“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with Mine. Learn My ways and you’ll discover that I am gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in Me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear” (Matthew 11:28-30).
What a remarkable statement by Jesus! I feel I almost can’t write that out without catching my breath.
I’ve said it before, but I love studying through different translations of Scripture, as it’s almost like reading beloved passages for the very first time. The above selection is from The Passion Translation, and I must admit, it caught me off guard. Jesus is easy to please? What He requires of us is pleasant and easy to bear? The NIV, often my default, renders it this way: “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 in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Have you ever been weary? Not sleepy—but weary? Jesus doesn’t scold the weary for being weary. He doesn’t roll His eyes at us. He doesn’t secretly chuckle at our struggle. He doesn’t speak with a condescending, belittling tone. He says, “Come, My dear, dear child. Come to Me. Please.”
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus invites all who are weary to bring themselves to Him. Interestingly enough, this is the only time I can find in the Gospels where Jesus says to come to Him. Many times Jesus requires His followers to come after Him (an invitation to follow), but here it’s different. I can picture Jesus now, with laugh lines on His face, understanding in His eyes, and an authentic smile… leaning forward, with His arms outstretched as far as possible… arms outstretched to you.
The Scripture goes on to record that Jesus declares He will refresh us. Just stunning! When life is cruel, when our situation is unbearable, when justice feels distant, Jesus beckons us to escape with Him for a while. He is a perfect oasis. His wrap-around love hides us, and while we are nestled in His embrace, He saturates our being with strength and courage again. He recharges our batteries.
Then He welcomes us to take on His yoke. Now, a yoke is a wooden crosspiece that joins two animals to work as one. Based on the context of this statement, I’ll suggest that the metaphor Jesus chose to use is not to emphasize sweaty toiling, but to emphasize the union He wants to share with us. And as we live in union with Him, attached to Him in all things, we will then learn of His gentle and humble side (verse 29). Isn’t that glorious? The more completely fastened to Jesus we are, the fuller our revelation of Him becomes. We learn of Him as both powerful and calm, fierce yet gentle, sovereign and listening, supreme and affectionate.
The Passion Translation says that Jesus is “easy to please.” In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis quotes George MacDonald: “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.” He uses the example of a young dad watching his son learn to walk. The baby takes a few wobbly steps, and the dad is thrilled! What progress! What an accomplishment! However, as the baby grows into a man, the dad would naturally expect him to possess a “firm, free, manly walk” (page 202-203). Similarly, Jesus rejoices at our progress, our victories large and small, our ownership of mistakes. While He certainly empowers us for growth and confidence, He is also easy to please.
And in light of these profound truths, a disciple can finally grasp that being yoked with Jesus, living in union with Him, is pleasant—what an understatement!—and easy to bear, or light as the NIV puts it. How breathtakingly magnificent.
No one could sensibly argue that life with Jesus is always sunshine and roses, but somehow, it’s still always bliss. As I choose Jesus and ‘look full in His wonderful face’ even in light of difficulty, transition, persecution, loss, and uncertainty, I get caught up in the whirlwind of His love for me! Sometimes I can feel Him laughing joyfully with me when I’m ecstatic, and I can feel His warm smile on my skin. I am His precious, beloved son… and you are, too. God bless the weary.