Rest for the Weary — Matthew 11:28-30

20 Nov

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. {29} 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. {30} For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus spoke to men desperately trying to find God and desperately trying to be good, who were finding the tasks impossible and who were driven to weariness and to despair.

Our age has produced a new malady. It is called “chronic fatigue syndrome.” There is a sense in which all of us suffer from it. If we are nothing else, we are tired. When we come to Christ, we come to One who can give us rest.

A Common Problem — We are all tired from something. Fatigue occasionally overtakes even the strongest among us.  We are tired physically and mentally from the everyday struggle to make ends meet. We are tired emotionally from wrestling with dysfunctional relationships, unrealized dreams, and heartbreaking loss.  Ironically, we are tired spiritually from trying to live up to our faith.

Fatigue can do strange things to us. Vince Lombardi, the great football coach, once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  It can even affect an entire generation, like Israel in the wilderness, who began grumbling. It can break our resolve to go on.

A Comforting Promise—“I will give you rest.”  If just anyone made this promise, we might find it empty. If a politician or even a physician made this promise, we would take it with a grain of salt. There are some things other people just can’t do for us.  But when Jesus makes a promise, we stop and listen. His promises are anything but empty. He has both the integrity and power to deliver on His word. We stake our eternal destinies on the reliability of his promises. We must take this one seriously as well.

A Challenging Prescription—“take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” He says, “My yoke is easy.”  The word easy is in Greek chrestos, which can mean well-fitting.  In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken.  The yoke was then roughed out, and the ox was brought back to have the yoke tried on.  The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast.  The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox.

Jesus’ next words are surprising. We often seek rest by escaping, getting away, relieving ourselves of responsibility. Instead Jesus calls us to a new task. While we are looking for a hammock, Jesus calls us to a yoke! He calls us to find rest by voluntarily placing ourselves under a new burden. Jesus’ words teach us the real cause of fatigue and the nature of true rest.

Jesus says, “My burden is light.”  As a Rabbi had it:  “My burden has become my song.”  It is not that the burden is easy to carry; but it is laid on us in love; it is meant to be carried in love; and love makes even the heaviest burden light.  When we remember the love of God, when we know that our burden is to love God and to love men, then the burden becomes a song. 

The problem with our lives is not that we must work, that we must serve some master, perform some task. The problem is really what “work” we choose to do and whom we choose to serve. The kind of rest Jesus offers is not relief from the tasks necessary to sustain us or even freedom from all of life’s trials. Those early disciples who took Him up on this promise still had to labor for bread and face life’s difficulties. The kind of rest Jesus offers is a peace of mind, a calmness of spirit that comes from knowing our lives are being lived within His will. It is the kind of rest that accompanies a life that is rescued from self-made anxieties and stresses. Even the unavoidable work of meeting basic needs is made less tiring by the reassurance that the Savior is looking after us.


People wear all kinds of “yokes.” Some are slaves to ambition, to greed, to materialism, to lust, to alcohol, to pride and all of its evils. These are the things that truly exhaust us. By placing ourselves under the yoke of the gentle, humble Savior our lives are liberated from the exhaustion of all these things and set free to work purposefully unto true satisfaction and fulfillment.

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Posted by on November 20, 2017 in Encouragement


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