THE FREEING GOSPEL
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
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“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat… They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23:2,4

One of the main issues Jesus identified with the Pharisees and teachers of the law was that all the rules and regulations they had conceived and followed to please God turned into restrictive, oppressive and heavy burdens on the shoulders of the Israelites. The active, living relationship their forefather, Moses, enjoyed with God in receiving the Law was nowhere to be seen in these religious leaders. In effect, they were using the rules to have control over their people and to stay in power.

What Jesus saw was the godless, legalistic religiosity of the Pharisees weighing the Jewish people down with cumbersome loads, defeating the whole purpose of why He came in the first place. Jesus said, “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).

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to set us free from the oppressive and impossible burden of keeping the Law. In relationship with Him, He not only lifts the burden from our shoulders, but makes it His burden, so that we may experience liberation from the Law and comfort in the fact that He also has the yoke upon His shoulders. Jesus uses the analogy of His yoke being easy because a yoke was very familiar to the people. Two oxen were used to plough the field, bound together by a heavy wooden yoke. A weaker, slower ox would be paired with a stronger one and forced to keep up. This was, of course, painful and brutally tiring on the weaker ox, and is illustrative of our struggling with all of life’s battles and burdens under our own steam.

Any understanding of the Christian Gospel that imposes a heavy burden is the opposite of what Jesus came to do. The Gospel is designed to be liberating, not oppressive. Outside of a relationship with Christ, we will end up measuring ourselves and others by how well we keep the rules. If our focus is on externally imposed laws, they will become a burden that will ultimately replace the life and relationship we are to enjoy with Christ. Only Christ can be Christ-like and in our dependence on Him, allowing Him to live His life in us and through us, we are empowered to keep the Law. We need not be bound by legalism, but instead, take hold of this extraordinary gift of the simplicity and freedom we have in Christ.

PRAYER: I am grateful, Lord, for not living in the shell of an empty, lifeless religion. Thank you for the vibrant, joyful life I have in You and for giving me rest and freedom from the Law.


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