“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus refers to the Jews who are burdened with the numerous laws that they had to follow, which were made more complex by the additions of the Pharisees, forced to labour so that they could be pleasing in God‘s sight. Jesus invites them to come to him, that they may put down their loads, and through him gain salvation. Matthew 11:28-30 has often been referred to by many believers in times of exhaustion and stress – indeed, in Christ we can find our resting place. Today we will focus on vese 28 alone, the overarching concept of gaining rest through Christ Jesus.
Every time Jesus says ‘Come‘, there is power. When Lazarus lay dead in the cave, Jesus said come out [John 11:43], and he came out. When Jesus said come, Peter gained strength and stepped onto the water [Matthew 14:29]. When Jesus says come, it is not only an instruction filled with authority, it is also a promise, an assurance, a hope. When Jesus calls for those who were tired to come to him, it is not just an instruction that we should follow as robots. Behind his authority, there is the assurance and promise that he will take our load upon his own shoulders, and we will be relieved. There is the confident hope and expectation that he will surely give us rest, and we will find peace in him. It is through Christ that we gain our salvation. Likewise, it is through Christ that we gain an intimate relationship with God. Through Christ, we can have God‘s love, hope, peace and all the goodness.
Analysis: Weary and Burdened
Christ‘s invitation is to those who are weary and burdened. That’s akin to inviting everybody, isn’t it? Which of the Jews listening to Christ then wasn’t weary and burdened of one thing or another? Which of us today are free from weariness and burdens? None, if we understand what wears us out and burdens us. As sinners, the weight of our iniquity wears down on us; the guilt of our wrongdoings is a load on our hearts. Even as Christians, the constant temptation of the accuser [Rev 12:10] and the oppression of non-believers around us serve as a form of stress to us. Come to me, says Jesus, and there will be pardon, there will be relief, there will be sanctification, there will be peace. God says, I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint [Jeremiah 31:25]. You will find rest.
If we are physically tired, we would sleep, or take a break from whatever work we are doing. What if we are spiritually tired? Emotionally tired? What would we do?
The rest in Christ Jesus that is promised is spiritual rest, a greater form of rest that transcends over the physical rest. Physical rest we can probably gain on our own, by sleeping, or by taking a break. But a rest that has peace – peace of conscience, an ease of mind? Free of worries, free of stress? Tranquility of soul, serenity of the spirit? We can only find it through Christ. A true sinner will never be free from the burdens and guilts caused by the law – because we cannot help but sin, and we know we’re sinning. But Christ has offered to be our reprieve. In Him we can be purified and sanctified, and our troubled hearts can come to rest. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Phil 4:6-7|Article|Article]
Perhaps you are overworking, and you feel an immense load weighing down in your heart. You are so busy you don’t have time to go to church, don’t have time to read your Bible, don’t have time to pray. Or perhaps you are so spiritually tired that you’ve just lost the heart to do so.
Not everyone may agree with me, but I’d like to push the case that going to Jesus isn’t supposed to be tiring. Reading God‘s words isn’t supposed to be tiring – it’s supposed to give you rest. Praying to God isn’t supposed to exhaust you, it’s supposed to energise you. Going to church isn’t supposed to be a burden – it’s supposed to free you. In Isaiah 28:12, God told the Israelites that this is the resting place, let the weary rest and this is the place of repose – but they would not listen. Isaiah 28:13 concludes, so then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there — so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. Let us not mix Jesus up with the rest of the worldly things we’re obliged to do and are burdened in doing. Let us not allow our faith to become a ritual, or we will only fall further away from God.
Jesus had already given us the invitation. He had already said, come.
But are we going to Him?