Often life can feel like a heavy burden that’s weighing you down. For students, sometimes the amount of school work and all the activities you have to do can be overwhelming and feel like a heavy yoke. Sometimes difficulty in your marriage or family drama can feel like a heavy yoke. Sometimes the stress on the job, a bad boss, negative co-workers, the business of life and trying to find work/life balance can feel like a heavy yoke. Poor health can feel like a heavy yoke. Sometimes you get overwhelmed by all the negative news on social media and you feel like just unplugging from the whole thing because it’s starting to feel like a heavy yoke. The lifeless routine formalism of your religious experience can sometimes feel like a heavy yoke. Worst of all, the private sin that keeps ensnaring you is a heavy yoke, and it’s weighing you down. And, quite frankly, you’re just tired. You’re emotionally, mental, physically and spiritually tired. All you want is some rest. I mean is it too hard to ask for just a little rest? So how can we find true rest for our weary souls? I believe we can find the answer in Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus has just finished publicly affirming the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. Then Jesus issues some of His strongest woes on some of the cities of Galilee where He did most of His mighty works, because, though He came in the fullness of His grace, they still would not repent from the yoke of their sin. He then thanks God the Father for revealing Himself through Him to those who were responding to His love like little babies. Then in a stunning shift of conversation, Jesus cries out, in verse 28, to anyone who will listen. I wonder if you can hear His penetrating voice say to your soul…
What’s interesting about this beautiful invitation is what it’s subtly implying about those of us with heavy burdens, that are trying to find rest and peace in all sorts of places. We try to find it in relationships, professional fulfillment, addictions or the over indulgent escapism of entertainment or even our devises. If you try to find it here, you’ll be ultimately disappointed, for…
True Rest is found in coming to Jesus alone.
I remember days, both before and after becoming a pastor, where I had to endure negative attitudes and stressful personalities at work. Then I had to brave a long commute in traffic while fighting sleep. And when I finally got home after a rough day, I didn’t feel like checking the mailbox and finding a bill in the mail. I just wanted to come into the house and get a little time to decompress. I wouldn’t change all my close because I just didn’t have the energy. Then due to how I was feeling, I’d start emotionally eating, not because I was necessarily hungry, but I just wanted a snack that would help me feel better. But then after a while that didn’t work, so I’d try to find something decent to watch on TV. Now even though I only had basic cable, I had to scroll through so many channels and after searching for nearly 30 minutes, I’d just give up in frustration, because there was nothing on for me to watch. Then I’d get on Facebook and start scrolling my timeline to see whats going on in the world or in my friends lives. After a while of aimless scrolling, I’d get annoyed, because time was going, I still didn’t feel like I had decompressed and my mind wasn’t at ease. I still hadn’t found rest.
To those of us who have not yet truly found rest, Jesus says come. His invitation is for all. Whether you are religious or not. Whether you are a child or an adult. Whether you are wallowing in shame and guilt or stuck in a downward cycle of sin. He says come. Notice He says “Come to Me…” a Person, not merely attendance at a church service. It’s an invitation into a relationship, not merely a religious system of beliefs. You see, everyone is weary and burdened in their futile attempt to find rest in other things until they come to Christ. The world renowned 3rd century theologian from North Africa, Augustine of Hippo, captures this experience well in this famous quote from his book St. Augustine’s Confessions. He says,
Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in Christ.
When Jesus says He will give you rest, the word in the original language is Sabbath. He’s in essence saying I will give you Sabbath. So is Jesus saying that He will only give your soul rest on the 7th day Sabbath, once a week? Of course not. He is promising a daily rest in Him. Those who will truly enjoy the weekly 7th day Sabbath are those who are resting in Jesus everyday.
Whenever you hear this invitation of Jesus to come and rest, you come. Do not delay! When anxiety, fear, frustration or depression hit, you come to Him and rest. Come to Him when you hear the gospel preached! Come to Him daily through a personal relationship with Him in prayer and the word. Come to Him on the weekly Sabbath and rest!
Ok CJ, I hear you. I need to come to Him and find rest. But when I come, what then? Jesus tells us what to do in verse 29…