- - - - - - - - - -
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I used to think of this verse as an invitation to weary Christians: come to Jesus and lay your daily burdens down. And it is probably still that. But it is also much more than that: It is THE GOSPEL. In a nutshell from Jesus Himself. Right there in Matthew 11. (All quotes in this post from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible.)
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened... (NIV)
All you who labor and are heavy laden... (NKJV)
This is not just being exhausted from the burden of life, but more specifically the burden of SIN, "both the guilt and the power of it." Jesus is calling to all those "that are really sick of their sins, weary of the service of the world and of the flesh" to come to Him! "This is the gospel call." One must reach the point of acknowledging their sin, being fed up with their sin, and ready to turn from their sin--all on Jesus' terms.
I will give you rest. (NIV)
I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. (AMPC)
Jesus gives true rest--not rest from our busy schedules or frantic relationships or stressful situations. Jesus gives "rest from the terror of sin, in a well-grounded peace of conscience; rest from the power of sin, in a regular order of the soul; a rest in God, in His love." This is a soul-rest, not a situational-rest. And soul-rest comes from Jesus Alone.
Take My yoke upon you. (NIV)
But wait, Jesus! A yoke is a symbol of servitude and work. Do You really mean for us to pick up another burden? You just said that You were going to give us soul-rest from the burden of sin. But notice how the entire phrase turns on the word MY: whose yoke is it? My yoke. Jesus' yoke. "The rest He promises is a release from the drudgery of sin, not [release] from the service to God--[there is still] an obligation to the duty we owe Him."
My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (NIV)
Useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious and pleasant... (AMPC)
This is where Jesus makes sure to "qualify the hard part of the lesson"--further detail about this coming/soul-resting/yoke-bearing life that the gospel offers.
First, it is an easy yoke. "It is a yoke that is lined with love." Those who walk closely with Jesus know first-hand the joy of carrying Jesus' yoke. They have learned that "it may be a little hard at first, but it is easy afterwards; the love of God and the hope of heaven will make it easy."
Second, it is a light burden. We do not carry alone: "God's presence, Christ's sympathy, and especially the Spirit's aids and comforts make suffering for Christ light and easy. . . . [T]hough we may lose for Christ, we shall not lose by Him." He is forever faithful and present.
Learn from Me (NIV)
Third and final qualifier of this hard lesson is the promise that Jesus is our Teacher. He asks us to take up His yoke and in the very same breath promises that we can learn from Him. Henry observes that "we must so learn of Christ, so as to learn Christ, for He is both Teacher and Lesson, Guide and Way, and All in All."
For I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. (AMPC)
There are two reasons why we must learn from Christ. First, He is the most fit to teach. "Who teaches like Him? . . . The truths that Christ teaches are such as we may venture our souls upon." And second, He will provide rest for our souls. This gospel lesson has come full circle: we come with the burden of sin and He lifts us, gives us the privilege of walking with and learning from Him, and provides us with soul-rest. "The only way, and a sure way to find rest for our souls is to sit at Christ's feet and hear His word. The way of duty is the way of rest."
"This is the sum and substance of the gospel call and offer:
we are here told, in a few words,
what the Lord Jesus requires of us . . ."