He Made “Heavy Loads” Light
JESUS said concerning the scribes and Pharisees: “They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4) As evidence of how that proved to be true, we read the following in A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings:
“The scribes were not philosophers; they were interpreters of the sacred Law. . . . Every department of life was regulated by it. . . . Every biblical commandment was surrounded by a network of petty regulations. No allowance was made for changing circumstances; full obedience to the Law in all its particulars was inexorably demanded of every Jew. To the precepts of the Written Law were added those of the ‘Halakha’ or Traditional Law, which was handed down as a sacred trust from generation to generation, and ultimately embodied in the Talmud. . . . An attempt was thus made to bring every conceivable case within the scope of the Law, and with merciless logic to regulate the whole of human conduct by strict rule of thumb. Legal details were multiplied until religion became a trade, and life an intolerable burden. Men were reduced to moral automatons. The voice of conscience was stifled; the living power of the Divine word was neutralized and smothered beneath a mass of eternal rules. Hence our Lord’s accusation against the Pharisees, that by their traditions they made void the Law.”
How encouraging it must have been for humble, sincere people to learn that the Son of God did not view worship in that way! How delightful they must have found his words: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light”!—Matthew 11:28-30.