The Weight of the World

A Common Expression

There is an expression that is commonly used, saying that someone “has the weight of the world on their shoulders.” This expression conveys the idea of someone so weighed down with great concerns it is an almost overwhelming burden. It is possible that this expression came from the ancient Greek mythological story of Atlas, who (depending on the account) was bound to carry the world, the sky, or the heavens on his shoulders.

For some, such an expression may be quite fitting. There have been many persons in history, especially leaders of nations and empires, whose authority caused the influence of great numbers of people. The “weight” of the office of the Presidency of the United States, for instance, is a heavy one due to great number of people possibly affected by every decision a president makes.

The Ultimate Example

However, if we are looking for the ultimate example of a person who truly did carry the “weight of the world” upon His shoulders, there is only One true answer. Jesus Christ’s coming to this earth; His life, death, and resurrection are the focal point of all of human history, for it was God’s ultimate purpose to bring about all concerning Jesus. There have been individuals throughout history in a unique position to change the entire world, but only Jesus Christ carried the burden of all mankind.

The Hebrew writer describes Jesus as having had sacrificed Himself “once and for all” (7:27, NASU). By the offering of His own blood, He “obtained eternal redemption” once and for all (9:12). What this means is that, on that fateful night as He was hanged upon the cross, Jesus literally took upon not just the “weight of the world” but the weight of mankind’s entire sin.

Man cannot attempt to comprehend what kind of a burden this must have been. We cannot feel the true burden of our own sin while still limited by physicality, and will only feel its true weight if we die without Christ and face eternal hell. The burden we bear is one of guilt, of shame, or of pain at the separation from God. Once our sin is removed through obedience to the Gospel, our burden is literally lifted, having never felt its full force.

A Contrast

Contrast that with Jesus on the cross. He bore not a physical burden, but the spiritual burden of the compounded sins of every person who has lived, is alive, and will ever live – all at once. Even the physical weight of the world itself cannot measure up to what Jesus bore freely for an undeserving mankind. So, the next time you meet someone who is overwhelmed, or perhaps you yourself are feeling that the “weight of the world” is upon you, remember what Jesus chose to bear so you would never have to.

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