Stew on This: Stew on This: Rest in Jesus to Have a Better New Year
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
Jesus gives an invitation to those who are “weary and burdened.” The “weary” are those who are worn out by their own doing. It is an “active” word which indicates that your efforts and your labors have exhausted you. “Burdened” is a passive term. It means to place a burden upon or a heavy load. It is not your doing that is wearing you out; it is what is laid on you by others or by the circumstances of life. Way back when I was in college, I worked for a while for a commercial roofer – putting on hot tar roofs. We had to get the equipment and materials up on the roof. My first day it was my job to carry the 50 pound rolls of tar paper up the ladder. I saw one of the others guys who was accustomed to this, put one on each shoulder and walk up the ladder. I tried. What a load! It was a heavy “burden” and at first I couldn’t carry two rolls, keep my balance, and climb the ladder. At the end of the day I was tired, my legs ached, and I just wanted to sit down. That’s the picture of this word “burdened.” Being burdened looks like a load seemingly too heavy to carry is laid on you and it wears you out trying to handle it.
Specifically, Jesus was speaking about the load of requirement and expectation laid on the people by the religious leaders. They said, “Do this, don’t do this, here’s the list. It’s long and you never know for sure when you might be violating it, so you never know if God is going to accept you, but keep trying, don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t let down, keep working for God’s approval.” And that’s a load that will wear you out. Jesus says, “religion isn’t the way to God.” By your doing only you get weary, trying to live up to the expectations of your religious leaders is simply a burden too heavy.
“Come to me” Jesus says. He doesn’t mean the doing of religion, but a relationship with Him. In this invitation is a life principle we would all do well to grasp. We exhaust our bodies and our souls when we are on the treadmill of ceaseless activity and when we try to live up to the expectations of others trying to secure their approval. The very “load of life” can wear us out so we live “trying to get through another day” instead of enjoying the life God intends for us. Jesus tells us how to remedy our worn out, distressed, over stressed, easily irritable, burned out, can’t do enough, can’t be enough, lives.
Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Here’s what you’ve got to see in Jesus’ invitation. He is not offering simply a cessation of activity. That is good and is truly needed at times, but there is more. This “rest” we need comes not just from stopping, but from being with Jesus, from communion with Him in quiet moments and quiet places of our lives.