Blessed… Lightening the Load

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness. “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:25-30, Common English Bible).

The Pharisees, Saducees and the experts in the law had done a good job of taking what was already a difficult system and made it worse. We already have talked about fasting. The fasting requirement in the law was to fast one day a year, on the Day of Atonement, or as we more likely know it, Yom Kippur. Somehow the Pharisees and their cohorts had expanded the tradition form a day a year to a day a week.

Fasting is a good example of the legal system in Israel during Jesus’ earthly life. Many things were considerably more difficult because these experts in the law were all about enforcing the letter of the law that was completely impossible for anyone (other than Jesus himself, and he wasn’t interested) to follow.

Trying to live by the law was exhausting and it gave very little room for any kind of life. In our lesson today Jesus wasn’t really talking about the physical burden most people carried in his day. That wouldn’t change for most people. Whatever your job was, you still had to carry through with it in order to provide for your family.

Think about a Biblical era person like “The Woman at the Well.” She was understanding Jesus’ offer of “Living Water” to be physical water instead of a spiritual gift. She was tired of hauling water and who can blame her. I remember as a kid on Scout camp outs having to haul some water. It wasn’t as much and it certainly didn’t involve a daily task for my whole life, but it was enough that I have no trouble seeing that someone would want Jesus to lighten their load. Still, when all was said and done, if hauling water for the household was your task, even after meeting Jesus, even after accepting Jesus, in the end you would still finding yourself hauling water or going thirsty.

The physical load wouldn’t go away. Jesus was talking about the spiritual load that so many struggled under. The Pharisees, Sadducees and experts in the law burdened people with trying to do the impossible. And, as we know, they would never earn God’s favor because they would always fall short.

What they needed was something else and Jesus was offering it to them in today’s lesson. Jesus was saying, you don’t have to be burdened by trying to do the impossible. Come to me and I will give rest to your weary soul.

There is a word for that. The word is grace. Jesus was offering something the people didn’t deserve, couldn’t earn but was what they desperately needed. This easy yoke Jesus offered was grace.

Jesus offers the same thing to us today. We may get burdened in different ways. Still, we need rest for our souls. Jesus offers us rest and that is one of the places you and I can find grace, in the yoke of Jesus Christ. His easy burden lightens our heavy load.

How has Jesus offered you rest for your weary soul?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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