The easy yoke of labor (Mt 11:28-11:30)

“Come to me!

All you who are

Growing weary!

All you who are

Laden with a heavy burden!

I will give you rest.

Take my yoke!

Learn from me!

I am gentle.

I am lowly in heart.

You will find rest

For your souls.

My yoke is easy.

My burden is light.”

 

Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.

ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν·

 ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν.

 

Matthew concluded this chapter with a unique saying of Jesus.  Jesus wanted his followers to pick up the yoke of his message.  A yoke was put on the shoulders of farm animals to help with plowing and planting.  The term was also used to represent the yoke of the Torah on the shoulders of many Israelites.  Jesus invited all those who were growing weary to come to him (Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες).  He wanted all those with a heavy burden (καὶ πεφορτισμένοι), so that he might give them rest (κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς).  They were to take his yoke (ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς) and learn from him (καὶ μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  He was gentle and lowly in heart (ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ).  They would find rest for their souls (καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν) because his yoke was easy (ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς) and his burden light (καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν).  The yoke of Jesus was light in comparison to the yoke of the Torah.

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The citation from Hosea about mercy (Mt 9:13-9:13)

“Go!

Learn what this means!

‘I desire mercy,

Not sacrifice!

I have come

Not to call the righteous,

But sinners.’”

 

πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.

 

This response of Jesus is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:17, and Luke, chapter 5;31.  Jesus explained that they ought to learn what he means (πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε), because he desired mercy (τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω), and not sacrifices (καὶ οὐ θυσίαν).  This was based on Hosea, chapter 6:6, where the essential message was that Yahweh wanted real faithful love, not mere sacrifices.  Hosea wanted the Israelites to have real knowledge of God, rather than worry about burnt offerings.  Jesus had come not to call the people who were righteous already (γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους), but to call the sinners (ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς).

Plural Model of Salvation

Jesus may not be the only Savior.  We can learn from other religions.  New is not wrong, just like the ideas of slavery have changed.  This psychology of faith says we have to follow the example of Jesus, really experience the presence of God in Jesus.  The Christian mission to teach all remains, but Christianity is not the final or superior religion.  Christianity is the best good news, not the only good news.  We appreciate all colors, but those in love say that the most beautiful woman in the world is the women that that they love.

Exclusive Model of Salvation

The exclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, as the only Son of God, the only Savior.  Jesus is the clearest way to salvation.  Evangelicals believe that you are not saved unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.  Certainly, he is the “best.”  Baptism in Jesus Christ brings the fullest revelation of truth.  There may be positive values elsewhere, but can you learn anything else?  The Christian Church is the one and only true religion.  There is no salvation outside this church.  Missionaries and evangelists have preached the need to know Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

The Old and the New Testament

The two major parts of the Christian Bible are the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Does this give a false impression that we have two different Bibles?  The New Testament books make references to the Old Testament works.  There was no New Testament canon until the second century, since consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century.  The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible canon has an even more complicated history.  Often, people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of what we call the Christian Bible actually existed before the time of Christ, since it describes the words and actions of God’s interaction with his promised chosen people, the Israelites, the Hebrews, or the Jews.

The peaceful reign of Yahweh (Mic 4:3-4:3)

“He shall judge

Between many people.

He shall arbitrate

Between strong nations far away.

They shall beat their swords

Into plowshares.

They shall turn their spears

Into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up

Its sword

Against another nation.

Neither shall they learn

War anymore.”

This was a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists, exactly the same as an oracle in Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word.  Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations.  Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows.  They would turn their spears into pruning hooks.  No one would lift a sword against anyone else.  People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn how to do it.  This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh.  It has never happened and probably will not.

The future reign of Yahweh at Zion (Mic 4:1-4:2)

“In days to come

The mountain of Yahweh’s house

Shall be established

As the highest of the mountains.

It shall be raised above the hills.

People shall stream to it.

Many nations shall come.

They shall say.

‘Come!

Let us go up

To the mountain of Yahweh!

Let us go

To the house of the God of Jacob!

He may teach us his ways.

We may walk in his paths.’

Out of Zion

Shall go forth instruction.

The word of Yahweh

Comes from Jerusalem.”

This is exactly the same as an oracle of Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word.  The Lord’s house would be on the highest mountain above the hills at Zion in Jerusalem.  All the nations of the world would come to the God of the house of Jacob, so that they could learn the ways and paths of Yahweh, the Lord God.