Where can I find rest?
Updated: Aug 24
(Abbreviation of sermon preached Sunday 9 July 2023. Watch full sermon here.)
Life is hectic! Parents & families know the busyness as they rush from one commitment to the next. Grand-parents experience the hustle and bustle of child-minding. Those in business know the toil of taking four steps forward, only to take three steps back. Those who are sick suffer restless and sleepless nights in bed or in hospital. The often frantic pace of life can feel like a weight on our shoulders, a burden to carry. Jesus invites us to find rest in him.
(1) “Come to me.” (Matthew 11:28).
Notice there are no strings attached, just a simple invitation. Not “Come if you’ve truly repented,” not “Come if you’ve prayed the right prayer earnestly enough,” not “Come if you have your life together.” No! Jesus simply invites saying, “Come to me.”
Reflection: What conditions do you place on yourself or others coming to Jesus?
(2) “Come ... all you ...” (Matthew 11:28).
This invitation is very inclusive: “all” is a big word! Hosting a birthday party or another type of event, you typically have a limit on the number of people you can invite. But here Jesus invites “all.” This “all” includes you! Pause to ponder this for a moment... Jesus invites you.
(3) “Come ... all you who are weary and burdened.”
More precisely, Jesus invites “all who are wearied and burdened.” We all carry baggage on our back!
Sin is a wearisome burden to carry: Guilt. Shame. Hurt. Pain. Grief. Sickness. Abuse. Even old age and decaying bodies is a sign of sin. Death itself is the ultimate burden we must carry in this broken world.
Work is a wearisome burden to carry. At times, our work — whether paid or unpaid — can be wearisome. We toil for what seems like inadequate compensation. We bust our guts only to be criticised or under appreciated.
In the account of the fall in Genesis chapter 3, the ground is cursed: work from then on will be painful toil, with thorns, thistles, and weeds. Life in this fallen world is hard work and tiring. One commentator says that Jesus invites ‘those wearied by the sheer hard work of making ends meet and surviving in a tough world.’
Reflection: What burdens do you carry? What weighs you down, day to day or in particular right now?
(4) “I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
“Give” is gospel language, it’s good news! Jesus freely offers you a gift, doing what you can’t do for yourself. You can’t take the load off your own back, but Jesus promises to do the work for you. God is ever giving.
(5) “Take my yoke upon you. ... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29).
The giving is an exchange — we exchange one thing for another. We give our sin, Jesus gives us his holiness. We give guilt, Jesus gives forgiveness. We give shame, Jesus gives his glory and honour. We give grief, he gives comfort and hope. We give death, Jesus gives new life.
A “yoke” was a piece of wood worn across the shoulders to evenly distribute a load. Beasts of burden would be “yoked” so that they could pull a heavier load. After Jesus was sentenced and flogged, the soldiers forced him to carry his cross — probably just the cross beam upon his shoulders, like a yoke. Jesus carries the burden of sin for you on the cross.
(6) “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ... and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).
The easier, lighter burden Jesus gives is to learn from him. Instead of carrying around the guilt, shame, and pain of sin, we are to learn. Learn how to love God, and learn how to love each other. This is still a load to carry (it’s not always easy to love others!), but it is easier.
CHALLENGE: Set aside 30 minutes to learn from Jesus and find rest in God’s Word. Perhaps read part of the story of Jesus, such as the Gospel of Mark. Listen to some hymns or Scripture put to song. Sit in nature and read a favourite psalm (e.g. Psalm 103).
Heavenly Father: I bring to you those who are weary and burdened. Those who carry the weight of sin from this broken world. Those who are work hard yet are barely surviving. Teach us to sit and learn from you. Let me learn from Jesus how to love you and those around me. Give me your rest. Amen.