Are you listening to me? Really listening? “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a boozer, a friend of the misfits. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” (Matthew 11:16-19) MSG
Next Jesus unleashed on the cities where he had worked the hardest, but whose people had responded the least, shrugging their shoulders and going their own way. “Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you. And Capernaum! With all your peacock strutting, you are going to end up in the abyss. If the people of Sodom had had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.” (Matthew 11:20-24) MSG
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work. (Matthew 11:25-26) MSG
I have also learned from Matthew, chapters 4-10, the context for what Jesus was talking about in Matthew, chapter 11, that led to his invitation in 11:28-30. All that Jesus did and taught, and the increasing resentment of the religious leaders, helps me understand and welcome Jesus’s invitation to be, “yoked” together WITH him, learning the, “unforced rhythms of grace” in my everyday life.
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. The is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of the Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. (Matthew 11:27) MSG
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30) MSG
In April 2005, I had the privilege of being the main speaker for our South Fellowship Women’s retreat, and I spoke on Matthew 11:28-30, using the more familiar “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
As the term “yoke” is unfamiliar to most of us, I researched and learned:
- Yokes are intended to hold a pair of animals side by side in order to make it easier to pull something than it is possible for one animal to do.
- As each side of the yoke is custom made for the animal that wears it, the yoke cannot be worn by any other animal without causing pain to that animal.
- Young calves are paired and trained to work together as they grow. By the time they are full grown, they will have had up to 15 custom made yokes created for them.
I am still learning, sometimes through the consequences of trying to overload my days, or by making decisions without waiting to hear Jesus say to me, ‘Yes’ ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ before he and I move together. Sometimes he simply tells me to “stop, sit and listen” to him conversing with his Father in Matthew 11:25-26, and John 17, and to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-17. These are some of the scriptures that I take rest in.
Take some time to read for yourself Matthew 25-30. Sit and listen as Jesus tells you tenderly that he longs to live “the unforced rhythms of grace” in your everyday life WITH him.