I can’t think of anything that Jesus said that is as life-changing or hope-giving as what we read in In the following verses.
“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).
Seriously, were there ever any more wonderful words spoken than these? I don’t believe that I’m overstating the case when I ask that question. This is not make believe. This is reality. To weak and weary and worn out souls, wearied by life and fearful of death, Jesus says: “Come to Me. Learn from Me. I’ll give you rest, both now and forever. Not just rest, but joyful, peaceful rest for your souls. If you’ll come to Me, I’ll never harm you. The burden that I put on your shoulders is easy because I will provide whatever strength you need to bear it. Come to Me, and find peace in place of fear, and hope in place of despair, and forgiveness to overcome guilt, and acceptance instead of rejection, strength in place of weakness. Come to Me.”
Like I said, were ever more wonderful words spoken than these? What a glorious invitation!!!
Think of it like this. Look at religious life where you live today. By the way, everyone is religious. Even those who never darken the door of a church are religious. Their “god” is their flesh. They worship at the altar of self-fulfillment. Whether or not men and women spend Sundays at church or in bed or on a golf course, they are all seeking “rest” for their souls. So, look at religious life where you live. What you’ll see is rich people and poor people, ignorant and well-educated, people of all races and places in life, laboring in endless ways to win the favor of whatever “god” they believe in and hoping against hope that what they “worship” will finally bring rest to their souls.
Jesus did not come simply to replace the futile efforts of one religion with the successful efforts of another. But He came to fulfill on our behalf the very demands that God’s holiness and law place upon us, and to give us everlasting rest!
This comforting passage is rich and deep. Let’s look at it by asking some questions.
To whom is this invitation given?
To whom is the invitation given? “All!” But “all” does not mean everyone, but only those who meet the qualification. And the only qualification is a recognition of their despair and need and that Jesus alone can meet it!
The only qualification is that you acknowledge that you have no qualification. Confess that you don’t have the energy to do anything in your own power pleasing to God. Admit that all your attempts to qualify have accomplished nothing but total spiritual and emotional exhaustion.
The only requirement is that those who come to Jesus must recognize their need for help and be willing to embrace His yoke and learn from Him.
The weariness of which Jesus speaks isn’t physical. The burden you labor under isn’t financial. Rich people and Olympic athletes can come. This is spiritual and moral weariness.
Jesus is inviting the woman with three kids whose husband just received a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
Jesus is calling to Himself the teenager who just lost her best friend in a tragic car accident.
The person invited to come is the man whose investments just lost it all.
Jesus is inviting the pastor who is burned out from ritual and rejection by his congregation.
This invitation is extended to the atheist for whom angry denials of God’s existence have left him empty and wandering.
Jesus is calling to those whose experience in life has not matched up with their expectations of God.
I want you to consider all who responded to this call. See how different they were: prostitutes, tax collectors, Pharisees, shepherds, shop-keepers, men, women, young and old, soldiers, political leaders, blind beggars, rich merchants. It appears that they have nothing in common outside of the only thing that really matters: a sense of spiritual weariness and total desperation for Jesus to bring them rest!
Come to “Me” says Jesus. Don’t go to a place. Come to a person. You can’t find what you need at a conference or in a program or in a recovery group. Neither will you find it in the temple in the first century or in a church building in 21st.
Come to “Me”, Jesus Christ, son of David, Son of God, savior of the world. If you go to Buddha, Mohammed, or merely another religious leader, you won’t find rest, but only another long list of rules to keep and conditions to meet and standards to reach. Don’t go to a philosophy, a movement, or a political party. Don’t come to a formula for success or a way to gain popularity or a revival meeting that promises power or a ritual that brags of historical lineage. Come to Jesus!
What does it mean to “come” to Jesus?
“Come” is a command. That means there must be a response on our part if the promise is to be fulfilled. The rest Jesus offers does not come automatically or everybody. Only those who obey the command will receive.
What does it mean to “come”? This is not a physical act. This has nothing to do with walking an aisle or raising a hand or even praying a prayer. A beggar can come as easily as a movie star. To come is to “believe”. But what must you believe? What are we being asked to trust?
That Jesus is who He claims to be. That Jesus has accomplished once and for all what He came to accomplish. That Jesus will do in the future what He promises to do. That Jesus only can satisfy our desire for rest in a way no one else and no other thing can. That Jesus is a prize more precious and valuable than all earthly wealth or political power or earthly fame.
So, “coming” means trusting that Jesus will satisfy your heart’s desire and longing.
Coming also means “leaving”. You can’t come to Jesus without leaving everything and everyone else. To believe Him is to proclaim all others to be liars and incapable of satisfying your need for rest. They claim to give you rest. To come to Jesus is to deny those offers.
So, to come is to trust Him to satisfy your soul’s cry for rest. To come is a whole heart embrace of Jesus as Lord. To come is to forsake your confidence in intellect, money, achievement, others, and in yourself. To come is to prize Him and to treasure Him and to value Him and to hold Him above all else as most worthy of praise and honor and glory.
“Believe me,” says Jesus. “Say yes to who I am. Cast your future hopes and dreams on me. Invest your one life in following Me.”
Why would anyone not “come” to Jesus to receive what He offers? Because “they are slaves to themselves for other things”.
When you hear this call and don’t feel compelled to come:
Cry out to God that He would give you spiritual eyes to see Jesus as altogether beautiful.
Pray that God would give you spiritual ears to hear the truth that in Christ alone are all the treasures of life and wisdom.
Cry out to God that He would give you new desires that you might taste the sweetness of His forgiveness and His presence and the hope of eternal life.
Earlier Jesus had invited the disciples to follow “after” Him. Here, however, He calls them to come “to” Him This, is not so much a call to discipleship as it is a call to intimacy with Christ.
Tomorrow we will finish with part 2.