Summary: Often quoted and very familiar to even people who don’t follow Jesus’ "Come to me" passage. But do we really understand what Jesus means by it? This passage is full of cultural specific references that could easily be lost if we don’t understand the cultu
The Rest of the Story
May 25, 2008
Often quoted and very familiar to even people who don’t follow Jesus is His declaration, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” This is an amazing passage with a whole host of applications that can be derived. But do we really understand what Jesus means by it? This passage is full of cultural specific references that could easily be lost if we don’t understand the cultural setting that Jesus was referring to.
Rest has been the theme of the day. In Communion. Memorial Day is a day off for many people. It is a day of rest. We remember those who are “resting from their labors.” (Which is one of the applications that I have heard for this passage). But do we really know what Jesus meant by “rest” in this story? So let’s look at the rest of the story. Turn to Matthew 11:25-30.
Reverend Ole was the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church, and Pastor Sven was the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road.
They got together and decided to work on a join ministry project—an outreach project. Together they put a sign into the ground, that read:
“Da End iss Near! Turn Yourself Aroundt Now! Before It’s Too Late!”
As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!”
From the curve there came screeching tires and a big splash....
Rev. Ole turns to Pastor Sven and asks, “Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say ’Bridge Out’?”
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Let’s look at this passage. First of all, let me ask you a question. Jesus says, “I praise you Father because you have hidden these things.”
A Few Questions
What things are hidden? Ways of God
Specifically, it was the things that Jesus was teaching the people. These things that he taught were the ways of God. They were all based on his modified Shema of loving God and loving others.
How are they known? Revealed
Specifically they are being taught but not in the usual sense. What is the usual sense that religious things are taught? Through a Rabbi and disciple model. A young man that thinks he may have an aptitude for a particular Rabbi’s teaching goes to the Rabbi and ask to be considered to be a disciple. It was a great honor for parents especially the father for a son to be accepted.
The Rabbi asks questions of the potential disciples not to see how much he knows but to see if he really does get it: to see if the young boy really might be able to not just learn the facts but to live out the life of the Rabbi. The Rabbit is seeking to reproduce his life in the disciple. After many years of living and serving, maybe one day the disciple might be able to have some authority to do some of the teaching. Maybe when he was about thirty (How was Jesus when he started his ministry? Thirty) the disciple might actually be able to consider his own disciples.
Now the things that the Rabbi instilled in his disciples were the things that were instilled in him when he was a disciple. Nothing new was usually added unless there came an exceptional candidate that might actually have authority to add to the teaching or even create something new. But this happened once in a lifetime, maybe…
Jesus has already repeated this idea in chapter 10:24-25 when he said, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” The whole goal of the student was to be like his teacher.
Yet, Jesus had no Rabbi. He was a carpenter’s son. We don’t know exactly why Jesus was not given to a Rabbi. Probably for economic reasons. Tradition has it that Joseph died when Jesus was young. Perhaps Joseph was sick and Jesus just needed to help provide for the family.