In 1 Kings 12, Rehoboam is taking over as king after his father Solomon dies. The people come to him and ask him to lighten the yoke, the heavy taxes and harsh labor, that Solomon had burdened them with. Following bad advice from friends, Rehoboam says, "No, I will increase the yoke." Rehoboam's stubbornness had disastrous results. The people rebelled and the kingdom was divided for centuries because of the heavy yoke he intended to place on them. This yoke was more than the people could handle, but it was not one placed on them by God. Solomon had initiated it and Rehoboam was going to increase it. He was not listening to God.
In the New Testament, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). This is in stark contrast to what Rehoboam proposed and in contrast to the many restrictions that the Pharisees placed on people in Jesus' time. Who could know and observe all the laws and their interpretations that the Jewish leaders had come up with? It was another form of a heavy burden.
So, let's consider where our burdens come from today. They can come from others, as in our examples from the Old and New Testament. Today it might be our jobs that place such burdens upon us or our government in the form of taxes and laws. Burdens can come from ourselves in the guise of wanting more money, or greater recognition or a larger house. Another burden we can place on ourselves is sin.
But notice that these burdens don't come from God. Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Anything that he gives us to do, any burden he places upon us, he will help us fulfill. He won't just give it to us and say, "Go. Do your thing. I'll check back on you later." No, if he gives us something to do he will help us do it.
For Reflection: Where do my burdens come from? From someone else, from me, or from God?
Let us pray with the song below.
(Image by Samo Trebizan)