When I was child, our house was broken into. I’ll never forget the circumstances that surrounded that event, and the details have left an imprint: the broken glass, the back door opened, the silver moved, the speakers turned over, and the cops roaming the house.
Though there was disturbance, it didn’t take us long to notice that nothing was actually taken. The intruder claimed to see a “hoard of men” walking toward the house, so he left everything and ran out the back door. With fresh snow on the ground, and no footprints to see, we have always believed that the “hoard” were angels protecting our home from what could have been a great loss.
As an adult, I can see God’s provisions all over this event, but as a child, the break-in caused tremendous fear. I went to bed that night with tears streaming down my face, trying to sort through the array of emotions I felt. I remember my dad coming in and checking on me. He must have noticed my tears and sensed my fear because he sat on the bed and took me into his arms. I put my head against his chest while he said several times, “I’m here.” In what felt like turmoil, my father’s loving grip and his reassuring words were all I needed to finally fall asleep.
Come to Me and Rest
This is the memory that comes to mind when I read Jesus’ words from Matthew 11: 28-30: “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.”
When we feel overwhelmed and overcome, the first thing the Lord says is, “Come to me.” This is a beautiful invitation for all who know that Jesus is the only and great rescuer. As Michael Green points out, Jesus does not say, “Go to God.” If that were the case, we would never find the way. But to the sinner, to the one in desperate need of spiritual rest, Jesus says, “Come.” We don’t have to find Him; He is already there ready to take us into His embrace.
Jesus invites those who are heavy burdened to come, but burdened from what? This passage is specifically talking about those to whom religion had become a duty – something tiresome and weighty. The Pharisees used to actually tie up piles of scrolls containing the law and strap it to the backs of men. In this sense, the Law was a literal heavy burden to carry.
Have you felt this kind of spiritual burden? Do you feel weighed down by what you believe you should be doing as a Christian? Remember, Jesus did not come to place a burden on your shoulders, but He came to set you free. The actions you carry out as a believer should not be done in order to earn your salvation or earn favor with God. You can’t do anything to make God love you more than He loves right now. His love is steadfast and unconditional, and nothing can change that. Trying to earn His favor will only cause weariness.
And so, Jesus offers rest from your burdens. And the rest He offers is not merely physical but a deep, soul-filled rest that provides peace and hope when we face hardship. The rest that Jesus offers is the kind of rest that enables us to fully trust Him when it comes to our children. It’s the kind of rest that gives us the ability to have faith when we’re waiting on test results, and it’s the kind of rest that fights against the “what-ifs” that barge in when we put our head on our pillow at night.
There are many self-help books that give various plans on how to become free from weariness and anxiety, but these plans only offer temporary relief. Like my Father who took me into his comforting and reassuring embrace, Jesus offers a peace for our soul that can be found nowhere else but in Him. Coming to Jesus means crying out to Him before anyone or anything else. Our doubts and our sin cause our knees to be feeble and our legs to be weak, so we need the help of our Savior in order to come. Satan would love to see us rely on our own abilities, and he would love to watch us devour every internet source before coming to Jesus. But our heavenly Father says come to me. Cry out to me. I am the one who will give you rest.
Take My Yoke and Rest
Jesus also gives rest for our souls by offering His yoke. The yoke in Biblical days was used in field work to join a pair of oxen in order to plow. It was a heavy and burdensome tool. Jesus does not offer to simply take away the yoke. He’s not offering the believer a life free from burdens and hardship. But instead, Jesus offers His yoke, one that is easy, light and good.
In taking the yoke of Jesus, we are taking on His strength through the Spirit to do the work He has called us to do. Whether it’s parenting, home-making, working as an employee, or fulfilling a role as a student, God readily gives His sustaining grace when we feel burdened, and He delights to help us in this way.
His yoke is not heavy and demanding, but it is easy and light, providing freedom from the need to find our self-worth in our work and our abilities. His yoke allows us to rest and trust in God’s plan as we see it unfold, even when we don’t have all the answers. Come to Jesus, take his yoke, and as you walk into whatever tomorrow may hold, know that Jesus is with you every step of the way. It’s in His embrace you can hear the Savior say, “I’m here, my child. Rest.”
 Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven. Inter-Varsity Press, 2001, pg. 142.
About the Author:
Katie is wife to Chris, a PCA pastor at Trinity church in Kirkwood, MO, and together they have three children, Ella, J-Rod, and Lily. Katie works as the music director at Trinity and serves on the Women’s Ministry Committee. She also spends much of her time writing, playing piano, leading women’s Bible studies, and speaking to women’s groups about the joy she has found in Christ. Katie graduated from Covenant College with a BA in English Education and has served on the board of Covenant. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Theology from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. For more information, as well as various blog entries, you can visit her website at www.katiepolski.com