“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28-30).
These words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew resonate in our Anglican liturgical tradition. For many centuries after the Reformation they were recited in a slightly different translation as one of a series of “comfortable words” (words meant to “fortify”) in connection with the Confession of Sin and Absolution at the Eucharist. They are still found in the Rite I liturgy familiar to many Episcopalians.
Christians need encouragement in their daily lives. We are sinners, and as an old prayer puts it, there is “evil that we have done,” as well as “evil we have endured.” We need forgiveness, as well as grace to persevere in the face of challenges. Carrying out our ministries is demanding work.
Jesus is the one by whom and in whom sins are forgiven. In this short verse he acknowledges both the help we need and himself as the source of that strength. He recognizes the common human nature he shares with us, and his own divine nature as the source of salvation. We may be weary but he is not. He took our heavy burdens upon himself on the cross.
- Bishop John