Lay Your Burden Down: Reflections on Matthew 11:28-30

Taking on Jesus' yoke also means laying down certain burdens that are no longer necessary for us to carry. They interfere with our focus on love of God and neighbor and acts of justice and mercy. They may be the weight of guilt, perfectionism, regret, or unresolved grief. They may be the weight of allegiances and addictions we need to leave by the wayside. Jesus is offering to lift these from our shoulders, to comfort us in our mourning (Mt. 5:4), and to forgive our sins (Lk. 6:21b). Being yoked with Jesus is the end of pulling unnecessary burdens and of pulling necessary burdens by ourselves. In a life of purpose yoked to him, we are never left to our own devices, never overwhelmed by the weight of work, loss, or sorrow. We are freed of unnecessary burdens to pursue lives of mercy, justice, and love of God and neighbor.

When, in Matthew 11:28, Jesus says "learn from me," (apo eme) it could also be rendered "learn about me." (Witherington, 368) The yoke is both his instruction and his person. We have not only a purpose but also a helping presence, not only a well-defined and challenging task but also a Teacher to whom we are yoked in pulling the legitimate burdens of the life of discipleship.

When we grasp this truth, we understand something of what would move a people, even in a time of intense suffering, to sing "Glory glory, hallelujah, since I lay my burden down!"

6/29/2014 4:00:00 AM
  • Preachers
  • Progressive Christian
  • Edgy Exegesis
  • Progressive Christianity
  • Sacred Texts
  • Christianity
  • Alyce McKenzie
    About Alyce McKenzie
    Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.