What is weighing you down today? Perhaps it is health issues. Maybe you have financial worries, a lost job. Maybe you’re just tired, mentally, physically and spiritually. 

The Bible talks about the weight of all these things as burdens. The word can mean to carry something heavy for a long distance.

Jesus used “burden” to talk about workers in a vineyard “who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.” Vineyard work was commonplace during Jesus’ time. His listeners would have been familiar with what he meant by “burden.” Perhaps carrying baskets heavy with picked grapes. 

So, when Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” they would have been attentive.

Most of us are not knowledgeable with vineyard work. But, a similar word in the English language is the word “tote.”

“Tote” also means to carry something heavy or substantial. We are familiar with tote bags that enable us to do that. 

Occasionally, I have used a large tote bag to carry my belongings when I travel. One thing I’ve learned is that, when I’m traveling by air, it is physically exhausting, painful, and unwieldy to carry my luggage on my arm in a tote bag through the airport. 

If Jesus had said “come to me, all you who are weary of carrying your tote bag, and I will give you rest,” then I would have been right there, alert to his instructions!

Jesus spoke in the language of ordinary people because he wanted them to know that he fully understood their everyday lives, and it is the same for us today. 

When he spoke about burdens, Jesus also spoke figuratively about everything in life that weighs us down. 

“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” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Before we look at what Jesus expects us to do with our burdens, we must face a reality. Burdens were as commonplace back then as tote bags are today. Burdens are a fact of life whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual. No one is exempt from burdens. So, we don’t need to be ashamed of what gets us down. We don’t need to think our struggles are because we are doing something wrong. We shouldn’t wonder “why me.” 

Jesus didn’t say come to him and our burdens would disappear. He said come to me and discover my burden is light. 

With this, Jesus used another common example, that of a yoke. Although we might think that a yoke was placed on two animals, Bible commentaries say that a single yoke placed on the neck of one animal was more likely.

With a yoke on its neck, the animal had to submit to the instructions of his master. This image of servitude or subjugation may make us feel uncomfortable. But, Jesus gives us a different meaning of wearing a yoke.

Jesus doesn’t place the yoke on us, instead he invites us to come and take the yoke: Come to me…Take my yoke upon you.

Jesus invites us to be instructed by him: learn from me.

And if we have any fear of what that instruction might look like, Jesus assures us: for I am gentle and humble in heart…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

When we are weighed down, Jesus makes our burdens lighter. 

Of course, I realized that a roll-along bag is much easier to manage through an airport than a tote bag. I still have the same amount of items in my bag as I would have in a tote, but it’s so much easier to maneuver and I don’t get to the plane totally exhausted.

It’s the same idea when we go to Jesus with our burdens. They are still the same problems, but somehow they become easier. Perhaps time with Jesus enables us to go back to our tasks with renewed vigor. Perhaps knowing that Jesus is sovereign over all our situations gives us peace. Perhaps it’s knowing that Jesus will not allow us to be crushed under what we bear.

Life with Jesus doesn’t guarantee that our burdens will go away but we are promised a better way of dealing with them.

I wonder how today Jesus is reassuring you that life is easier with him than without him. Or, where do you need to come to Jesus, not for him to remove the burdens but to help you get through your day, to find energy, to instruct you so you can move forward?


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