I've said I'm trying to read Matthew with new eyes, and I feel like that's happening for me to some extent. It certainly happened for me this morning when I read, 'My yoke is easy for those beneath it, and the load I put on you is light." which is a super-famous saying of Jesus' and one that I've heard many times, but that I saw new. I don't think I have anything to say about it, in fact I've always found it a bit puzzling and it's even more puzzling to me this morning now that I have these fresh eyes. It feels like it is such an odd thing for Jesus to say after the last ten chapters of talking about the way that He will be a source of conflict and the fact that people have to take up their crosses to follow Him.
Looking at the Tom Wright book, he sees this as really trying to be acceptable to God by keeping the law. The Pharisees said you needed to do a lot of things to be close to God, but Jesus just asks us to come spend time with Him. I feel like I already knew this, but if I allow myself to be challenged by it I can see that I still fall into this pressure to do things to be close to God. This is especially true of being in ministry. I experience a certain pressure to put a particular image out into the world, and I worry about what will happen if I mess that up. I'm mostly responding to other people's expectations in that moment, but I have this sense that if I don't look good, then I won't be taken seriously in ministry, and I will really be letting God down by not being what other people want me to be. It's insidious.
Even this blog or journal is part of that. There's this pressure to say something interesting or witty in the hopes of attracting a couple of readers or impress someone. Even the desire to help people can be a distraction from the main project of just reading the scripture and allowing it to speak to me, and to see what it has said to others. I see that Jesus wants to relieve me of that burden and allow me to just freely engage with His voice.