In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us the familiar phrase where he says to us “come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” It is one of those things that sounds wonderful and comforting, but do we really know what Jesus is asking us to do?
A couple of things…when Jesus says come to him, you who are labored, who is he talking to? Who are “those who are labored?” Are they farmers, construction workers, teachers, salesmen, office workers and the like? Is he simply talking about those who labor physically and are so terribly tired? If we look at it this way, it almost seems as though Jesus is promoting a new day spa where the labored would come to be rejuvenated with messages, mud packs, saunas, etc.
Clearly, Jesus is not simply talking to those who are physically tired and labored, he is speaking more broadly. We can all imagine certain points of our life where we may have felt exhausted, not because of our job or physical fatigue, but exhausted mentally and even spiritually. We may admit that life in general is often confusing, hectic, chaotic and exhausting. We flop into bed and lie awake too worried, too tired, too confused to sleep. I believe it is all of us who are the labored, the ones Jesus is calling. Jesus is calling us whether we are actually labored, exhausted at the moment, have felt that way in the past and will likely feel that way in the future. He is telling us that his spiritual and life giving spa is open for us as a remedy and as a prevention. He will give you the rest you need.
And just what is that rest Jesus promises us when we turn to him? In other words, what does Jesus actually do for us when he promises to give us rest? In the midst of our labor, confusion, pain, fatigue and disillusionment, Jesus gives us hope. Jesus gives us direction, validation, meaning and comfort. He offers the rest that comes from knowing we are loved and accounted for. He gives the rest that comes when we realize there is a plan and there is meaning in this world in the difficulties of our labor. He gives us the rest that comes from the hope he offers, that life does have meaning and that for all of our labors, all of our Good Fridays there is the rest and the hope of Easter Sunday.