“ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
One of the greatest needs of mankind is simply just to rest. In spite of the economic and technological marvels of the modern era, never has life been so hectic and restless as it is today. At the same time, the pursuit of pleasure has intensified like never before, pleasure that gives a false sense of rest, a temporary relief at best.
Into a weary world that is stressed beyond exertion, comes an invitation from Jesus Christ to come to Him for rest. It is a call to all who labor and are heavy laden with burdens too heavy to bear. Christ confronts us with an offer: He will give us the rest we seek.
But we need to come to Him, and take His yoke upon us. Absolute allegiance is required. If we are to be yoked to Christ, we are to put ourselves under His instruction and teaching. A yoke takes only two — the teacher and the follower, so to be yoked to Christ is to forsake other teachings, to cleave to Him, and learn from Him.
How does Jesus give us this rest?
First, there is the rest of forgiveness. When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are justified by faith and obtain peace with God. When confronted with our past failures, shortcomings and sins that are beyond our own ability to rectify, we have the assurance that Christ has borne our guilt and sinfulness by His death on the cross, and paid the price for it all. He gives us rest from our conscience, rest from within. The rest of forgiveness.
Second, Christ gives us a new life as a result of being born again into the Kingdom of God. The new birth is not simply a moral teaching or moral effort: it is a miracle wherein Christ gives us His own nature; we become like Him. Christ gives us the rest that comes with a new nature, a new understanding and outlook in life, and a renewed mind.
Third, Christ promises to give us the Holy Spirit through Whom we receive the power and the strength to live this new life. We become partakers of the divine nature: God dwells in and within us, transforming and enabling us to do even those things that may seem impossible to the outside world.
True rest comes when our souls are at rest. Jesus Christ gives this true rest as our souls find our rest in God, a rest which Christ alone can offer as a free gift.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ only asks you one thing. Do you need rest? Have you failed to find it, are you desperately in need of it? Well if so, come!” 1
C. H. Spurgeon, “Rest, Rest”, A Sermon delivered on the Lord’s Day January 8, 1871 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, UK
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Heart of the Gospel, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1991, pp. 154-192
1 Ibid., p. 186
*** Photography: Heron by Preston Manning