It seems that everywhere I look, people are running on empty. Thinking about this posting, the lyric of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” came to mind.
Running on – running on empty, Running on – running blind, Running on – running into the sun, But I’m running behind.
I wonder. Is it possible that some of the glazed over eyes and the fatigue evident in the lives of so many believers results from the burdensome “yoke” of an unbiblical Gospel being placed on God’s people by many of today’s spiritual authorities? The Good News is that salvation is free to anyone who believes in the redemptive work of God’s only Son on the Cross, from the grave, and now in the sky.
Yeshua recognized this same kind of problem among His own people. The shepherds of Israel, Jewish religious leaders and teachers, had for centuries taken advantage of the sheep that God had entrusted to their care. Twisting God’s Word to support their own personal avarice and agendas, they collectively laid upon the backs of their own people burdens that none of them could bear.
Is it any wonder then why Jesus was so angry with the spiritual elite during His life and ministry?
As the Good Shepherd, He looked on the poor and downtrodden. He saw in them sheep without a shepherd. They were the ones He had come to rescue. They were the ones He came to lift up with gentleness and great care.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.– Matthew 11:28-30
When taking on the “yoke” of one of the Jewish rabbis of Jesus time, one agreed to take upon himself the way their teacher understood and applied Old Testament Scripture. Almost always, the other rabbis of Jesus’ day interpreted Old Testament Scripture through the lens of what they had been taught by those who came before them. Without taking the time to confirm whether or not their teachers had been correct, down through the years their collective rulings became the burdensome expectations placed upon the sheep of God’s flock. Year after year, the yoke of rabbinic Judaism grew heavier on the backs of God’s people.
2,000 years ago, most of the Jewish people that Jesus met had the same vacant look of people today, people who want to follow God and serve Him. They just don’t have the energy. Browne’s song would have been a hit in 30 A.D. They too were “running on empty.”
Yeshua saw His sheep and He had compassion on them. He bound their wounds, picked them up, and carried them until they could walk beside Him on their own. Messiah Jesus had no institutional or denominational agenda. He wanted nothing more than to shower them with the rest that only He can provide. His offer was unconditional, just believe in Him. That is still His message today.
His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. That message gave badly needed rest to Messiah’s people 2,000 years ago. And, it still does today.
In Him, the tank is never empty and that is GOOD NEWS!