Reflection on Matthew 11: 16-30

14 Jul 2017

Have you ever felt that life seems to be an endless cycle of chores and problems and burdens?


Of course life will always include work and worries and St Paul told us there is a positive side to that.  He said the challenges of life help to build our character and make us strong.  Whatever our thoughts on that, there will be times when we experience problems or want to make changes in our life.  Sometimes that is straight forward.  Then there are the times when we feel weighed down with burdens that seem insurmountable.  So we need to consider why.


Jesus says we can be free of much of the burden of cares that we carry.  He says they are often more to do with the fear of not fitting in than with what we really believe.  One of the most common reasons people give for not following Christ is that it would cramp their style and deny them any freedom.


Jesus tells us the opposite is true.  He says our suffering is often the result of being yoked to the world's standards and expectations.  He says following him will set us free from those.  He reminds us that the world's standards are changeable and inconsistent.  He also suggests that we are too.


But he says never mind that, come to him anyway.  Come as you are, with your contrary character traits, negative attitudes and self destructive actions.  He says I know you can be outwardly contrary and maybe living with inner conflicts but come anyway.


We can never be good enough but it doesn't preclude us from God's love or Jesus' redeeming grace.  He knows that much of our problems and pain is self-inflicted, caused by our own beliefs or attitude or actions.  Jesus invites us to come to Him because He is the only one who can help us out of that.


Jesus invites us to come with an open mind.  There is none so blind as those who would not see.  We so often create our own difficulties because we can't or won't see or hear beyond our own limited understanding.  Narrow mindedness and a will to find fault will always lead to a negative experience of life.


Have you ever noticed how very young children view the world?  How they respond to situations?  They are keen to grow and not just in stature.  They have no hang-ups or preconceived ideas to stunt their growth.  They trust their parents completely to keep them safe and make everything okay.


Well that's the kind of trust Jesus invites us to have in Him.  He invites us to have an open mind to the possibilities of life with Him.  He says only He can offer us true joy, contentment and spiritual freedom.  But it requires listening and humility.  More than once in Scripture Jesus talks of the gospel message being hidden from the learned or elite.  He is referring to the puffed up pride, self-important arrogance and hypocrisy that prohibit those folk from the life giving freedom he offers.


The world we live in today is marked by indifference and sometimes contempt for the things of heaven.  Humility is not a strong character trait.  It is not unlike the picture Jesus painted of the folk around Him.  Our challenge is not to become influence by the world around us or tempted by the wrong invitations.


God had given the Jewish people laws to guide them through the moral traps of life.  But they interpreted and practiced their own versions of them.  They became trapped by their own take on the Jewish law.  They were blinded to the spiritual freedom offered to them in Christ.  Jesus says don't bind yourself to laws, but join yourself to Him because His yoke is easy.  He says he will share your burdens and show you the way.  His yoke is of love rather than duty.  This is a wonderful invitation for us when we are weary with cares - or burdened with difficult decisions.


Don't rely on the standards of our time, consider what Jesus would do.  Judge yourself and the situations you are faced with by His standards.  Treat people as He would do.  Make Him our role model for responding to problems and making decisions.  It is the response of the liberated, not the duty of the obliged.


Jesus says come to me and find rest.  Jesus is aware of our needs as keenly now as he was when he walked upon this earth.  It can be hard work trying to keep up with the expectations of a fast changing world.  There is so much pressure to conform.


Are you challenged by society's changes in morality; or burdened by the growing divide between rich and poor in our society; grieved because of a relationship or frightened because of a personal problem?  You are invited to take these worries to Jesus.  Unburden yourself and trust the future to Him.


Jesus said yoke yourself to me.  Live your life alongside me so I can guide you.  Take your problems to me so I can relieve you of the pressure.  Depend on me for company and care so I can be your companion and friend.  Trust me, I will carry your burden with you and you will never be overwhelmed.


He gives us freedom from the expectations of the modern world.  Free from inaccurate interpretations of His word.  Free to choose what is right, which may be out of kilter with the world's choices or standards.


Jesus is the best counsellor in the world.  He doesn't solve our problems or try to change who we are.  He liberates the person we are meant to be.  The person who will only feel whole when yoked to Him.  When we ground ourselves in Him and His word thoroughly our Christian actions become like reflex actions.  Paul Brand, a Christian doctor said "The closer we get to walking the Christian path the less we have to think about each individual step."


Jesus invites us to see that we often live with frustrations, disappointments and disillusionment of our own making.  He says give it up, adopt His lifestyle and start to really live.  That invitation is for all of us.  Join forces with Jesus.  Reject anything that gets in the way.  Only He can bring the joy of God's kingdom into our needy world.  His yoke is not a duty of rituals; His load is but a sharing of His love!


So rejoice in His presence, reflect on his Word and pour out your heart to Him.  Pour out your problems, pour out your pain and most of all pour out your praise to him!  Then experience the power of His Holy Spirit in your life and know the freedom only He can give.


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St Martin's Parish Church, 4 Magdalene Drive, Edinburgh EH15 3DB

Serving the community of Magdalene, Bingham, Duddingston, The Jewel and surrounding areas.   A congregation of the Church of Scotland: Scottish Charity Number: SCO13918

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