The end of our Gospel is probably a familiar verse to us- “Come to me, all you who are labor and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Don’t we all want to experience that rest? Well, in order to learn how to find that rest, we need to understand the 1st part of the Gospel. The first part of our Gospel is a prayer of Jesus to God the Father, and the second part is Jesus’ invitation to each of us. So to experience that rest, we need to understand and appreciate the context of and Jesus’ prayer to the Father.
Jesus begins the prayer by thanking and praising the Father- but why and for what might surprise you. In the preceding verses of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus had just finished admonishing the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida- Galilean cities in which Jesus had worked many miracles and mighty acts of God, but yet they did not believe or repent of their sins. We know that Jesus came to reveal the power and love of the Father, but these people disregarded the revelation and teachings of Jesus. These people had rejected Jesus and would not repent. Can you imagine how heartbroken Jesus must have felt- the very purpose for His coming, the deepest longing of His heart- these people rejected? Have you ever felt that heartbroken, ever been that rejected? If so, can you remember how you coped with the heartache and grief?
Prayer is how Jesus dealt with his heartache, he gave his concern back to God the Father. In this prayer, Jesus is thanking God that he has hid the truth from the proud but has revealed it to the humble- to those who are like children. Then Jesus says, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him”. Who is Jesus- he is the Divine Son of God. Before Jesus became human, before the creation of the world, from all eternity Jesus is the Divine Son of God. Jesus is more than an earthly Messiah or Savior who saved his people, but from the beginning, in His essence, He is Son. Similarly, to all the prophets of the Old Testament, God is the all-powerful creator and just judge. However, only Jesus knows that God is more than creator and judge, but in His essence- He is loving Father. And Jesus came to reveal the truth of who God is- in His essence- he came to reveal the Father and His love. Therefore, for us, the Trinity- the mystery of Who God is in His essence- and thus who we are as His adopted children- is something that is revealed and not so much taught. A parent reveals their love not just by telling it to their child, but by revealing it to them throughout the many occasions and difficulties in a child’s life- and no matter how they act- parents continue to love them. For often it is when a child makes bad choices and then reconcile with the parents, does the children really learn how they are loved. Thus also, being a child of God isn't so much a knowledge that we learn or is told to us, but the truth has to be revealed for it to be known deep down in our hearts. If you have been taught or heard you are a beloved child of God, but you don't know what that means, or how that impacts your life, then ask for that revelation.
That we are an adopted son and daughter of God is not something that is earned, not dependent on what we do or don’t do, but is simply a truth because that is who God is. In His essence, God is a Father who loves his children- no matter what. Even when we make bad choices and turn away from Him. There is nothing we can do that will make God love us less- nothing! Again, that is something you hopefully have been told, but until we experience it deep down- it is easy for us to not really accept that truth or know it for ourselves. So, again, if you don’t know it, ask for it to be revealed to you deep down.
So let’s look now at Jesus’ invitation, after recalling and thanking the Father for their relationship, Jesus says to us, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. Jesus knew his relationship with the Father, He knew that no matter what happened He is the beloved Son of God from all eternity, and that deep intimate knowledge impacted him at this heavy and disheartened time. Yes, Jesus was burdened and heartbroken that the people rejected him. And even though He so deeply wanted them to know the love of the Father, they chose not to believe, not to repent. However, the external consequences, the pride and stubbornness of the people, didn’t effect Jesus- that is Jesus still found rest through the burden of rejection by knowing His identity. He found rest in the knowledge that He was the beloved Son- and the Father loved Him and was proud of Him, that He did all He could and them being stuck in their pride wasn’t Jesus’ fault. However, for us human beings, the external actions of the world around us so often effect our internal selves. We get so wrapped up in the external conditions around us that they affect our internal self-knowledge. We need to learn from Jesus and follow his example. Jesus praised the Father, he thanked Him again for the relationship, for that intimate knowledge of who the Father is and who He is as Son.
Jesus goes on to say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves”. A yoke, y-o-k-e, is the wooden device that held the 2 oxen together in plowing the fields. ‘Take my yoke upon you’- what Jesus is saying is he will walk with us and help carry our burdens. We don’t have to carry our burdens by ourselves, but Jesus wants us to learn from Him and to share in His identity. Just as everything that Jesus did was done in and with the Father, so we are to learn from Jesus and not do anything without Him. God doesn’t want us to just go to Him when we need help, but He wants us to surrender our daily lives and do all things in and with Him. It was because Jesus was meek and humble- that He was always in relationship, always in communication and communion with the Father- that He always kept that identity of the beloved Son of God. And so it is for ourselves, if we are meek and humble, if we know that we are a beloved child of God, no matter what we might do- or whatever might happen around us- knowing that perpetual identity keeps our external surroundings in proper perspective.
And my brothers and sisters, sometimes our biggest burdens are our own sin. So often we are too ashamed- thinking God can’t love us now- that we keep the distance. But Jesus says to us, come to me are you who are burdened by sin, and I will give you rest. Jesus carried the burden of the Cross all the way to his death, and did it all for the Father and without losing the knowledge of the Father’s love. So let us come to Jesus, humble ourselves and repent of our sinful pride. Let us too give thanks and praise that the Father loves us- no matter how bad our sin might be- He loves us and wants us to come to Him and share in His divine life. And so we come to Him in prayer and confession and there find rest for ourselves in God’s love, and let Grace carry us.BACK TO LIST