By Brooke Holt
“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
Are you tired today? Tired of the constant demands of work or family, maybe even the demands of your church or ministry. If so, you are not alone. In 2022, Family Safety and Health published an article entitled “Exhausted Nation: Americans More Tired Than Ever”. OnePoll conducted a survey to see how covid had impacted peoples’ work schedules, sleep, and energy. Taken at the beginning of January 2022, it found people felt fatigued and exhausted.
Reading our passage for today makes me wonder if exhaustion has always been a problem. Throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel operated under the Law with its seemingly, never-ending demands. Even the most penitent, devout Jew could not meet the righteous requirements of the Law. Consequently, they continually had to offer sacrifices to atone for their sins. The law seemed like a relentless and never satisfied slave driver who was always asking for more – more obedience, righteousness, and sacrifice.
Jesus comes with the most glorious news: “I will give you rest” (verse 28). Can you imagine Jesus walking into your workplace or home today with these words on his lips? I would ask him to finish my writing, to walk the dog, and then to plan and make dinner. Meanwhile, I could sit and enjoy reading a book or the latest Pickleball magazine. How fabulous!
Yet, Jesus is offering a different kind of rest here (though he does think physical rest is important). Jesus came to do what you and I could not do, what nobody before him could do. Jesus came to perfectly fulfill the Law so that his people could rest from their striving, working, performing, and sacrificing. Jesus’ invitation for his people was to rest in him and what he would accomplish on their behalf.
To further illustrate his point, Jesus referenced the yoke. The yoke, a wooden implement fitted to lay across the necks of two oxen, allowed them to pull a cart together in step. Jesus compared that burden to the continual demands of the Law and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Where they constantly laid heavy demands on the people, Jesus came to set them free from those demands. In Jesus, they would find a new yoke of love, forgiveness, and healing.
These words of Jesus were radical to a Jewish person living in his day. Perhaps they sound radical to you today. Nevertheless, his invitation remains. Jesus offers rest for your soul. He longs to remove all your heavy burdens – all the things you carry – and to bring you his peace, comfort, and healing.
Are you tired today? If, like so many others, you feel the weight of this world, come to Jesus. Bring all your burdens, your cares, your fears. He alone can release you from the weight of these worries and lead you into the rest you so desperately need!
Will you come to Jesus today? Will you allow Jesus to take your burdens, to carry your load, and the give you rest you so desperately need? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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