[for a detailed outline of the sub-section from which this passage comes, see the notes on Matthew 6:33 contained under the heading “Happy Conclusions” at the end of this series of readings.]
In this passage, Jesus is quoted as saying that all this really isn’t very complex – it’s not rocket science – keep it simple stupid. The difficulty is not in understanding what makes for good quality living, and good quality relationships, the problem lies in actually carrying it out. Jesus points out that there is a great deal of spiritual resource for doing that task.
Reference in Isaiah chapter 40 (see elsewhere in this list) is to the spiritual resource available to people in life.
Jesus then goes on to talk about His relationship to God from His perspective, and then He issues what I regard as the farmers invitation – at least that’s how I look at it out here on the prairies.
Farmers today can be classified in two groups
- Small-time farmers who struggle to make ends meet, some of whom have given up all hope of ever succeeding in a globalized agricultural context. Frequently this group looks at the level of stress in group number two and knows that it could never cope with that level of stress – the price of success as defined in the current agricultural context.
- Agribusiness-wanna-be farmers saddled with immense debt, and caught between low prices and high input costs, who are watching their capital investment be drained away. Frequently these people feel the threat of falling into the abyss of ending up like group number one, and being saddled with a load of shame they would find very difficult to deal with.
Both groups would find solace in this particular passage – as both groups crave both rest in peace – but the source of their discomfort comes from opposite ends of the economic scale in the area of agriculture. It is because of this reality, that I call this invitation by Christ to people who are tired, “the farmers invitation”.
The invitation itself is to take up a yoke. That is an old fashion farming implement where the it linked two oxen together and was designed to sit comfortably on the animal’s back to enable harnesses to go back for pulling farm implements like plows. Yolks were also used by individuals to carry loads equally over their shoulders, and are still bolted on to some canoes to make it easy to portage them between small bodies of water.
Jesus says that his yoke fits well, and his burden is light – that is, the good news that He is sharing with other cultures in the world through his apostles, is designed to make life better not worse.
If it were being compared to the situation today, a church would be regarded as a gasoline station along the highway – designed to provide spiritual connection to fuel for the journey, and therefore freeing us up from having to push our vehicle from Winnipeg to Calgary.