Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am unassuming and of humble disposition, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is comfortable, and my load is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30 (USC)
In Jesus, and in life, God calls us to suffer. But we only grow if we learn to suffer ‘gladly’ as Jesus did. Of course, Jesus didn’t suffer gladly! He hated suffering as much as we do. But he obediently endured what he — in his sinless state — had to endure to fulfil his mission. That’s a clue for us in our suffering; endure it to fulfil our mission.
Indeed, life can only seem to make sense — when we are suffering — from the position of taking gladly the sufferings God would so blessedly send our way.
The Western rationalism, however, wants the ‘blessed’ life; the life of ease and of its own joy. But the blessedness of God is the antithesis of this. Its own direct opposite. The Western rationalism is into, in Bonhoeffer’s words, cheap grace.
The meaning of life: when suffering comes, suffer gladly that which God knows you can endure — in him. And even if we can’t endure today, rest. It will be better in the morrow.
We learn nothing for the equipping for the future spoils of anguish if we don’t bear under the weight of this now.
Jesus’ yoke is easy when we trust Him with all our heart. Jesus’ burden is light when we willingly release our burdens upon Him who, alone, can bear them.
The abundant life is not an easy life. Life in all its fullness is not without its burden. But we are blessed to have a burden-carrier: our Saviour and Lord Jesus — King over all creation. And Jesus’ yoke is easier than straining under the world’s yoke of numbing oppression.
Jesus gives us entry into life in all its fullness, which is a life replete with reality.
And whilst reality may seem to be a cruel taskmaster at times, we have a friend in Jesus for our aloneness when we look alone to him in our suffering.
Jesus bids us, “Come to me... learn from me.” What else could he mean when his life was most a requiem of suffering? “‘Learn from me,’ how to endure under the onerous excruciation of your cross, for I’ve borne mine.” “‘Come to me,’ when people say all kinds of wicked things about you... and you will find rest.”
Jesus’ yoke is only comfortable when we allow it to sit over our neck without fidgeting. Jesus’ load is light only when we submit ours for his.
You, who have nothing to lose, could do much worse than to give Jesus your fullest commitment.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.