Matthew 11: Walking with Jesus in the Gospels
"An Easy Yoke" Matthew 11:28-30 are easily some of my favorite verses in the gospels. The invitation to cast off burdens and find true soul rest from Christ whose heart is gentle and lowly is one that I will RSVP to time and time again. The labor and burdens of life are exhausting, but they were never intended to be borne on our shoulders. I love Christ’s call to Himself and that it is open to us whether we create our own burden (labor), or the burden is foisted upon us by someone else. Either way, Christ is not the source of the burden, but rather He has acted for us to relieve us of the burden upon us.
First, we must look at the context. The preceding verses address the unbelief and the unwillingness of those to whom much was given and to whom much was demonstrated. He states that their burden of judgment will be great, in fact greater than some of the most wicked people known in biblical history, Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. Jesus states that had they seen what was shown to Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin they would have believed early on and still be standing today. Jesus further speaks to these cities that they could not believe because of their own self-righteousness and because He would not reveal Himself to them. Then, His very next words are His invitation to come to Him and find rest. Come learn of Him. Come discover His heart. Come bear His yoke. If we refuse His beckon call, we will surely bear our burden to the end, even to Hades (vs. 23). This “coming to Christ” requires a response of desperation, dependence, and humility. We acknowledge we must come because of our helplessness.
Back to His invitation. I want to focus on just a few words. He makes the invitation to ALL who are laboring and heavy laden. Who is not laboring under some burden? What is the burden you bear today? Burdens, in part, are the ways in which we attempt to fix ourselves and world that is around us. We do this to ourselves as we try to straighten out our lives and its surroundings. Others do this to us as they add to our burden with tips for living successfully and how to gain control. How do you describe your burden? Is it physical weakness, relationships, children, parents, job, ministry, anxiety, etc.? The load for each of us varies, but the load for each of is great. We work under these burdens attempting to do what we were never intended to do. So, He invites ALL of us to come to Him.
CHRIST makes this invitation. He does not push this off onto some other individual, but He calls us to bring it to Him. He is the deposit for our burden. He is the One who has satisfies the demands of the burdens that we vainly carry. He is the One who offers rest. He exchanges our unmanageable burden for His yoke, His heart, and His burden. We exchange our burden for His yoke. He is already managing the load and we are invited to join with Him as He carries the weight. We join with Him, trusting His finished work. In CHRIST we find rest in exchange for our weariness.
LEARN of me. Part of the reason we are laboring so much and bearing so much is because we do not know Him. His lifting our burden from our shoulders is done so with the loving revelation of Himself to us. He is telling us that we were not designed to carry these burdens let alone carry them alone. He does not say He will carry our burdens for us, but rather He is teaching us that our burdens are not really burdens to be borne by us. He is teaching us a new way to live that involves learning about His heart. We learn that He is gentle and lowly. He comes in kindness for those who receive Him rather than judgment. He comes to serve rather than to be served. He is not looking to get something from us, but He is looking to give to us. He is restoring wholeness and oneness with Him and the Father. But we must be willing to give up our precious cargo in exchange for LEARNING of Him.
REST for our soul. This is my favorite phrase in this passage. Just speaking it seems to reach down to the innermost part of my being, the part of me that seems to always be longing and craving. It is the part of me that never seems to truly rest. Jesus is committing to meet our deepest cravings, desires, and restlessness. He is the one that truly satisfies us because in Him the Father is fully satisfied with us. It is only in Him that we find REST for the restless soul.
There is one thing we must do to find this soul rest. We must come to Him. We come in faith trusting that He will do as He says in His invitation to us. Will you come and find rest in Jesus today? Will you give up on your efforts to restore what is broken because in Christ all is already restored? Come unto Jesus.