“At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to me all you 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.”
This could be considered one of the greatest invitations by our Lord Jesus. He promises rest, that is the focus here. We distinguish between two kinds of rest. The rest that we receive the moment that we believe on Jesus, the moment you trust in Christ you are delivered from your greatest burden, the burden of sin. As Augustin said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”
There is also an active rest, a disciple’s ongoing rest. Jesus wants us to come to Him for rest and He uses the analogy of a wooden yoke that was placed on the back of a strong animal, an ox, to distribute the weight. We have to bear it as well, it is a light yoke, but we have to put ourselves under the yoke of discipleship, the yoke of obedience, submission, you could even say the yoke of prayer.
Think of the familiar hymn,
“What a friend we have in Jesus, are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care. Precious Savior still our refuge take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.”
Our burdens can come in many different sizes: burdens of fear, burdens of old age, burdens of aging parents, sick and disabled children, burdens of unsaved loved ones, burdens of fellow Christians, health burdens, financial burdens, sin struggles (they can still be burdens, but they were not under the condemnation of sin, we can still struggle with our own remaining sin). Those burdens can weigh in upon us and bring more burdens in terms of fear and worry.
Here is the great comfort, Jesus promises us rest, rest for the soul. Prayer is a great way to get to Jesus and find rest for our souls. I want you to notice a couple things here. How do you know Jesus will give you rest? How do you know He can give you rest? He tells us He has the all-sufficiency, the authority. He says here, “All things have been handed to Him by His Father.” He has power and authority over all things. He also has the power not only to deliver us but to sustain us, and as we are yoked to Him, He carries the burden, really the heavy side of that load.
Another reason why we can be assured that He will provide the rest is that He says, “I am gentle and lowly.” (I think this is the only place in Scripture where Jesus unveils His heart in terms of who He is.) Not harsh, not austere. He has the power, He has the authority. Often times when people have the power and authority they are harsh and austere, but not Jesus. He has a loving, caring, gentle heart. That explains why His yoke is light and His burden is as well. One person put it this way, “What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’ yoke does to His followers. We are buoyed along in life by His endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness. He never tires of sweeping us into His tender presence or His tender embrace. He invites us. Because He is who He is, we can be confident that He can give us rest from all our sorrows, all our burdens, and all our cares. I thought this was a wonderful invite for a prayer meeting, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden.” We often come weary and heavy laden.