Posted by: rcottrill | November 7, 2012

Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary

Words: John M. Moore (b. Sept. 1, 1925)
Music: John M. Moore

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (John Moore)

Note: The story of how this song came to be written is told on the Wordwise Hymns link. It is likely the best known of over one hundred and fifty that Pastor Moore has written over the years.

The word “burden” speaks of many things: a load that is carried, a wearying weight, an affliction, an obligation of some kind, something that holds us down or holds us back. The Bible speaks of many different kinds of burdens. Life itself can be a burden at times. The things that happen to us, the responsibilities–either assumed by ourselves or put upon us by others.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the afflictions of our weak mortal bodies as a burden, and as a reason why Christians look forward to the resurrection bodies we will one day have (II Cor. 5:4; cf. Phil. 3:20-21). Our earthly labours also can be a burden, when we realize that whatever is gained in a material sense by our efforts will be left behind at death.

“What has man for all his labour, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity” (Ecc. 2:22-23).

Even Christian service can be a burden. Yes, it is a joy to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but that does not mean it’s easy, or that there are no obstacles or challenges to be faced. Paul speaks of the daily burden of his “deep concern for all the churches” (II Cor. 11:28), churches that he had planted, or visited, or corresponded with. (His prayer list must have been a long one!) And he writes to the Corinthian church:

“We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life (II Cor. 1:8).

As believers, we ought to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). That “law” is likely the one that the Lord Jesus gave in the Upper Room Discourse, just before He went to the cross: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are to seek to emulate the self-sacrificing agape love of Christ, and thus become burden bearers (agape being the Greek word used of Christ-like love).

In addition to human help with our burdens, there is the help of God, accessible through prayer. We are told, “Cast your burden on the LORD” (Ps. 55:22). The One seated at the right hand of the Father has experienced the burdens of life, and through Him we can “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

Friends can be a help to us in many ways. However, there is one particular burden for which the Lord has the only answer. No other person can bear our burden of sin. David describes the crushing weight of it.

“There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Ps. 38:3-4; cf. 32:3-5).

Beyond all the other burdens of life, how much more is it necessary for us to recognize our Saviour as the supreme Burden Bearer, bearing the weight of all our sins on the cross of Calvary.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (I Pet. 2:24).

For the burdens of life, the burdens of Christian service, and for the very burden of our sin, the Lord has provided an abundant answer. And there is a sense in which, whatever the burden, that answer begins at the cross of Christ. There He provided the means of access to the throne of grace to which we can bring all our burdens.

Though John Moore had the original inspiration for his song when he was privileged to lead a burdened sinner to the Saviour, his song makes a wider application to all the burdens of life.

Days are filled with sorrow and care,
Hearts are lonely and drear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

1) What burden are you carrying today that you need to bring to the Lord?

2) What burden is someone you know carrying that you can help to relieve by being a burden bearer?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (John Moore)


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