My Burden is LIght- Matthew 11:28-30

The passage at hand is one which is often interpreted as Jesus promising to remove all “burdens” from those who come to him, as the promise of a life of ease, comfort and pleasure. A closer examination of what Jesus actually says here will quickly reveal that this is not at all what it means, but will uncover something much more powerful and profound in Jesus words here. Jesus begins here with an invitation to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. We begin by noting that this invitation is to “all”, that it is made to every human being who is “weary and burdened” to “come to me”. This is an invitation to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, not an invitation to merely believe a set of propositions or agree with a series of doctrines, but an invitation to walk through life with the person of Jesus. It is made to all who are “weary and burdened”, to all who have become weary, and this weariness comes from bearing a “burden”. So the primary question which must be answered in order to properly interpret this passage is precisely what is the burden here to which Jesus refers. The Greek word “burden” here is phortizo, which is a military term referring to the backpack which all soldiers were required to carry. So we first find that this burden is one which is common to all human beings, and one which every human being is required to carry. Jesus then promises “rest” from this burden, and we also find that it is in the form of rest for the “soul”. So what we find here is that the burden referred to is not a physical one, but rather a burden of the soul, a burden which is common to all human beings and which all are required to carry. This burden then, is not a physical one, but rather an existential one, a burden which is “born” as a part of existence, and it is the burden of living with the fact that life is suffering, that in this fallen and sin-cursed world, difficulty and hardship, pain and suffering, are universal realities with which all human beings must deal. There is no escaping this fact, and Jesus here does not promise to exempt those who come to Him from this reality, but rather promise to bear this burden with all who come to Him. He does so by telling them to take up his “yoke”. The yoke was essentially a piece of wood which was used to connect two beasts of burden to a load, so these beasts could pull the load together. So what Jesus promises here made to all who will take His yoke upon them, who will “connect” themselves to Him, is to bear the burden of existence with them, to bear the burden of the suffering of life with them, and not to take it away. He then tells us exactly how He helps us, how He goes about making this burden “easy” and “light”. He does so as we “learn” from Him. The Greek word “learn” here is manthano, which is commonly translated as to “disciple”. A disciple was not primarily one who learned some information from a master, but one who followed the master everywhere, and learned how to live life as the master did. So the way in which the burden of bearing the fact that life is suffering is made easy and light is by learning to bear the burden of life the way Jesus did, by being “gentle and humble in heart”. Jesus, who had the power and the authority to eliminate this existential burden from His own life, chose not to, but rather chose to accept the difficulties and hardships of life, to accept the suffering which was part of His “existence”, and to do so nobly and honorably, not with bitterness, resentment and complaining. The reason He did so is because He understood that His life had a purpose, that there was a “meaning” fundamental to His time spent on earth, and this purpose and meaning made the suffering somehow worth it. So what we are to learn from Jesus here as we are yoked together with Him is that our lives here have meaning and purpose, and we find these by being yoked to Him, and it is the discovery of the meaning and purpose of our lives which make the suffering of life bearable. The yoke which we carry together with Him makes this burden “easy” and “light”. The Greek word “easy” here is chrestos, which is from a root meaning useful or profitable, good or virtuous, and Jesus tells us here that it is to our long term benefit to yoke ourselves to Him, to find the purpose of our existence which enables us to bear the burden of life nobly and honorably, perhaps even joyfully. His burden is also “light”, which does not mean here that He eliminates the burden, but that he makes it lighter, not by reducing the load, but by making us stronger and better able to bear it. So what we find here is that Jesus does not promise to eliminate the burden of the fact that life is suffering, but promises that all who come to Him, who find their meaning and purpose in life from Him, will become more and more able to bear the burden of the fact that existence in this fallen world by nature involves difficulty and hardship, and that it is in finding that meaning and purpose in Him that we are enabled to bear the burden of existence with nobility, dignity and joy.

No Comments Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Growing In Grace  //  Living with a Purpose

Leave a Reply

Pure Spiritual Milk

SEO Copy... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse nunc turpis, cursus et interdum sed, lobortis vitae nunc. Integer placerat tellus odio, non sodales arcu fermentum id. Mauris vitae eleifend leo, et rhoncus odio. Ut et arcu eu ex tempus ultricies eu vel lorem. Curabitur eu consectetur neque. Suspendisse volutpat nibh urna, sit amet aliquet augue imperdiet in. Etiam eget felis pellentesque, dapibus dolor ut, sodales justo. Mauris eu arcu lectus. Suspendisse odio ex, dignissim sit amet ornare eget, elementum at odio.