Posted September 05, 2016
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.
Have you ever wondered what Jesus would say to you if you ran into Him on the street or at a restaurant? How do you envision Him interacting with you? Would He be kind toward you or distant? Would He welcome you in or keep you at bay? Here in Matthew 11, we overhear breathtaking words spoken Jesus who doesn’t keep us at a cold distance but calls us near by simply saying, “Come to me…” We’ll make a couple observations about this invitation and then explore how to enter into the rest He describes.
Come To Me, All
The first observation is that this invitation goes out to all. This is no private party or limited to a couple elite spiritual groups. The only thing needed is an awareness of your need! Are you tired? He invites you in. Are you heavy laden and burdened? Draw near. What does He have for you? Rest. Genuine rest. Not just the partial kind that alleviates for a moment but rather a deeper soul rest. Where we may get hints and tastes of this rest elsewhere, Jesus is the true source of rest we all are looking for.
The second observation is that this invitation to come to Him is by default an invitation away from whatever other places we’ve been looking to for rest or hope or identity. Jesus says, “Whatever it is you were looking for over there, you ultimately will find in me. Come to me, the true Rest-giver…” Note as well that it’s an invitation to come to a Person and not merely a set of intellectual propositions! This invitation is about trusting in Jesus as opposed to anything else we think might save or satisfy.
So how do we find this rest that Jesus offers? By coming out from under any other yoke we’ve found ourselves under and instead coming under his “yoke.” This metaphor is unfamiliar for most of us due to distance from farming techniques as well as technological advances when it comes to agriculture. A yoke is a wooden post or frame that connects two animals, generally oxen, that pulls a heavy load behind it. It seems that most likely Jesus was trying to contrast his yoke with that of the scribes & Pharisees (see Matthew 23:4). Their yoke was burdensome for the work was never over or enough, while His was easy. The scribes and Pharisees laid rules upon rules on those seeking to following the Law in order to earn righteousness and salvation, while Jesus knew we could never accomplish the task, performed the task perfectly in our place, laid down His very life for us, and now calls us to come to Him and trust in His work… To find rest in His finished work, and in turn work from that place! His yoke is easy and burden is light because He is with us, not only paying our debt on the cross, but also empowering us by His Spirit.
The truth is that all of us yoke ourselves to something or someone in this life. Is that yoke burdensome to the point of death, or light and restful? Can the yoke you’re under actually deliver and provide what it claims? Jesus alone is the One who is gentle and lowly in heart, so we can trust Him, and who can offer us true rest, and actually deliver! Though He is King, He is no cruel task master but rather a King who made Himself a servant and laid down His life for us. His heart is kind and His hand is powerful; He is more than trustworthy. Hear him crying out, “Come to me…”
Song by Ryan Delange.
Recording & artwork by Josh Sebren.
Devotional by Joel Limpic.