Working with Jesus
In this series we are looking at work through lens of the big story of Scripture—creation, fall, redemption and restoration. We saw that work is created by God and good. The creation is then distorted in the fall so our work becomes toilsome and difficult. Today we are going to look at work through the lenses of redemption and restoration, ie. through the lens of Jesus.
One of Jesus’ most shocking statements on work comes in Matthew 11:28-30:
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In this statement of Jesus we find three major hyperlinks to the curse of Genesis 3:
- labor, heavy laden — at the fall our work becomes toilsome and a burden. (Gen. 3:17-19)
- rest — after the creation of Gen. 1-2 the humans were set up to experience God’s ideal 7th day rest forever, but of course they forfeited that when they sinned and disobeyed God
- the command to learn from Jesus — in the garden the command remember was to not eat from the tree of knowing good and bad and the implication was that God would teach them good and bad if they would just wait on him. But they tried to learn it on their own by taking the fruit.
Jesus is inviting his followers into a new way of living. A new way of being human. A new way of ruling creation and fulfilling their cultural mandate. This is all achieved by coming to him, not just his teaching but he himself in relationship with him.
To take Jesus yoke upon ourselves, we must adopt the way of Jesus which is exemplified in gentleness (not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self importance) and humility. In doing this, he promises that we will find rest for our souls.
In the context of our work, this text points to the futility of our work apart from Jesus. Apart from Jesus we labor and are heavy laden and without rest. When the work behind our work (our passion and motivation for our work) is outside of Christ it is necessarily then based in sin. When our passion for work is based outside of Christ and his story of redemption our soul will never be at rest. Our lust will always crave another experience of pleasure; our pride another achievement to boast in; our envy another person to usurp; our greed another thing to buy; our desire for power another person to subjugate. Outside of work being yoked to Christ we will never find rest for our souls.
Conversely, when we are abiding in Jesus we are participating in his redemption of creation, working in his victory achieved at the cross, living for his glory and the world’s good, we find true Eden rest that will be fully realized in the new creation.
It is only found in Jesus. Only by coming to him is this life achieved. It is only by taking his yoke that we will find this true rest. In paradoxical form, when we take Jesus’ yoke and burden (both symbols of work) we find true rest (kinda like being rested in the garden to work and keep it… wink wink). It’s in this “with-Jesus-redemptive-work” that we find rest while working in the finished work of Jesus.
Jesus, as creator of all things in creation and redeemer of all things in his death and resurrection, is Lord of all. (Col. 1:15-20) So working with Jesus, in this Eden kind of work is participating with Christ in his redemption of creation. This redemption will be accomplished in full upon Jesus’ return but we are called to continue working with him here and now.
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For reflection time today, consider whether or not you are experiencing the true rest Jesus promises, even in your work. Are you at peace or flustered all the time? Even when you are working hard do you find fulfillment and satisfaction in your work. If you aren’t experiencing this then perhaps you are taking the yoke of someone or something else upon yourself. perhaps you are not working with Jesus.