Matthew 11, verses 25 to 30
These days, there are so many pressures upon us; there are so many people who are restless and frustrated and lacking focus and direction.
Let me tell you a true story about a friend of mine who discovered the secret of being fulfilled, and of knowing exactly how to get the most out of life.
This story is typical of my late friend Jimmy Bain.
A few years ago, the head teacher of a primary school in Roxburgh took thirty of her children on an outing to Edinburgh Zoo.
As they were driving along, their bus driver suddenly slammed on the brakes. A stranger had dashed into the road and signalled the bus to stop.
A moment later he was telling the teacher that he had a message for them.
What had happened? Was it some emergency? They weren’t puzzled for long.
For the stranger disappeared into a nearby shop – and came out again carrying an enormous box of sweets and chocolate which he handed over to the teacher.
There was enough in the box for a treat for everyone, including the driver, and even enough for another hand out at school playtime the next day.
The stranger – it was Jimmy Bain – had been driving behind the bus, and had been taken by the children waving happily to him.
So, he overtook the bus and drove ahead to the first sweetie shop to buy them all a treat.
Indeed, he had bought so many sweets that he had to dash out into the road and stop the bus going past until the sweets were all packed in a box.
Hence the dramatic incident of the mystery man who had stopped the bus!
But there was no mystery about this most kindly and generous man. Jimmy was a committed Christian who never thought twice about helping others, or making their lives happier – and it gave him great satisfaction.
He acted out of love – he had ‘taken the yoke of Christ upon him’
Jesus said ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest; for the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light’
Jesus would know all about yokes – the wooden yoke which was placed on the shoulders of an ox in order to harness the beast to a cart or a plough.
Jesus had been a carpenter, and knew how the ox would be brought to the carpenter’s shop and carefully measured, before a rough version of the yoke was carved.
The ox would later be brought back, and the yoke tried on him, before being carefully adjusted by shaving down the wood to make it a perfect fit. The yokes for oxen were tailor made
And the yoke of Jesus Christ – the way of compassion, mercy, justice, peace and, first & foremost, his own way of love – is made to measure for us…if we take his way upon us.
The burden laid upon us is love and is meant to be carried by us in love. And love makes even the heaviest burden lighter.
Christ can give us peace and fulfillment in a restless world that doesn’t know where it’s going.
And through us and the likes of us, that busy, frenetic anxious world can find its peace and its rest and its joy.
Lord, we come unto you and we lift up our burdens to you – our worry, our anxiety, our fear, our tiredness and we ask that put in their place your burden and your yoke.
Help us to learn from you, to rejoice in you, and to serve you that we may find the rest that you have promised.
We come to you today not only for ourselves, but for others – for those who do not know your peace, for those who cannot find rest.
We ask your healing to be upon those who are sick; your wisdom and your love to be with those in despair; and your joy to all who feel unfulfilled.
And we pray for all us gathered here this day in fellowship and in worship; we pray that your joy and your love will flow freely in us and through us as we take up our yoke and follow where you lead us
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. AMEN.