A reflection on Matthew 11:28–29

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are car­ry­ing heavy bur­dens, 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.

—Jesus, in Matthew 11:28–29

Some­one asked me recent­ly, “Why isn’t this scrip­ture empha­sized more?”

My friend’s point was that through­out the scrip­tures, Jesus tells us how to find the Way that we seek: be joined togeth­er with Christ in the work of build­ing God’s king­dom on earth as it is in heav­en. The bur­den Jesus asks us to carry—the task of chang­ing the world—is not heavy because we are not alone, we are yoked togeth­er in this work.

The image of a yoke may be anti­quat­ed. Except in his­tor­i­cal muse­ums, we don’t see these devices often. In Liv­er­pool, our dai­ly bread does not depend upon the com­bined efforts of a team of draft ani­mals joined by a wood­en yoke to pull togeth­er more than any one of them could pull alone. Some coun­ty fairs still have horse pulls, where observers can wit­ness the truth that a team of hors­es can pull so much more than the sum of the weights either horse could pull on its own.

The bur­dens of our lives can be made so much lighter when we work togeth­er. Synergy—the abil­i­ty of two or more to accom­plish more than the sum of the parts—can be seen in a vari­ety of fields beyond agri­cul­ture. In med­i­cine, the com­bined effects of two or more drugs may be very dif­fer­ent than the effects of each drug inde­pen­dent of the oth­ers. In man­age­ment, the pow­er of teams to pro­duce more than a group of indi­vid­u­als work­ing inde­pen­dent­ly is well doc­u­ment­ed.

I was amazed by the team­work that led to the Out­reach Commission’s Tag Sale net­ting more than $800! Most of the items sold were less than $5, and many of the items were priced at $1 or less. This mon­ey will be used in mis­sion with Red Bird Mis­sion’s Appalachi­an Crafters, allow­ing them to trans­port hand-made goods for a craft fair here at Liv­er­pool First on June 27 and 28. The craft fair will help lift the bur­den of extreme­ly lim­it­ed eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple liv­ing in the iso­lat­ed moun­tains of South­east­ern Ken­tucky.

Work­ing togeth­er, we can do so much more to change the world than any of us could do alone. That’s part of what it means to be yoked togeth­er with Christ. The bur­den Jesus asks us to help carry—the task of chang­ing the world—is not heavy because we are not alone, we are yoked togeth­er in this work.

Bless­ings, Pas­tor Ali­son