Growing up, my value system was unknowingly ruled by 3 main things, 3 ways I managed life in order to know that I was OK.
Achievement. I was a hard worker, not for the sake of hard work or because I valued excellence really, but because I valued being thought well of. I was driven by reputation.
Relationship. I felt good about myself because of who my friends were. And I was a good and caring friend – sometimes at the expense of my own needs, and in spite of my better judgment. I was a good and caring friend so that people would like me. Because I needed them to be my friend, I needed them to like me.
Responsibility. As the oldest child in a broken home, I felt responsible for others, aware that the younger ones were watching, that I was expected to be a good influence. I was always aware of my responsibility. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see that I thought I could overcome the hurt and pain and unpredictability in our family for myself and my siblings, by the power of my own responsibility and reliability. When I went off to college and left this role, predictably I went a little wild.
This was my value system, my way of managing life and being OK: Reputation, Relationship and Responsibility (and I was much better at being responsible for others than I was for myself.) That is how I was OK in the world.
Then, halfway through college, I met Jesus. I fell head over heels in love with Him, He filled up empty spaces I didn’t even know I had.
For years, this is how I shared my story: Before Jesus, I found safety, security, LIFE in relationships & reputation. But then I met Jesus and learned to find safety, security, life in Him.
I had been a Christian and telling this story for over 10 years before I realized it was a lie.
Jesus WAS (and IS) my source of life. He gave His life for me and (more importantly) TO me, He gave Himself fully and freely and I am ALIVE.
But in many ways, all those things I did to find security and life?
Working hard to succeed and get it right? Sacrificing myself for relationship in healthy and unhealthy ways? Feeling responsible for everything and everyone?
I was still doing those things – I was just doing them for Jesus now. I was working hard FOR Him. I was still driven by reputation, it was just that now the reputation I wanted was that of “good Christian girl.” My trust in Jesus for my own and others’ lives never outweighed my own feeling of responsibility.
I had come to Jesus – and I was learning from Him. But I hadn’t really found rest.
I had come to Jesus and was learning from Him. But I was still living life out of the old ways, my same old “Yoke.”
It is easy to do that isn’t it? To believe Jesus, but keep living out of our old Scripts and patterns?
Do you relate?
If so, the truth is Matthew 11:28-30 is GOOD NEWS. There is a different yoke, Jesus’ yoke.
“Come to Me, (JESUS SAYS) all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11)
We step into Matthew’s story as Jesus is addressing the crowds. Earlier in Matthew 11, Jesus received messengers from His cousin John the Baptist, in prison and wondering if Jesus is indeed the Messiah (spoiler alert: He is).
Then Jesus denounces the cities where He performed miracles because they saw Him and did not recognize Him.
Those near Jesus, who saw Him perform miraculous healing did not all believe and respond to Him.
So Jesus breaks into prayer:
“I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
The wise and intelligent (religious leaders) couldn’t receive the things of God in the package of Jesus.
Here in Matthew, Jesus is saying, “If you can’t see who Father is in Me, then you can’t see the Father.”
When Jesus talks about knowing His Father, He’s not talking about book learning, a life of studying about the Father.
He came to “know His Father the way a son does: not by studying books about him, but by living in his presence, listening for his voice, and learning from him.” A son learns to be like his father by living in His father’s house, by growing up with him.
So as the Son, the One who best knows the Father’s heart, Jesus makes our invitation today.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The first thing we learn about the yoke of Jesus is that it is the yoke of SONSHIP. If I’m not functioning as one dearly beloved of the Father, then I’m not functioning out of the yoke of Jesus. And if our view of the Father doesn’t match up with love as demonstrated by Jesus, who said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”? Then we’re not functioning out of the yoke of Jesus.
I learned and am still learning to lay down the old yoke, my old ways of being OK in the world. And I am learning (slowly, day by day) to come to Jesus and let Him teach me the way of sonship, the way of the Beloved of the Father.
This is the way of rest. And it is good.