Choosing the “Rest”

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Text: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30


All of this passage has to do with the contrast between those who trust in God, and those who trust in themselves.  Jesus, as He almost always did, spoke these words out of compassion for the people who were tired, exhausted, and without hope.  With that in mind, I want to focus in on the last three verses of today’s reading, so let me read them again to you:

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

Have you ever noticed how good kids are at pointing out deep truths in a simple way that we big people missed because we “think too much?” I’m not saying you should give up thinking – Jesus said we’re to love God with all of us, our minds included!  What I am saying is that maybe we’d be better off by letting our souls do the understanding when it comes to spiritual things.

Jesus does two very important things in the scripture we’re studying today.  The first is reminding us that the Kingdom is very close to us and it’s possible to see it in the here-and-now if you have a faith that allows you to see it.  The second is that with the faith that sees God’s Kingdom, it’s possible to carry the burdens Jesus gives you because He shoulders some of the load for you.

Only a Childlike Faith will see God’s Kingdom

Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. (Matthew 11:25 NLT)

When Jesus says ‘childlike,’ He’s making a comparison with those who are childish.  To be childlike is to live with innocence, to find simple joy in life and living, while being childish is to only find joy in living only the way you want to live.  A childlike faith sees God’s Kingdom because they know the truth of its existence through simple trust. If you always have to have things your way, you’re not trusting!

A Childlike Faith is filled with the Spirit of the Sabbath

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)

This is good news for anyone who is exhausted from your work, your journey through life, the weight of the burdens you carry.  Anyone living in this state feels harassed and helpless – and you may know exactly what this means!

When Jesus invites us to find rest for our souls, He’s referring to the spirit of the Sabbath that was and is an important part of the life of the children of Israel.  The Sabbath is a time of rest – but that doesn’t mean the kind of rest you get by sleeping late, or spending the day in your recliner.  It’s not that easy.  Sabbath rest is about disconnecting from the things in life that distract you from spiritual thinking the other six days of the week and focusing in on the things that keep your faith strong.

During Sabbath time, Jews greet one another with the words, “Shabbat Shalom,” which literally means “the peace of the Sabbath.” We do something like that when we greet one another in Christ; though we don’t always use these words, we display the spirit of Sabbath when we greet one another with “the peace of Christ be with you.”

We live in a world that never stops moving – how many of you will leave church today, and head off to some sort of work?  Will the peace of Christ remain with you?

When Jesus invites the ‘weary’ to join Him, he’s inviting anyone wearied with life’s burdens to come and be refreshed.  Life may not get easier, but with the spirit-filled faith He gives, you’ll return refreshed – and He’ll be carrying the load with you.

The yoke of faith is easier because Jesus shares the burden with us

For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. (Matthew 11:30 NLT)

Have you come here today seeking rest?  Have you come with a questioning heart that wants to know how you can find the refreshing of a new life and a new perspective?

You might have come today with a heavy burden – a thankless job with a boss who doesn’t care; a marriage wounded by a lack of care or faithfulness; maybe you’ve experienced a loss that is taking much from you, or you have a spiritually wayward child and don’t know where to turn.

The good news is that even though everything in this world can fail you, God will always be faithful, and you can find peace regardless of what is trying to take your joy.

Jesus says, “Learn from me. You don’t need to look for peace in other places – with things that numb you to the pain of life.  All that will do is leave you even emptier than you are now. Find your rest in me.”

With Christ, love is better than hate, restoration is better than revenge, and purity is better than lust. In Jesus, the burdens you bear will only bring peace to your soul.

Jesus invites you to enter into His rest – today. Will you?


Sources Consulted

“The Greatest Generation,” Homiletics, July 1999

“B.T.D.T.,” Homiletics, July 1996

Bradley Machov, “The Spirit of Shabbat”, retrieved 2 July 2011

Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew (IVP, 1992)

Wilkins, Michael. Matthew. (Zondervan, 2004)