I’ve been kind of astonished lately at how Jesus talked about himself.
Take this statement: Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest. (from Matthew 11:28)
It’s lovely. Many a Christian over the years has memorized this line. I return to it as a promise when I’m praying for myself and for others. But recently I’ve been thinking that it is a radically presumptuous thing to say. Unless it’s true.
Jesus’ words here aren’t just a kind and gentle sentiment. He is making a powerful claim to be able to care for us in our places of deepest need. And he is inviting us to bring those deepest needs to him for that care.
Jesus doesn’t say: “Come to God, all you who are weary, and God will give you rest.” He doesn’t remind his disciples that the Lord is their shepherd. He makes an outlandish claim that he, Jesus, the carpenter’s son, the itinerant rabbi, can give them the peace and safety and that deep sense of belovedness they all are longing for.
It brings me back to C.S. Lewis’ famous “trilemma,” that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. The fact that Jesus’ followers recorded these statements and preserved them speaks to their experience of the truth of these claims. That Jesus really was willing to receive their burdens and able to give them rest.
I’m astonished. And I also join those early disciples in believing that Jesus still issues radical invitations and makes preposterous claims. And that I can turn to him and receive rest for my soul.
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