"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
This lesson explains Jesus' invitation in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
This lesson is the third in a series on God's Invitations in the Bible, specifically, the "Comes" of God's word. The first lesson in the series is "Come Now, Let Us Reason Together (Isaiah 1:18)" (Ref. 1). The second lesson is "God's Great Invitation - Come, Satisfy Your Thirst" based on Isaiah 55:1 (Ref. 2).
Consider. What heavy burden is weighing you down today?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden. If you are weary (literally, exhausted from labor), then Jesus' invitation is for you (Ref. 3). If you are weighted down with a heavy burden such as worry, sin, or sorrow, then Jesus' invitation is for you. However, it is not enough just to read about or hear Jesus' words and then do nothing. To receive the rest that Jesus promises, you need to accept his invitation and come to him in faith.
Jesus who says "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden" is the same God who says "Come, everyone who thirsts" (Isaiah 55:1) and "Come now, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus also says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out" (John 6:37).
I will give you rest. Jesus himself is the Rest Giver (Ref. 4). Only Jesus can dispel your fear (John 14:27). Only Jesus can forgive your sin (Mark 2:9-11). Only Jesus can give you peace in your soul and a clean conscience (Numbers 6:24-26, John 14:27, Philippians 4:6-7, Hebrews 10:22). Do you want the rest that only Jesus provides? Then come to Jesus by faith. As soon as you come to Jesus you will get that rest (Ref. 4).
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. HELPS Word-studies defines a yoke as a wooden bar placed over the neck of a pair of animals so they can pull together (see illustration). Figuratively, a yoke is what unites (joins) two people to move (work) together as one (Ref. 5).
Notice that in Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus gives us a two-part summons. Our response to both parts is needed for a full Christian life. In the first part (as we discussed above), Jesus invites us to come to him for pardon, refreshment, and rest. In the second part, Jesus asks us to take on his yoke -- to submit our wills to him, to learn from him, to obey him, to serve him, and to become like him (Ref. 4).
Coming to Jesus is not just a one-time experience -- it is for a lifetime. Coming to Jesus includes willingly taking on the yoke of Jesus by learning from him and serving him the rest of our lives in an ongoing relationship. Are you willing to submit to his yoke?
You will find rest for your souls. Jesus promises that when we take his yoke upon us by accepting his teaching and by serving him that we will find rest for our souls. The Greek word here for rest means inner rest (tranquility) (Ref. 6). Jesus quotes the prophet Jeremiah, "Thus says the Lord: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'" (Jeremiah 6:16).
My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Jesus contrasts his yoke to the heavy burden of minute legal observance that the scribes and Pharisees of that time put on the shoulders of the Jewish people (Matthew 23:1-4, Acts 15:10, Ref. 7). In contrast, Jesus says that "my yoke" (literally, the yoke of Me) "is easy" (gentle, pleasant, kind) "and my burden" (literally, the burden of Me) "is light" (of little weight and easily carried) (Ref. 8, Ref. 9, Ref. 10).
Apply. In prayer, give your heavy burden to Jesus. Receive from him the rest that he promises. Submit your will to him, and willingly receive his yoke of instruction. Serve Jesus gladly, joyfully yoked with him in an ongoing relationship.
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