Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Labor Day

Matthew 11:28-29

Joseph Daniel (Sunil)

Colorado Horeb MTC

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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.

Per Wikpedia - In the United States, Labor Day is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September, which is also same day that the equivalent holiday is celebrated in Canada as Labour Day. It started as a celebration of the labor movement and dedicated to their social and economic achievements. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. The labor movement has changed considerably over the years and no longer has the same significance or reverence due to much political and socio-economic debate. Labor Day also considered the unofficial end of the summer and start of the academic year for many schools and colleges across North America. It can be perceived as a turning point on the calendar just prior to the change of seasons, the indication of fewer hours of daylight in the days ahead until next year’s spring.

Matthew 11:28-29 above does not specifically address the work we have done or do today to make a living. However it does refer to the concept of the yoke. According to the Life Application Study Bible (NIV) postscript on this verse - A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull. This enables the oxen to pull tremendous amounts of physical weight according to the purpose they are employed. It goes on to say, A person may be carrying heavy burdens of (1) Sin, (2) excessive demands of religious leaders , (3) oppression and persecution, (4) weariness in the search of God.

When examining the burdens of life there are obviously a multitude of sins we as people struggle with both publicly and privately, and we should know by now that God sees both and treats them the same. In regards to the demands of religious leaders, Jesus warned the crowds and his disciples about the Pharisees later in Matthew 23:4 saying “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them”. Peter addressed this in front of the council of Jerusalem responding to the Pharisees who were steadfast in requiring the strict adherence of the Gentiles to obey the law of Moses saying in Acts 15:10 “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear”.

To continue, the idea of oppression and prosecution is not as evident for those living in the Western world, regardless as how we may perceive a societal trend toward secularism and a vocal backlash from a loud minority of non-religious groups representing corporate, governmental, and non-profit interests seeming to defend more the Freedom FROM religion rather than the Freedom OF Religion. However, the idea of being weary in the search of God can be clearly seen in these times as a burden given the events thus far in our century with terrorism, war, disease, famine, economic inequality, corruption, immorality, and general lack of humanity amongst people in many countries whether through religious, political, social, or corporate influences or lack thereof in many cases. The cumulative effect of the tragedies and atrocities we witness across the world on a daily basis can break down our spirit and question the very existence of our God being present in our lives today.

It is evident that we often create or place upon ourselves many of the burdens that become the figurative yoke on our daily lives, whether we do it knowingly, unknowingly, or don’t consider the long term view over short term gain.  Also, our perceptions of the requests, suggestions, or advice from others whether in our workplace, home, church, or amongst family and friends should be evaluated if we constantly think of these things as burdens that weigh us down or cause us worry on a regular basis. In Matthew 11:30 Jesus continued on our theme verse to give words of comfort in saying “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Jesus is not giving us more than he thinks we can handle, and challenges us to change our perceptions of the burdens we face. In a devotional noted in the Men’s Devotional Bible (NIV) regarding Matthew 11:28-30, renowned historical theologian and pastor during the Nazi Germany era Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that:   If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. He goes on not to say, Jesus asks nothing of us without giving us the strength to perform it.

Prayer: Father God – Help us to understand and manage the yoke you give us to handle the burdens of the life you have given, and use the tools you provide to ease those burdens by submitting them back to you. Let us not rely on our own misunderstandings, fears, misgivings, or negative influences that seek to add to our load. Let our labor not be in vain, let it be in your spirit, and for your purpose to provide for our families, churches, and communities trusting in what you would want for us, not what we think we or others want or need. Help us to give you the control to lead us in the right path, and understand the reasons to pursue that direction. Amen

Thought for the dayJesus frees his people from all their burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end to all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose. (Life Application Bible-Mat.11:28-30)

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