[Jesus said:] “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:16-18 ESV
Do you have a dog? They can be a lot of work. You have to clean up after dogs, and feed them, and make sure they get exercise, and brush them, and sometimes give them baths. But the work of having a dog is nothing compared to the joy people can get from their pet. Some dogs have special jobs to do. There are service dogs who might help people who are deaf or blind or have other problems. Service dogs give people the ability to live better lives, and can even save the lives of the people who own them. There is also a type of dog called an emotional support dog. Emotional support dogs don’t perform any special services, but they are just there to give the love and companionship to a person who is very sad and lonely. People who own emotional support dogs might have to do the work of caring for their dogs, but the work seems like nothing compared to all the love and happiness these dogs give them when life seems very hard.
Jesus is a tiny bit like an emotional support dog. He called people who were tired and working hard in their lives to come to him, and he would help them and love them and give them the rest they needed. He said that he was humble and gentle and would give their souls rest. But he also said that people who come to him would have to wear a yoke. A yoke is something an animal, or sometimes a person, would wear across his or her shoulders to do some kinds of work. Oxen would wear a yoke to pull a plow through the field, for instance. But Jesus said that the yoke he would give people would be easy, and the burden they would have to carry would be light. It would be kind of like giving care to a special dog. The work of caring for the dog seems like nothing compared to the love and help the dog gives the person.
The way Jesus gives us help and love is to forgive all our sins. We don’t have to carry the weight of guilt and shame, and we don’t have to be afraid of God’s punishment. Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross, and we can give all of our sins to Jesus and have complete rest and comfort every day. Jesus gives us work to do for him, but he doesn’t leave us by ourselves to do it. He is with us always, helping us and showing us his ways. He continues to forgive us and comfort us when we fall short, and blesses us with his love, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking away the burden of our sins and making us yours forever. Amen.