“Lay that burden down”
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
During the time Jesus lived on earth, the Pharisees laid heavy requirements in addition to the Law on their own people. The priests required obedience from all, lest they be shunned among the devout and expelled from temple life.
Jesus, seen as a “radical,” is offering a new law or command for the people to live by. He tells them “learn from me,” and He teaches them the way to live by His Word alone. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17).
Another way to look at these verses is through the lens of labor. Since the fall of man, God took away the rather simple life in the Garden. After the Fall, mankind is to labor because of sin. For women, labor pains are greatly increased during childbirth, and they are to be submissive to their husbands. Men are to toil among the thorns and thistles. We also have been separated from the animals and will work for our food all the days of our lives (Gen. 3:16-19) .
Jesus knows when He is speaking of a yoke, the men listening to Him would be able to relate to how an ox struggles to plow the land with its yoke around its neck. Jesus tells us to take off the yoke that we put on ourselves, and take up His yoke. There are many burdens we carry on ourselves daily, especially during the Advent season. We have work stresses, end-of-year deadlines, family obligations and conflicts, Christmas parties and shopping, and general high stress during the Holiday’s. The burdens, worries and concerns we put on ourself is often the heaviest. The burden of His yoke is light and easy. And we will find rest. And what is His burden? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and to love others as you love yourself (Matt. 22:36-40).
Come Jesus, come. Remove the heavy yoke around my neck and allow me to put on your yoke. Carry the stress I have placed on myself and instead bring peace and joy into my life so that I may come and adore you on Christmas. Amen.