Day 12: Genesis 29-30; Matthew 11

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Who believes in coincidences? Not I! Today is the last day of our District Pastor's Prayer Retreat. Our theme has been: "Learn the Unforced Rhythms of Grace." Yes, it is taken directly from The Message. For any of you who memorized this passage in a regular translation, you can picture Jesus saying, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy, my burden is light."

Everyone who heard Jesus knew that yokes have two applications. The first is obvious: oxen were yoked together to till the rocky fields. The yoke was specifically designed for the team so that the work wash shared and the power evenly distributed, so everything got done optimally. That's an easy yoke, the perfectly fitting one. And, we are yoked to Jesus...think about that.

When boys were bar-mitzvahed, they were said to bind the yoke of the Torah to themselves. Everyone knew that the best of the best, those from the right family line, or from the most money and influence with the best education, might be invited to become the disciple of a great rabbi. This select few were invited to take up the yoke of the rabbi, who really believed it was the yoke of Torah. Jesus tells us the yoke they asked people to bear was heaped up on them like camel cargo and then they did not lift a finger to help them under their unbearable burden (Matthew 23:4). Of course, there were good rabbis, but Jesus was talking about those who abused their power under the guise of being religious.

Jesus' invitation to come and rest was for anyone and everyone who was worn out under the burden of a legalistic religion that only condemned and always left one with guilt and shame. No one could attain to its standards, not even the ones who claimed to do so. In Jesus, you will find rest and shalom, for His burden starts with grace, and the journey of grace is 'walking with Him.' Never alone, always with His Help (the Holy Spirit making this possible), with His law which is love, the burden is not unbearable, indeed, it is light, for we are walking in the unforced rhythms of grace with Jesus. Come, take His hand and walk with Rest in His presence and let Him live in and through you!

P.S. If I were reflecting on the Old Testament reading, I would have asked: How would you like to be named Praise? See Genesis seems a fitting name for one who has been invited to walk with, be a disciple of, the Rabbi of rabbis!
Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash.

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