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"And I will give you rest." This is one of the most unique promises ever made. One translation of its full text is:
“Come to me, all you 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.”
It is very interesting how profoundly often it is, that the above words are just left by the side of the road, as if they were a sad grandfather, who is asked to sit on a park bench, while the others devote themselves to vicious games.
When the Lord made that offer, the people to whom He was speaking were very heavily burdened indeed, in a peculiar way. They were told that it was a terrible shame, that others controlled their land, had made a colony of their nation, and had made slaves of friends and neighbors and relatives. They were told that the only way to be redeemed from their shame, was to do things to fix it. And so they tried to do.
Bar-Abbas was the man, who was chosen to be freed instead of the Messiah. He was a revolutionary, an anti-Roman anarchist in today’s words, who had killed some people in the very short war he had started. He got some friends together and put up a little war, which was quickly squelched. And he was not the only one. There were many people like him and followers of them, all wanting very much to fix things and fight the Romans. Each group lasted until such time as the insurrections failed...at which time their leaders were abandoned to their executions. This happened over and over again.
The people were also told to be ashamed if they didn’t dress to the nines for Saturday morning services. They were told it was shameful if they and those close to them did not obey this and thousands of other rules which their leaders invented.
The rules were complex and terrible, and violated each other, routinely, and often. There were many different leaders, and they all had different sets of rules. They would teach their listeners of those rules, and motivate them as much as they could. They produced awful masses of groups, all trying to put each other to shame, engaging in public scenes of all kinds, fighting little wars with each other, and trying to motivate the relatively new law of their land -- the Roman authorities -- to throw each other in prison, and kill each other, in their efforts to force each other to behave as they wanted. According to God, those leaders and their followers had done so much evil unto Him, that He brought overlords in, the Romans and others before them, to humble them, to shame them, by mass destruction, in swords and fire.
And it is to these people, to whom the Lord says these words, words which were and are awful and radical to many to this day. “Come to me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”! Stop trying to shame others into being like you. Stop the tirades. Abandon the narrative of the world around you, because the Lord has already decided its destiny.
Part of that offer of the Lord, is an offer to rescue people from that destiny. And the mission He gives to His people, to help Him rescue others.
And it is “rescue”. People say “save”, as in the root of that word “salvation”, but in today’s language this word is so shotgun-blasted by empty tongues, as to be worthless. “Rescued” still has the knife-edge, the punch, so I shall use it. And the Lord does wish to rescue us.
He wishes to rescue us from the cares of this world. He wishes to rescue us from all of the worthless struggles of this world. And He wishes to rescue us from the destiny of this world. The whole world does not get rescued. Individual people, those who become willing to abandon the loves and cares of this world in favor of the Kingdom of God, do get rescued.
In truth, this is why so many of the leaders of people, have motivated the execution of the Messiah and those that know Him: the Messiah motivates those who listen to Him, to not give certain leaders, so much of what they want.
Consider with me now, what these leaders want. They want, and very badly, for you and me to help them try to force everyone around us, to be like them. They want our time, our voluntary money, our obedience, and our attention. For thousands of years they have had control, and have prevented people from reading and knowing the Lord’s desires.
And these leaders either don’t know, or don’t care, what the Lord has said of His mission and His purpose. They despise His mission and His purpose, and they promote the loves of this world. But they and their followers fail at everything they hold dearest, sooner or later, because the Lord has spoken. And all of those leaders and followers either learn to lie to themselves, learn to think as little as they can, or are granted to repent of it all and begin to serve the Kingdom of God. These days, doctors give many people drugs so they don’t have to think so much anymore, because it’s much more difficult to use alcohol as once was most common.
But it is that repentance which is most important. It is a turning of the way. We do not have to waste our times and our life-effort on improving this world. We have the privilege of accepting the call of the Lord, who wants us to be devoted to His Kingdom, to make use of His world as tools for the building of His Kingdom, before the time comes at which He has decided for this world to go away.
This is not to say, that He wants us take off all of our clothes, put on sheets with holes in the middle, and abandon police forces, militaries, hospitals, IT departments, office buildings, airplanes, toolboxes, and everything else. This is not what He told anyone, including Roman soldiers, and and armed Roman tax collectors. He wants us to become His ambassadors, the representatives of the Kingdom of God, to everyone we meet, right where we are, leaving only when we must, knowing that no one has any authority or power except by the direct will of His Father in Heaven.
And when it is His Kingdom that is important to us, and not the cares and purposes of this world, He has the most profound rest for us. We can be doing the same things day by day as most others next to us – but since our purposes are different, since our goals are different, our sense of success is different. If we ask Him to change these things in us, we will become less and less frustrated, because we care less and less about the things that don’t happen. Sad we may be more, but frustrated, much less, and new joys appear, because our new purposes are forever, and are not of this world.
We will experience much in our times which is not good; but the life worthwhile, is forever.
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