Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®

God the Preserver of Man

from the Golden Text

Psalms 55:22

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.

Burden is translated from the Hebrew noun ye hāb, often rendered worries. The author of First Peter echoes this verse in encouraging Christians to “[cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (5:7).

cast: place
sustain: maintain; support

from the Responsive Reading

Luke 12:24, 25, 27, 28

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? . . . Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 

While Matthew’s account refers generically to the “fowls of the air” (Matthew 6:26), Luke specifies ravens. Because they were regarded as among the least valuable of birds—and classed in the Torah as ritually unclean (see Leviticus 11:13, 15)—their mention underscores God’s all-embracing care.

Although thought by some to encompass an array of wildflowers, “lilies” is an accurate and specific term. In the desert, where wood was scarce, dried flowers and grasses were indeed used as fuel.

taking thought: thinking
cubit: ancient measure of length, about 18 inches (46 cm)
toil: labor continuously; work hard 
spin: twist wool into yarn or thread
arrayed: dressed

Luke 12:29–32

Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 

A heavenly kingdom governed by a divine monarch is an idea grounded in ancient Eastern cultures. Most people imagined their gods as having defeated other gods—as reigning supreme in the heavens and overseeing the earthly nations that worshiped them. Experience revealed to the Jews one omnipotent ruler, Yahweh. His kingship is a frequent theme in Hebrew Scripture (see examples in Psalms 5:2Isaiah 33:22). 

In the New Testament, “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” occur one hundred times. Christ Jesus’ teaching elevates the concept from a geographical or political entity to the spiritual kingdom “at hand” and “within you” (Matthew 4:17Luke 17:21).

from Section 1

2 | Nehemiah 9:7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 21

Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; . . . and didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea; . . . And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; . . . Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. . . . And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them. . . . Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing.

Soon after completion of Jerusalem’s wall under Nehemiah’s leadership, the Hebrews gather for a reading of the Torah (see 8:1–8). Then the Levites (members of Israel’s priestly tribe) recount Yahweh’s acts of deliverance and guidance, preparing the people to renew their covenant with Him (see 9:36–38). 

Recitals of Jewish history often begin with the pivotal events surrounding Abram, Israel’s first patriarch (see a New Testament summary in Acts 7:2–47). Ur, his traditional birthplace, was a principal city of southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and a center for the worship of the moon-god Sin. (Chaldees is another term for Chaldeans, residents of Babylonia.) Abram’s God-directed journey out of Ur to Haran and Canaan (see Genesis 11:3112:1–9) launches the Hebrew, Arab, and Edomite nations.

affliction: state of pain or suffering

3 | Proverbs 3:5, 6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 

Translation

With all your heart
you must trust the LORD
     and not your own judgment.
Always let him lead you,
and he will clear the road
     for you to follow.

—Contemporary English Version

from Section 2

4 | Psalms 40:11, 12

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about.

Some commentaries see a prayer of confidence instead of petition in this passage. Hebrew scholar Robert Alter has, for instance: 

You, Lord, will not hold back
Your mercies from me.
Your steadfast truth
Shall always guard me.
For evils drew round me
Beyond count.

5 | Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

In ancient times, the right side was considered to be the strongest. The right hand was used for swearing oaths, the right eye was deemed the most vital part of the body, and the seat to the right of a host was the seat of honor. The imagery of God’s right hand appears throughout Scripture, representing divine might and majesty (see example in Exodus 15:6).

Yea can signify yes, moreover, or also. Here, as in hundreds of biblical statements, it conveys certainty and affirmation (see other instances in Genesis 17:15, 16Psalms 16:6II Corinthians 1:20).

6 | Isaiah 43:2, 4, 6

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. . . . Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: . . . I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.

Translation

When you cross deep rivers,
I will be with you,
     and you won’t drown.
When you walk through fire,
you won’t be burned
     or scorched by the flames. . . .
To me, you are very dear,
     and I love you. . . .
I will say to the north
     and to the south,
“Free my sons and daughters!
Let them return
     from distant lands.”

—Contemporary English Version

7 | Romans 8:16, 31, 35, 37

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: . . . If God be for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Translation

. . . the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say that we are God’s children. . . . If God is for us, then no one can defeat us. . . . Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings? If we have no food or clothes, if we are in danger, or even if death comes—can any of these things separate us from Christ’s love? . . . But in all these things we have full victory through God who showed his love for us.

—International Children’s Bible

8 | II Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Translation

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

—Amplified® Bible

Addressed to Paul’s young disciple Timothy, this assertion identifies four qualities that define the Christian: courage, power, love, and self-control. Of courage and self-control, a scriptural authority points out: “. . . courage comes from the continual consciousness of the presence of Christ . . . . It is Christ alone who can give us that self-mastery which will keep us alike from being swept away and from running away.”

from Section 3

10 | Psalms 92:13, 14

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.

Building on a tree metaphor from verse 12, the Psalmist commends deep-rooted commitment to God as the key to growth and prosperity. “The righteous are able to take root, grow, and be fruitful,” one source reflects, “because God is both their foundation and their constant source of nourishment.”

Although the Temple in Jerusalem, including the courtyards in the Temple compound, was viewed as God’s house (see I Kings 9:1Nehemiah 8:16), here “courts of our God” describes the kingdom of heaven.

12 | Isaiah 65:20, 22

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: . . . They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Translation

“No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
     No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. . . . 
Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
     and confiscate their vineyards. 
For my people will live as long as trees, 
     and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.”

—New Living Translation

thence: from that place

from Section 4

13 | Psalms 34:8, 10

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. . . . they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

Translation

     Find out for yourself how good the LORD  is.
     Happy are those who find safety with him. . . .
     those who obey the LORD  lack nothing good.

—Good News Translation

15 | Matthew 15:32–38

Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. 

A basic food in ancient times, bread was considered a gift from God and a daily reminder of His continuous love. This story beautifully demonstrates the abundance of that spiritual gift. Later, the Savior identifies himself as the “bread of God,” the “bread of life,” and the “living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:33, 35, 51), elevating the symbol of bread to the understanding of God that is essential to life.

compassion: deep understanding and tender desire to help someone
fasting: going without food

16 | II Corinthians 9:8, 10

God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: . . . Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.

Translation

. . . God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything—enough to give to every good work. . . . God is the One who gives seed to the farmer and bread for food. He will give you all the seed you need and make it grow so there will be a great harvest from your goodness.

—New Century Version

from Section 5

17 | Isaiah 25:1

O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

counsels: direction; guidance
of old: from long ago; lasting a long time

18 | Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Translation

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”

—Amplified® Bible

20 | Matthew 17:14–20

When they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

In Mark’s record, Jesus likewise laments his disciples’ faithlessness. But there his response to their question is, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Matthew, in contrast, focuses his account on faith. A commentary suggests, “The faith in which they come up short is the trust in God’s power that facilitates the extraordinary feats of the Christian mission . . . .”

On another occasion, Jesus replies to the apostles’ request to increase their faith, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6). The Master also speaks about mountain-moving faith after his withering of the fig tree (see Matthew 21:19–22).

“Faithless and perverse generation” recalls Moses’ indictment of the wayward Israelites: “They are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deuteronomy 32:5). Diastrephō, the Greek verb rendered perverse, alludes to distortion or turning away. One paraphrase interprets Jesus’ depiction as “an unbelieving and difficult people.”

lunatic: mentally ill or confused
perverse: stubbornly wrong
generation: group of people, usually those born and living at the same time
suffer: put up with; tolerate
hence: from this place
yonder place: a distance away; another location

from Section 6

21 | Galatians 6:2, 9

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. . . . And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Translation

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you truly obey the law of Christ. . . . We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up!

—International Children’s Bible

Translated burdens here, the Greek noun baros describes heavy encumbrances. (It is distinct from phortion, used in verse 5 to indicate more normal loads.) In this passage, burdens are seen figuratively as sin, sorrow, and suffering—troubles that call for care and love among believers.

A scholar writes, “. . . those who have received the Spirit and have been set free from the Mosaic law actually fulfill the requirements of the Mosaic law (see Rom 8:4) summed up in the single command ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’! Christlike, Spirit-empowered love fulfills the law.” 

22 | Matthew 11:28–30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Translation

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”

—New Century Version

Zygos is the Greek word for the yoke put on draft animals. It represents bondage or servitude, and can imply as well a way of getting work done or sharing a load. To Jews listening to Jesus, a yoke is a symbol of submission to Torah requirements. Later, Jesus censures Hebrew leaders: “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (23:4). Now the Savior guides his followers to teachings free of the religious strictures of the Pharisees. 

Easy is translated from the adjective khrēstos, which can signify well-fitting. A Bible expert offers this explanation: “In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. . . . The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor made to fit the ox. . . . What [Jesus] means is: ‘The life I give you is not a burden to gall you; your task is made to measure to fit you.’ ”

23 | Hebrews 12:12, 13

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Translation

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

—New Living Translation

24 | Philippians 2:13

It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Translation

God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes.

—Common English Bible

from Section 7

26 | I Peter 5:6, 7

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Translation

Be humbled by God’s power so that when the right time comes he will honor you. Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.

—GOD’S WORD Translation


Read a related article, “Progressing in the wilderness” by Elizabeth E. Sweder, at jsh.christianscience.com/progressing-in-the-wilderness.

from the Golden Text

Psalms 55:22

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.

Burden is translated from the Hebrew noun ye hāb, often rendered worries. The author of First Peter echoes this verse in encouraging Christians to “[cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (5:7).

from the Responsive Reading

Luke 12:24, 25, 27, 28

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? . . . Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 

While Matthew’s account refers generically to the “fowls of the air” (Matthew 6:26), Luke specifies ravens. Because they were regarded as among the least valuable of birds—and classed in the Torah as ritually unclean (see Leviticus 11:13, 15)—their mention underscores God’s all-embracing care.

Although thought by some to encompass an array of wildflowers, “lilies” is an accurate and specific term. In the desert, where wood was scarce, dried flowers and grasses were indeed used as fuel.

Luke 12:29–32

Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 

A heavenly kingdom governed by a divine monarch is an idea grounded in ancient Eastern cultures. Most people imagined their gods as having defeated other gods—as reigning supreme in the heavens and overseeing the earthly nations that worshiped them. Experience revealed to the Jews one omnipotent ruler, Yahweh. His kingship is a frequent theme in Hebrew Scripture (see examples in Psalms 5:2Isaiah 33:22). 

In the New Testament, “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” occur one hundred times. Christ Jesus’ teaching elevates the concept from a geographical or political entity to the spiritual kingdom “at hand” and “within you” (Matthew 4:17Luke 17:21).

from Section 1

2 | Nehemiah 9:7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 21

Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; . . . and didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea; . . . And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; . . . Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. . . . And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them. . . . Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing.

Soon after completion of Jerusalem’s wall under Nehemiah’s leadership, the Hebrews gather for a reading of the Torah (see 8:1–8). Then the Levites (members of Israel’s priestly tribe) recount Yahweh’s acts of deliverance and guidance, preparing the people to renew their covenant with Him (see 9:36–38). 

Recitals of Jewish history often begin with the pivotal events surrounding Abram, Israel’s first patriarch (see a New Testament summary in Acts 7:2–47). Ur, his traditional birthplace, was a principal city of southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and a center for the worship of the moon-god Sin. (Chaldees is another term for Chaldeans, residents of Babylonia.) Abram’s God-directed journey out of Ur to Haran and Canaan (see Genesis 11:3112:1–9) launches the Hebrew, Arab, and Edomite nations.

from Section 2

4 | Psalms 40:11, 12

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about.

Some commentaries see a prayer of confidence instead of petition in this passage. Hebrew scholar Robert Alter has, for instance: 

You, Lord, will not hold back
Your mercies from me.
Your steadfast truth
Shall always guard me.
For evils drew round me
Beyond count.

5 | Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

In ancient times, the right side was considered to be the strongest. The right hand was used for swearing oaths, the right eye was deemed the most vital part of the body, and the seat to the right of a host was the seat of honor. The imagery of God’s right hand appears throughout Scripture, representing divine might and majesty (see example in Exodus 15:6).

Yea can signify yes, moreover, or also. Here, as in hundreds of biblical statements, it conveys certainty and affirmation (see other instances in Genesis 17:15, 16Psalms 16:6II Corinthians 1:20).

8 | II Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Addressed to Paul’s young disciple Timothy, this assertion identifies four qualities that define the Christian: courage, power, love, and self-control. Of courage and self-control, a scriptural authority points out: “. . . courage comes from the continual consciousness of the presence of Christ . . . . It is Christ alone who can give us that self-mastery which will keep us alike from being swept away and from running away.”

from Section 3

10 | Psalms 92:13, 14

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.

Building on a tree metaphor from verse 12, the Psalmist commends deep-rooted commitment to God as the key to growth and prosperity. “The righteous are able to take root, grow, and be fruitful,” one source reflects, “because God is both their foundation and their constant source of nourishment.”

Although the Temple in Jerusalem, including the courtyards in the Temple compound, was viewed as God’s house (see I Kings 9:1Nehemiah 8:16), here “courts of our God” describes the kingdom of heaven.

from Section 4

15 | Matthew 15:32–38

Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. 

A basic food in ancient times, bread was considered a gift from God and a daily reminder of His continuous love. This story beautifully demonstrates the abundance of that spiritual gift. Later, the Savior identifies himself as the “bread of God,” the “bread of life,” and the “living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:33, 35, 51), elevating the symbol of bread to the understanding of God that is essential to life.

from Section 5

20 | Matthew 17:14–20

When they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

In Mark’s record, Jesus likewise laments his disciples’ faithlessness. But there his response to their question is, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Matthew, in contrast, focuses his account on faith. A commentary suggests, “The faith in which they come up short is the trust in God’s power that facilitates the extraordinary feats of the Christian mission . . . .”

On another occasion, Jesus replies to the apostles’ request to increase their faith, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6). The Master also speaks about mountain-moving faith after his withering of the fig tree (see Matthew 21:19–22).

“Faithless and perverse generation” recalls Moses’ indictment of the wayward Israelites: “They are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deuteronomy 32:5). Diastrephō, the Greek verb rendered perverse, alludes to distortion or turning away. One paraphrase interprets Jesus’ depiction as “an unbelieving and difficult people.”

from Section 6

21 | Galatians 6:2, 9

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. . . . And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Translated burdens here, the Greek noun baros describes heavy encumbrances. (It is distinct from phortion, used in verse 5 to indicate more normal loads.) In this passage, burdens are seen figuratively as sin, sorrow, and suffering—troubles that call for care and love among believers.

A scholar writes, “. . . those who have received the Spirit and have been set free from the Mosaic law actually fulfill the requirements of the Mosaic law (see Rom 8:4) summed up in the single command ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’! Christlike, Spirit-empowered love fulfills the law.” 

22 | Matthew 11:28–30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Zygos is the Greek word for the yoke put on draft animals. It represents bondage or servitude, and can imply as well a way of getting work done or sharing a load. To Jews listening to Jesus, a yoke is a symbol of submission to Torah requirements. Later, Jesus censures Hebrew leaders: “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (23:4). Now the Savior guides his followers to teachings free of the religious strictures of the Pharisees. 

Easy is translated from the adjective khrēstos, which can signify well-fitting. A Bible expert offers this explanation: “In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. . . . The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor made to fit the ox. . . . What [Jesus] means is: ‘The life I give you is not a burden to gall you; your task is made to measure to fit you.’ ”


Read a related article, “Progressing in the wilderness” by Elizabeth E. Sweder, at jsh.christianscience.com/progressing-in-the-wilderness.

Resources quoted in this issue

Cit. 4: Alter, Robert. The Hebrew Bible, Vol. 3, The Writings: A Translation with Commentary. New York and London. W.W. Norton & Company, 2019.

Cit. 8: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

Cit. 10: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 3, Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms, Introduction to Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 20: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 7, The Gospels and Narrative Literature, Jesus and the Gospels, Matthew, Mark. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015; The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J.B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by permission.

Cit. 21: Osborne, Grant R., et al., eds. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Vol. 9, Galatians. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 1990–. Also available at biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries.

Cit. 22: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

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