We all live in a busy and troublesome world. Children strive to present themselves as “likeable” in this selfie world. While some students labor to build their resume as “compelling” in this competitive world, other students labor to come out of their sins and addictions in this lost and decaying world. Some even labor to come out of social isolation and depression in this therapeutic world. While some adults labor to climb the corporate ladder, others still labor to find out their purpose in life. While some parents carry the burden of their children’s salvation or the restoration of their wandering children, others carry the burden of their aging parents. Old people are burdened with concerns about physical and financial health. No one is exempt from the toils of this world. No one is exempt from the weariness of life. For this reason, Jesus says:
“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).
From Jesus’ words, we see at least three marvelous truths.
1. The Gracious Invitation
Come to me. This is a gracious invitation. To whom is this gracious invitation given? This gracious invitation is given to all. Particularly this invitation is given to all who labor and are heavy-laden, to those who are weary and burdened, and to those who are discouraged and frustrated.
Are you carrying a load of sin? Are you carrying a load of sorrow? Are you carrying a load of anxiety? Are you carrying a load of regret? Are you carrying a load of failure? Enough of carrying the heavy load by yourself. Just come to Jesus. You don’t need to unburden your load in order to come to Jesus. Your labor and heavy load qualify you to come to Jesus. In John 6:37, Jesus says, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Isn’t this marvelous? Isn’t this encouraging? He will never cast out anyone who comes to him.
What will happen to you if you come to Jesus? He has something glorious to offer. Let’s look at what Jesus has to offer.
2. The Glorious Offer
If you come to Jesus responding to his gracious invitation, you will receive his glorious offer, that is, rest. The glorious offer for those who labor and are heavy laden, who are weary and burdened, who are discouraged and frustrated, who are troubled and broken, is rest.
I would like to make two important observations here. First, his glorious offer, that is, the rest that Jesus offers is a gift. Jesus says, “I will give you rest.” You don’t have to offer anything to Jesus in order to receive this gift. It’s a free gift. The one-time transaction of Jesus Christ on the cross makes this glorious offer a free gift. You need not or cannot buy this gift, you can only receive it.
Second, his glorious offer is not just rest for your bodies but rest for your souls. In Matthew 11:28-30, twice Jesus talks about rest. When Jesus mentions rest the second time, he says, “you will find rest for your souls.” This glorious offer has a promise for now, that is, rest for your bodies in the midst of labor, toil, pain, and suffering, and a promise for the future, that is, rest for your souls. The rest that Jesus offers now does not imply complete cessation from labor. We will labor now, but we will have satisfaction, joy, meaning, and purpose in our labor. The promise for the future is eternal rest in the glorious presence of God. We will have thorns-free, thistles-free, and sweat-free labor and the sabbath-rest in the presence of God.
Come to Jesus – this is a gracious invitation. You will find rest for your souls – this is a glorious offer. Finally, let’s look at what kind of person is inviting everyone and offering rest.
3. The Gentle Savior
Matthew 11:29 describes Jesus as the gentle Savior. It is the only place in Scripture where Jesus tells about his own heart. He is not harsh and haughty in heart. He is not rude and arrogant in heart. He is gentle and lowly in heart. In other words, he is meek and humble in heart. This is who he is for those who come to him. Jesus is the most gentle, meek, and humble person you would ever meet in your life.
Jesus is the most gentle, meek, and humble person you would ever meet in your life.
What does the present rest that the Gentle Savior offers look like? In verse 29, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke is a heavy crossbar laid on two oxen. It ties two oxen together. You may be saying to yourself now, “Are you kidding me?” Am I supposed to take a yoke after coming to Jesus?
First, in verse 30, Jesus is not saying that my yoke is difficult and my burden is heavy, rather Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” To put it simply, Jesus says, my yoke is non-yoke and my burden is non-burden. J.C. Ryle beautifully puts it: “His yoke is no more a burden than the feathers are to a bird.” He has already lifted a heavy burden on the cross. I don’t have to lift a heavy burden. You don’t have to either.
Second, you are not pulling his yoke on your own. He who is in you is greater, stronger, and mightier than he is in the world. He is our gentle savior. He is not a hard taskmaster. The strength of another with a gentle heart pulls the load with you. To be yoked to the Son of God is the greatest possible gift for anyone who is pulling a heavy load. The strength comes to you as you are yoked together with Christ.
To be yoked to the Son of God is the greatest possible gift for anyone who is pulling a heavy load.
Third, Jesus is not just asking you to take his yoke upon you, but he is also asking you to learn from him. You are yoked together with Christ. It’s going to be a life-long journey of leaning on him and learning from him. It’s going to be a sweet communion with him. You will talk to him about the load you are carrying, about your suffering, your anxieties, worries, and fears. He will talk to you, and you will get the help you need. You will draw strength from him.
Coming to Jesus is just the beginning of something glorious which you will experience in your life. As you read this, I want to ask this question: Would you come to Jesus, the Gentle Savior today? Christ’s arms are wide outstretched. He displays his perfect patience to you so that you will come to him for both present rest and eternal rest. Even though it’s given to you, you must receive it. And unless this transaction takes place, what the Gentle Savior offers you has no effect.