Sunday, March 11: Learn the unforced rhythms of grace
We return to our occasional reading from beginning to end through the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus' divine nature and his status as the Messiah—as the Son of David, the Son of Man, and the Son of God. For a few weeks, we'll read from The Message.
Read Matthew 11:25-30
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Elsewhere Jesus tells us that the way to God "is vigorous and requires total attention" and that each of his followers must take up their cross and let him lead. But here he speaks to some very different themes: "how to take a real rest," not needing to bear a heavy burden on our shoulders, and how "to live freely and lightly." How might you reconcile these two seemingly disparate sets of ideas?
Read the whole last paragraph of the passage again, or maybe two or three times. Jesus isn't contradicting his statements elsewhere that following him is a hard road. Instead he says, "Come with me, and I'll show you how it's done. And when it gets especially hard, I'll show you how you can rely on me to get through that, too. But you have to emulate me in my 'unforced rhythms of grace.'"