burdens, in and with him we find the answer to our deepest longings and the rest of heart for which we yearn. So we learn cheerfully to pull the weight of a life of mercy, justice and love of God and neighbour.
‘You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you’ (Augustine).
God of shalom, give us a childlike spirit to take you at your word, to open ourselves to Jesus the burden-taker, and to experience in him today, and each day, the healing rest of fellowship in service. Amen.