Summary: Jesus offers the absolute best gift we could imagine, the gift of Himself - up close, personal, and intimately connected to us in our joy and in our distress.

Who here loves dogs? Some of us have a real love for animals. There can be a deep connection between a dog and his master, or a cat and his servant. Cats don’t have masters. They know they are the boss.

Well, a while back a newspaper carried the story of Tattoo, the basset hound. Now a basset hound is strong, but a basset hound is not made for running fast. In this story, Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice.

OPP Officer Terry Filbert notice a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He commented that the poor basset hound was, “picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could.”

He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued. But not before the dog had reached a top speed of 25 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times.

Too many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around & feeling dragged through life. Can you relate to Tattoo the basset hound? I can.

And sometimes we can feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. Our loved ones are hurting, or they’re making bad decisions that will lead to bad things. We struggle financially. We struggle romantically. We struggle physically, especially those of us who are no longer spring chickens. I’ve realized lately that I am no longer a spring chicken. No longer ‘young’. It’s not a lot of fun.

What do YOU do with your burdens? How do you manage your struggles. Sometimes we can feel like nobody understands us, that our lives are the worst.

There’s a story of a Chinese woman who lost her dear son. She could not find comfort. She went to wise old man and asked what to do.

To her surprise he said: “Go to a home that has no sorrow or grief, and bring back a mustard seed, and I will restore your son”. Several days went by, and she returned and said, “I have been so selfish in my grief…sorrow is common to every home.”

Well, it’s true. Sorrow and hardship, struggle and burden are common to everyone.

I’m going to ask __________ to read today’s passage.

When you hear a passage like that, it really seems like Jesus understands everything I’ve said so far. He gets how rough, how hurtful, how frustrating, how burdensome, how just plain tiring life can be.

It’s not hard to see that He empathizes with us. In the same book of Matthew, Jesus says in chapter 23:37: “...How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing”.

So Jesus is not lacking in compassion for us. He clearly gets what life is about. God knows first hand what it means to be human, because Jesus was God in the flesh.

But He doesn’t just have compassion to offer us. It’s not just empathy. It’s not really words at all. If you think about it, what Jesus is offering is Himself. He says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

He giving an invitation to us to find our rest in Him, in connection to Him, in relationship with HIm. It’s a tremendously personal and intimate invitation to know Him, to love Him, to dwell with Him.

Then He asks us to do a switcheroo. We have our burden, our sadness, our struggle, our sorrow as a controlling thing in our lives, kind of like an oxen has a big yoke that is controlling him. And Jesus knows it’s too much to bear. Too much.

So He says: “Hey...take my yoke upon you. I’ll show you how to live, I’ll show you how to cope with life. You can learn from me. “I’m a good teacher”, Jesus says. I’m not combative and argumentative. I’m gentle. In my heart, I’m truly humble.

When you come to me, your soul will find a resting place. Let me take your burden, upon myslef, and you take this one instead. My yoke isn’t hard. It’s easy. My burden isn’t backbreaking, it’s light.

So Jesus has something to trade with you tonight. He wants your burdens. He wants your sorrows. He wants your sadness. In return, He’ll give you Himself. He’ll give you HImself.

And as with anything offered, we need to decide if we want to receive it. Are we going to receive what Jesus is offering, which is - Himself?

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