“Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We may expect Jesus to say: Stop. Breathe. Come away by yourselves.[i] Yet in this passage, Jesus says: “I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.”
The yoke is an object of work, keeping two animals together to share strength. Jesus is saying: Work with me. Learn from me. Restoration comes from working my way.[ii] This way, this rhythm of life, will bring you more fully to life.
Jesus’ way, his personal pattern, includes private prayer and ceasing with Sabbath rest. Jesus’ way is also in his teaching.
Much more than a momentary pause, Jesus offers personal relationship and a way to live with peace and freedom.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message: “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.”
Times of retreat both give rest right now and help us remember, rekindle how to live well day by day. Reclaim wonder and gratitude. Be honest and vulnerable in our prayer. Remember Jesus’ teaching. Be silent and listen. Return to company with Jesus who is gentle and loving. Here is real rest: walking, working, living in rhythm with Jesus.
[ii]Frederick Dale Bruner (1987) Matthew: A Commentary, Volume I. Dallas: Word Publishing, p438.
[iii]Matthew 5: 3, 5, 7
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