Burden (noun): that which is carried; load; that which is born with difficulty; obligation; onus
Burden (verb): to load heavily; to load oppressively; trouble
We are not meant to avoid those who are burdened. We’re not meant to bear them alone, either. Burdens are meant to be shared.
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
This directive comes after instruction for gently restoring someone caught in sin. So, burden bearing involves restoration. Bearing one another’s burdens requires that we share them with one another. It also means we need to be willing to bear (i.e., hold up; support) others and their burdens.
“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” (Sam, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
We are to remain firm for them under the weight of those burdens. In other words, we don’t take on the burdens as our own, but we provide steadiness for those buckling under the weight of their burdens. We support them and point them to Jesus because we know he is the only path for restoration and peace.
Rest from Burdens
While we’re meant to support others and let others support us, freedom from the burden of sin only comes through Jesus. Relief from sin’s constant weight – it’s burden – comes only through him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
The Benson Commentary says the burden talked about here is the slavery to sin and Satan. It’s love of the world and pursuit of the world’s vanities as well as the distress of life and its various trials. The rest that Jesus gives when we go to him with our burdens is described by Benson as rest:
- From the guilt of sin by justification
- From the power of sin by sanctification
- From a sense of wrath of God and an accusing conscience
- In peace with God and peace of mind
- From all carnal affections
- From fruitless worldly cares, disquietudes, and labors
- In the love of God shed abroad in your heart
- In the midst of the affliction, trials, and troubles of life
- In full assurance all things work for your good
- Even though the world has tribulation
So, Jesus is saying that partnering with him results in relief from unbearable weight. He says this, notably, right after saying we can only know God through him. As we come to Jesus with whatever is weight us down, we are sustained through increased peace. We become firm and unshakeable when we give our burdens to Christ.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)
As we cast our burdens on the Lord, we become immovable. When we’re immovable, we’re then able to obey the law of Christ to bear one another’s burdens. As we discover restoration, we become better able to point others toward restoration.