“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.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
In our hurried and busy lives, we all desire rest. Many people think of rest as their time to recharge and take care of themselves. However, some might also feel that this is when they can stay still and do nothing. Though we have different approaches to rest, one thing is true: We all need it.
There is rest in repentance
The Gospels show that Jesus made the most out of His time on earth. He went to various cities to minister to people and do the will of the Father. However, in Matthew 11, He rebuked the cities where most of His works had been done because the people did not repent. Before we reach the part where Jesus is telling us that He will give us rest, we see how He worked hard to reach many. In verse 20 it says, “Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.”
Before Jesus calls us to rest, He will call us first to repentance. When we seek forgiveness from our sins, turn away from it, and approach God’s throne with humility, He leads us to His rest. When we are unable to approach God because of our own barriers, there is unrest. We will always fail to hear and see where He is leading us.
A call to obedience
When God asks us to come to Him, He is not just asking us to approach Him and do nothing. He asks us to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him (see verses 28-29). It’s a proactive approach. If we want rest, we must accept what He will give us and be willing to learn from Him. A yoke is a wooden piece used for animals to effectively carry a plow or a cart. Some yokes are meant for one animal, while some are meant for two or more. When it comes to our walk with God, we must be willing to take the yoke or the disciplining tool He gives us so that we can truly understand His ways. To carry a yoke also means to be within a specific limit. It is a call to service. When we take our yoke from Jesus, it only follows that we remain close to Him.
In verse 30, Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In this passage, if we choose to come to Him, He will give us His burden. Our good Lord wants to relieve us of our own burdens and the burdens of others that we carry, but this is so we can carry the burden that He has appointed to us. The life God desires for us is not burden-free. He wants for us a life that is not burdensome. As long as we’re carrying our own and others’ burdens, we won’t be able to bear His burden. We must be free of the weight of the world before we can carry what He will give us.
You cannot have one without the other
If we want true rest for our souls, we must take God’s yoke and burden. We cannot have one without the other. Without the yoke, we won’t be able to bear the burden. And without a burden, the yoke will be a dead weight. In our walk with Christ and our community of believers, we must understand that He has given us different yokes and burdens. Some yokes and burdens were made for us to carry on our own, while some were made for us to share. But there is one thing we must do: to carry these in surrender to God.
Perhaps one of the things we can remember with the yoke and the burden is the cross Jesus carried. It was heavy and deadly. Whoever was tasked to carry it will die. While this is a grim illustration, it is a reminder for us to deny ourselves and carry our cross daily so that we can follow Him (see Luke 9:23). When Jesus carried the cross, He bore all our sin, shame, and sickness. He bore the burden of the world. When we carry our own cross, our own yoke and burden, in obedience to our Lord, we are assured of victory. For He who is in us has overcome the world (see John 16:33).
The path to peace
When we take His easy yoke and light burden, this is the only time we can have peace that surpasses all understanding (see Philippians 4:7). This is not some shallow kind of peace. It goes beyond the sort of rest that recharges our bodies momentarily. What Jesus offers us is the eternal kind—one that brings comfort and security to our body, soul, and spirit. But we must take Him up in His challenge to give what we have and take what He meant for us to carry.
Here’s an encouragement for you today: When we accept the purpose to understand the things of God, we align ourselves with Him. A life that is in God’s hands will always experience His goodness.