I had been praying all week, asking God to give me words of encouragement for this week’s blog. Several thoughts had come to mind, but nothing definite took hold until the morning of writing day. I literally opened my eyes, and a verse I had read earlier in the week rushed over me. All I could say was, “Thank you, Lord.” The topic was confirmed for me when I sat down to enter my quiet time. I opened my journal to the VERY page I had written on this verse days earlier. I smiled, knowing God was not messing around.
I imagine you are wondering what verse I am referring to! I’m actually choosing to focus on three well-known verses, precious words spoken by Jesus in the Book of Matthew. With familiar verses we (at least I do) run the risk of skimming over the words and potentially missing God’s message. This week I took a deeper dive into these verses, and it felt like I hit a gold mind.
There are so many truths in this short passage it is impossible to adequately unpack it all in a single blog! I suspect entire books have been written on these few verses! Nevertheless, I want to share my takeaways. I encourage you to treasure these words of Jesus in your heart, meditate on them, and allow the Holy Spirit, our teacher, to minister deeply to your soul in a way only HE can.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
It all starts with the invitation, “Come to me.” Soak that in for a moment. The God of the universe reaches out to each one of us and says, “Come.” There are no strings attached. You don’t have to earn your way; you simply have to come. Jesus was speaking in this setting to people who had heard His words, witnessed His miracles, and observed His power; however, they still chose to reject him. When Jesus said, “Come to me,” He meant, “Believe in who I claim to be and what I am able to do for you.”
Jesus’ invitation is a call to salvation that He alone can answer. He knows He can meet any need we have, so He simply offers us Himself. Coming to Jesus means personally trusting and putting our faith in Him. We don’t come to Him by obeying rules, following family traditions, performing religious rituals, or serving others. Falling into the trap of trying to be “good enough” is a tremendous burden to carry. When Jesus called for those who were weary and carry heavy burdens to come to Him, He knew they were exhausted from trying to follow all the rules created by religious leaders. They were weighed down with guilt and shame, never feeling good enough. He wanted to take this burden from them and give them rest.
Here is my concern. How many of us fall into this same trap? We have come to Jesus for salvation, but then we become weary trying to be good enough. We try to play the Christian game in our own strength through our own efforts. Trust me—this isn’t restful. It is fatiguing and robs us of rest. Rest is a divine gift from God, but it is conditional. Read the verse again from the Amplified version.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”
Did you see the conditions we must meet? Come. Take. Learn. REST!
Coming to Jesus, putting our faith and trust in Him, will give us rest in our salvation, but experiencing rest in our daily lives requires more. To “take” the yoke of Christ is to hook ourselves to Him as a disciple. We become his student—learning, growing, and maturing as a believer. As educators we know what it means to be a learner. Our best students have a thirst for knowledge, are open to correction, obey us, and trust us to teach truth. Unlike us, however, Jesus doesn’t leave His job and go home at night. He sticks around, offering us rest as long as we remain with Him. This is why Jesus tells us to abide in Him because apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). I like how Jon Bloom describes this act of taking the yoke of Jesus.
Believe and abide: that really is all the work God requires of us. Faith (believing and abiding) is resting on the hopeful promises of God. That is the yoke Jesus calls us to put on. Believe, abide, and follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). That’s the light yoke Jesus calls us to put on. It is the only yoke in existence that gives us rest for our souls. (1)
Here comes the part of the verse that leaves me in awe: For I am gentle and humble in heart. As our teacher, our Savior, Jesus will not oppress us. He doesn’t use manipulation or coercion. He is not harsh or filled with pride. Jesus has a servant’s heart. He will be gentle with us. Some translations refer to this as meekness (i.e., keeping His power under control). He has no need to prove Himself but to only love us and teach us with humility. I don’t pretend to understand it. How can Jesus, the Son of God, be a servant to us? Talk about humbling! Nevertheless, these character traits help us understand why His yoke is easy and His burden light. How reassuring it is to be yoked with the One who is gentle and humble!
Then comes the promise: You will find rest for your souls. You WILL. No maybe involved here. When we come, there is a promise of rest. Rest from fear, rest from guilt, rest from shame, rest from discouragement, rest from turmoil, rest from defeat…REST.
There is one caveat. Although we will have rest, it doesn’t mean the burdens will go away. Needless to say, that is certainly my preference! However, even if our burdens do not vanish, they do not have to consume us. Jesus promised the weight of our burdens would decrease. Tony Evans gives us a perfect analogy in his commentary on these verses.
A suitcase packed full may be too heavy to carry. But, if the case has wheels, your burden will become lighter though your circumstances haven’t changed. God can put wheels on your burdens so you can deal with them more easily. (2)
Are you feeling weary? Come find rest in the Savior. This is a promise straight from the One who loves you most, Jesus.
Final Note: If you are wondering in your spirit if you have ever truly come to Jesus, don’t wonder anymore. Go to this link: https://tonyevans.org/know-jesus-christ/. Jesus is the only way to find true rest in this life. Don’t wait another minute!