I have often heard sermons on Matthew 11, verse 28 or verse 29, but seldom has the sermon given equal weight to both verses. The reason? They seem to contradict. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," Jesus calls out. But he continues, paradoxically, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Taken together, the two statements jar. Why would a person who is weary and burdened volunteer to take on a yoke?

The most common suggestion for resolving the dilemma is that oxen work in teams, and Jesus shares the other side of the yoke. But I see no hint of that explanation in the Bible passage. I have, however, spent much of my life studying "weary and burdened" living tissue in a country, India, where yoke and oxen are commonplace. Because of those experiences, I think I now understand this passage.

In India, I worked as a surgeon, mainly with leprosy patients. Leprosy is a disease of the nerves, and its victims do not feel pain. As I treated infected ulcers ...

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