We’re here to uplift your Christian faith, to build you up in the knowledge of Christ, you Savior. It would seem appropriate, then, to explain the name of this blog. How uplifting can we really be if our title starts with “burden”? For those enlightened by Jesus, the idea of a burden seems far and distant. To look at our faith as a burden, in fact, seems downright inappropriate. What’s the point of this thing called Christianity if it’s just another hardship in life?
While not the lasting impression we want to leave on our readers and hearers, the idea of a burden is an entirely accurate description of the Christian faith. Twice in his prophecy, Zechariah started his message by saying, “The burden of the word of the LORD…” You may notice in your Bible translation that Hebrew word for “burden” can also mean “oracle” or “revelation”, and that’s true. But, the most basic meaning of this word is “burden”. It’s used for something difficult that must be carried. Was it right for Zechariah to speak about the LORD’s word like this? The fact that the Holy Spirit was working through Zechariah is answer enough. Zechariah wasn’t the only one, either. God’s final Old Testament Scripture, written through the prophet, Malachi, used the same phrase for his message.
Furthermore, every other prophet of God bore the same burden as Zechariah and Malachi even if they didn’t use the same phrase to describe it. For God’s prophets, and to the Hebrew mind, having an oracle or revelation from the LORD was synonymous to carrying a burden. We can relate to that. The most important pieces of information in life are often difficult to carry. To have something important, valuable, and precious is an awesome responsibility and not to be taken lightly. How much more so with the inspired words of our eternal and almighty God?
But, perhaps the most compelling evidence comes from Jesus. He would tell His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).” According to God’s own Son, following by faith was not only a burden, it was like carrying a cross. His own example shows us how difficult that is. Jesus would set the tone to these words near the end of His life. One cannot be a Christian and avoid this burden. Therefore, burden-bearing is not only appropriate to faith, it’s absolutely necessary. If we are looking to give up the word of God or to deny it because of pressure from the world, then we cannot be Christ’s. To be the Lord’s is to live under the burden of His word. It means we feel the compulsion to follow that word and to proclaim it. It means we embrace it and use it. How heavy a burden this is at times!
God’s law speaks to all and its message isn’t very fun. But, this is where the other part of our name is meant to come into focus – Blessing. The end of the Christian faith gives us hope. There is a blessing to come from this burden. And because of Jesus, it is a blessing that is free. We do not bear the burden of the word to earn blessings for ourselves. We bear it to reflect the Lord and Savior who bore the eternal weight of the world’s sin, shame, and guilt on the cross. We have blessings upon blessings because of Jesus. Our “cup runs over” day after day.
Jesus does not promise earthly prosperity. He is not a ‘seven-steps to success’ teacher. He does not help those who help themselves. He did not come to earth so that we could sit back and be comfortable. We carry His burden.
Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
We’re not here to fulfill our debt, but to revel in Christ’s glory. Our sufferings for His name are a testament that we are redeemed from sin. Let us not shy away from this burden but bear it with pride and gratitude for our Lord and Savior. God uses this burden, the name of His Son in His word, to drive us back, again and again, to the blessings of forgiveness.