Jesus says, “Come to me,” and, in his mercy, nonetheless comes to us. Jesus says, “Come to me,” and before we know it, here he is, for us. We know we can never “come to him” as we are. Our daily commute is enough to do us in, there’s no way we are trekking to heaven, not with all that weighs us down. Jesus says, “Come to me,” but then he comes to us.
Jesus says, “Come to me,” and we receive him, not merely according to our intellect, but in a much deeper way. Although we most certainly do learn the Faith (the content), faith is more than that. Jesus comes to us, not like a math problem, but like cold water on a hot day. He comes to us, not like a history quiz, but like the Coast Guard after a bad kayak trip. When Jesus says, “Come to me,” he calls us to come, not like a factory worker for a paycheck, but like a toddler to its mother. We come to him because we have nowhere else to go, and why would we want to go anywhere else, because our mother has always provided for our needs. Life and everything in it thus far has only been gift, and so gifts are what we expect to receive, and gifts are what Jesus gives. We come to him because he loves us, he is good, he puts us before himself in all sorts of ways. Thus, the Father has revealed these things to little children. “Come to Me,” Jesus says, as He comes to us, to bring us what He promises: rest.
This runs counter to our instincts. For most things in life, there’s a catch, a deal to make, a quid pro quo. We exchange goods and services for currency. We get favors with the promise of a favor in return. Even in marriage, the love most like that between Christ and his church, there’s often a back and forth. Coming to someone simply to set down one’s burdens, to do nothing, and be accepted for it, that’s a rare thing.
Rest doesn’t come cheap. Perhaps there’s no scarcer commodity in our time. Plenty sell it, but there’s no warranty, and it seldom lasts. We think we should labor for it. We think we should earn it. And so it’s always costly, and never enough. But Jesus speaks precisely to those who labor and are heavy laden and says, “I will give you rest.” All he wants is for us to set down our burdens. In fact he takes them from us, takes them upon himself. He wants nothing in return.
Many of you are facing trials and tests as you read this. It’s been a year, a few years, a decade, a lifetime. For many, rest is a pipedream. We put our head on the pillow knowing we’ll wake up the next day more tired than the day before. We take a little while for ourselves knowing that it will only mean less time tomorrow. But laboring and heaping up worry upon worry won’t help. This treadmill doesn’t turn off. The world doesn’t sell authentic Sabbaths, only knockoffs. True Sabbaths are never a wage. They are always a gift.
Listen to your Savior speak, “Come to Me.” Your Savior’s shoulders are broad and strong, even should they not look it in his self-chosen weakness. Believe it or not, they’ve carried the sin of the world. They can carry your burden. What you need isn’t more work, but rest.
You are the toddler. Here is your mother, the giver of gifts, the source of free love. Christ loves you. He puts you first. He picks you up and delights in you and provides for you, because that’s what saviors do and he is the Savior, the only one, and he is the Sabbath, the best one, the only one that’s not a cheap imitation, even when it comes with a big price tag. You are not a bother to him. You are why he has meat on his bones and marks on his hands. You are what brought him to earth and what drew him back to heaven, to prepare a place for you.
“Come to me,” Christ says, and yet he comes to you. Find rest, he says, and he is it. There is nothing to buy, nothing to earn, nothing to put off for tomorrow. There’s only Jesus, once weary and heavy-laden on Good Friday, so that you can stop being so now.