I can remember when my boys were younger, I would be working on a task or job and they would sometimes come along with me. On some of those occasions, they would want to help out. Now, depending on their age, the amount that they were able to do was limited. However, I enjoyed spending time with them and wanted them to feel like they were helping out. So, if we were moving a table or something like that, they would help carry it. However, I would position myself towards the middle of the table, so that I was carrying the majority of the weight while they helped and “carried” their end of the table.
In many ways, I think this provides a good picture of living the life of worship. In Matthew 11:25-30, Jesus offers us an invitation. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is the invitation to come and follow Him and to live a life of worship. But it is unlike any invitation offered by the world and by other religions.
The wisdom of God is revealed to the child at heart. In Matthew 11:25-26, Jesus says that the Father has hidden things from those who think they are wise and important, and He has revealed them to little children. In another passage, Jesus says that unless we become like a child, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-4). I believe this says that God reveals Himself to those who know that they need Him. To those who are self-sufficient and confident in themselves, God hides His wisdom from them. God wisdom is provided for those that come as a child.
Religion is a heavy load to bear. Jesus does not offer us religion. Jesus does not invite us to come and prove ourselves to Him. But for most who are involved in religious activities, it is a labor of proving their worth or earning the favor of whatever god or system they are following. Even many people who call themselves Christians live their lives this way. It is often perpetuated by leaders and organizations who pile up burdens on people, telling them that they have to live a certain way to earn God’s favor and get into heaven. They create their own systems of righteousness that have nothing to do with God’s Word. This is what the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did, and this was the load that the people were trying to carry in order to please God.
Jesus offers rest for the weary. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and Prophets, not to abolish them (Matthew 5:17-18). But the burden that was being piled on the people was beyond the Law of God. It was a system of manmade rules and laws. Jesus is offering freedom from that heavy burden. He is saying to take His yoke and follow Him. It is a simple call to follow Jesus and live a life of commitment to Him. It is about loving God with all that we are, and allowing Him to work in us to change us and transform us to be more like Christ. We don’t have to prove anything. In fact, we can’t. We just have to follow. This is the yoke of Jesus.
Jesus carries the load. The reason His burden is light is because Jesus has born the full weight of God’s requirement Himself. He has lived up to the standard of holiness required of us. He has taken upon Himself the full penalty of the wrath of God against our sins, failings, and the consequences of sin in this fallen world. Jesus has paid the complete price so that we can receive His righteousness and be declared holy before God (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is the gift of God for all who will receive it and for all who will give themselves to Jesus.
This does not mean that the road will be easy. There are going to be many trials and challenges along the way. As in the story I shared at the beginning, when my boys would help carry that table, they were working hard, huffing and puffing as they worked. They would be tired afterwards and would occasionally get a pinched finger or scraped knee. But I was always there to meet their needs and they were actually carrying very little of the actual burden during the work. I was carrying most of the load, but they had fun “helping Dad.”
The life of worship is the invitation to come and follow Jesus and to delight in Him. Life can be hard. It can be really hard. But we can have joy in Christ, as we delight in Him and in doing His will. And we can be confident that, as we walk with Him, He has put Himself in the middle of the table and has carried the heavy load.
Together for His glory…