THE LORD CARES FOR YOU
Having in mind some of my beloved brothers in Christ, and from my own personal experience when my beloved wife suffered unbearable sickness, pain and facial paralysis, I was just asking God to heal, console and comfort them. As I was meditating from the Scriptures my eyes fell on Matthew 11: 28-30 - very familiar verses that we all think we know. However, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see something new that I never knew before. I am writing to all those who are suffering and undergoing a painful time in their lives. As you read with me prayerfully, it is my prayer that the Lord will bring healing and strength to your body, mind, and soul that you may prosper in all that God has given you.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30 KJV).
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” This phrase in the new covenant implies simply, believing in Christ and becoming His disciple or follower. The metaphor appears to be taken from a man who has a great load laid upon him, which he must carry to a certain place; every step he takes reduces his strength, and renders his load more oppressive. However, it must be carried on; and he labours, uses his utmost exertions, to reach the place where it is to be laid down. A kind person passing by, and seeing his distress, offers to ease him of his load, that he may enjoy rest.
The Jews, who were heavily laden with the burdensome rites of the Mosaic institution, rendered still more oppressive by the additions made by the scribes and Pharisees (Mattt. 23:4), and who were labouring to make themselves pleasing to God by observance of the law, are invited here to lay down their load, and receive the salvation procured for them by Christ.
Let us explore the reasons for the burdening of the soul. Everyone in this world is burdened by something, irrespective of which religious background he/she comes from, whether rich or poor, strong or weak. According to the Scriptures there are four reasons for the burdening of the soul:
1. The soul is burdened due to sin. Sin is a big burden to humanity because of the separation that sin has put between God and man.
2. The soul is burdened due to excessive demands of religion or religious leaders (Matt. 23:4; Acts 15:10).
3. The soul is burdened due to oppression and persecution.
4. The soul is burdened due to weariness in the search for God.
Let us look closely at these verses to see what Jesus tells us about getting free from the burden of our soul and finding rest in Him.
Come To Jesus
Jesus is giving an invitation to come to Him as a divine prescription for curing our illness by the pardon of sin through our Lord’s sacrifice, and granting us the greatest peace by sanctifying us for His service. Believers do not think of coming to Jesus Christ in everything that we do because we think we are already Christians and He knows all our problems. We think we can handle it. In other words, we tell Him what to do and what not to do (we use Him like a Magician). There is no doubt that He understands our every problem. But we should understand that Jesus expects us to come to Him for every little problem. Unless we tell Him our problem, He has to just watch us suffer. It makes Him helpless until we call and ask for His help. A child always runs to the father to let him know even the slightest things. Let us try to train ourselves to have a childlike faith and character to run to God for our every need and problem.
Take His Yoke
This is a figure taken from the use of oxen signifying labouring in the service of anyone. This is a strange paradox that a man already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him in order to be eased and to find rest! To understand what He means, let us explore the meaning of ‘yoke.’ It means ‘burden,’ ‘bond,’ ‘enslave,’ etc. But according to this Scripture, it refers to control, to the weight of a yoke of our own making. 1Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). These verses refer to the burden of our own making. But this advice is similar to the one in Psalm 55:22, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee.” That is, “Entrust your soul and concerns to Him, and He will carry both you and your load.” We should be able to tell the Lord that the burden of the yoke of our making is heavy and ask Him therefore to take our yoke/burden and to give us His yoke and take control. His yoke is lighter, and when He takes control, all our anxiety and slavery to the future will be gone and we will be made light because He cares for us. The yoke is used in the Bible as an emblem of:
1. bondage or slavery. Lev. 26:13
2. afflictions or crosses. Lam. 3:27.
3. the punishment of sin. Lam. 1:14.
4. the commandments of God.
5. legal ceremonies. Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1.
It refers to the religion of the Redeemer, and means that they should embrace His system of religion and obey Him. All virtue and all religion imply restraint - the restraint of our bad passions and inclinations - and subjection to laws. The Saviour means to say here that the restraints and laws of His religion are mild, gentle and easy. Let anyone compare them with the burdensome and expensive ceremonies of the Jews (Acts 15:10), with the religious rites of the heathen everywhere, or with the requirements of the Popish system, and he will see how true it is that His yoke is easy. And let His laws and requirements be compared with the laws which sin imposes on its votaries-the laws of fashion, honour and sensuality-and one will feel that religion is ‘freedom.’ “He is a freeman whom the truth maketh free, and all are slaves beside” (Jn. 8: 36). It is easier to be a Christian than a sinner; and of all the yokes ever imposed on men, that of the Redeemer is the lightest.
The Greek word ‘aval’ which is translated as ‘yoke’ signifies to the Jews not only the neck-harness by which bullocks draw carts or the plough, but also any kind of bond or obligation to do some particular thing or work. It is applied to the following things:
1. The yoke of the kingdom of heaven - obedience to the revealed will of God.
2. The yoke of the law - the necessity of obeying all the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic institution.
3. The yoke of the precept - the necessity of performing any particular obligation by which any person has bound himself.
4. The yoke of repentance - without which one cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. With the Jews, repentance not only implied forsaking sin, but also fasting and mortification.
5. The yoke of faith - the necessity of believing in the promised Messiah.
6. The divine yoke - the obligation to live a spiritual life, a life of thanksgiving and gratitude unto God.
CHRIST’S yoke means the obligation to receive Him as the Messiah, to believe His doctrine, and to be, in all things, conformed to His Word and to His Spirit.
Learn of Him
Often we think that we have learnt much from our Christian experience, we are mature enough due to our age, or that we know much because we have been attending church for quite a long time. But learning does not happen like that. Here Jesus Himself highlights that we must learn of Him. Mark 10: 14,15 says, “When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth. Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” Jesus was often criticised for spending too much time with the wrong people - like children, tax collectors, and sinners (Matt. 9:11; Lk. 15:1,2; 19:7). Some including the disciples thought Jesus should be spending more time with important leaders and the devout, because this was the way to improve His position and avoid criticism. But Jesus did not need to improve His position. He was God and He wanted to speak to those who needed Him the most. Jesus meant that adults were not as trusting as little children. To feel secure, all that children need is a loving look and gentle touch from someone who cares. They do not require complete intellectual understanding. They believe us, if they trust us. Jesus said people should believe in Him with this kind of childlike faith. We need not understand all the mysteries of the universe; it should be enough to know that God loves us and provides forgiveness for our sin. This does not mean that we should be childish or immature, but we should trust God with a child’s simplicity and receptivity. We should learn to be good at heart, learning to forgive and forget. In other words, we should learn to be like Jesus. Paul said, “Let this mind of be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2: 5). He also said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...” (Gal. 2: 20) When Christ lives in us and when we live for Him, we can always live a life pleasing Him in spite of the situations or problems that we are facing.
Commit Your Soul To God
A lot of importance is given in the Bible to the soul of man. Human mind and soul are directly connected, and that has a direct impact on our Christian life. That is why Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10: 28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We should learn to allow God to take full control of body and soul, so that Satan cannot harm our souls or take away eternal life from us (Jn.10: 28, 29). 1 Peter 5: 6-9 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” We often worry about our position, our sickness and status, hoping to get proper recognition for what we do. But Peter advises us to remember that God’s recognition counts more and God is able to bless and heal according to His timing. Humbly obey God regardless of circumstances and in His good time - either in this life or in the next – He will lift you up. Carrying your worries, stresses and daily struggles by yourself shows that you have not trusted God fully with your life. It takes humility, however, to recognise that God cares, to admit your need, and to let others in God’s family help you and pray for you. Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God’s concern. But when we turn to God in repentance, He will bear the weight even of those struggles. Letting God have your anxieties calls for action, not passivity. Don’t submit to circumstances, but to the Lord who controls the circumstances. The Psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa.139: 23-24). All believers should ask God to search the heart and the thoughts every now and then, because our soul tends to forget God and His ways. That is why the Psalmist also says, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Psa. 103:1).
The poor and needy, the weary and heavy laden, and the soul sick of sin and the world, conscious of guilt, and afraid to die, may come to Jesus Christ, and live. The child and the old man may seek and find salvation at the feet of the same Saviour. No age is too young; no sinner is too old. Christ is full of mercy, and all who come shall find peace. Oh! How should we, in this sinful and miserable world, borne down with sin, and exposed each moment to death, come and find the peace which He has promised to all! Take the yoke which all have found to be light. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Pro. 16: 3).