Jesus instructs would-be disciples to lay down the burden of lesser obligations and get in the boat with him (Mt. 8:18-22). He instructs the Twelve to travel light and to divest themselves of the burden of fear as they go out to spread his message (Mt. 10:5-32). He encourages the religious leaders to lay down the burden of Sabbath healing laws to allow a man with a withered hand to find wholeness (Mt. 12:9-14).

To be told we can lay down our burdens sounds so sweet, until we realize that, in Jesus' eyes, many things we view as blessings are actually burdens. These would include, both in his time and ours, judging others, viewing oneself as occupying a superior position to others and entitled to a more comfortable life with more material possessions, and making a vocation of excluding and avoiding the unclean and the sinner, those on the bottom rung of the social ladder. To those who view those things as their birthright and most cherished possessions, to be required to divest oneself of them sounds like sacrifice. And it is. But it is on the way to a life of being forgiven, being refreshed, and being empowered to live with the humility, discernment, courage, and compassion that is the essence of Wisdom.

Wisdom in Person, the real deal, stands before us in Matthew 11:16. His "deeds" include healing, feeding, exorcizing, forgiving, and teaching us the Way. The question is, will we choose to participate in them? Will we allow Wisdom to be vindicated by her deeds as they show up in our lives?

Wisdom in Person, the real deal, stands before us in Matthew 11:28-30. He challenges us to lay down our burdens to participate in his blessings. The question is, will we sacrifice the burdens to make way for the blessings?

The gospel song says it well . . .

Lay your burden down
Lay your burden down
O won't you lay . . .
Your burden down
At the feet
The feet of Jesus
O won't you lay . . .
Your burden down

To you who walk
Along the road
And struggle with
Your heavy load
Still Jesus calls
You in your plight
To come to Him
His load is light.

Sources Consulted:

Alyce M. McKenzie, Preaching Biblical Wisdom in a Self Help Society (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002)

David Hill, New Century Bible Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981)