I have been doing a sermon series on the historical roots of Christianity. Tomorrow we will take the following verse from Matthew:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
To illumine that text, we will look at their parallel in the figure of Sophia in Sirach:
“Come to me, you who desire me, and eat your fill of my fruits”
“Put your feet into her fetters, and your shoulders and carry her, and do not fret under her bonds. For at last you will find the rest she gives, and she will be changed into joy for you. Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense, and her collar a glorious robe. Her yoke is a golden ornament, and her bonds a purple robe.”
I hope comparing these passages will make it clear that Jesus was not speaking in a vacuum, but was often paraphrasing the Wisdom (Sophia) of Proverbs and of other ancient scriptures left out of the Protestant canon (like Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon.) Further, we will see that the wisdom literature of our canon is heavily influenced by earler roots coming from Egypt.
We will also notice how reducing the imagery down to male vocabulary makes some of the poetry harder to understand.
At this point, I suspect my three points will be that Jesus is not calling us to belief but to awareness, not to religion but to life, not to obedience but to love.