Do you ever feel bone-tired, weary, and overwhelmed? That’s how I felt this weekend. So, I brought my exhausted self to the Word and let Christ restore my soul and give me rest. I soaked up his words in Matthew 11:28-30. As I slowed down and dug into the underlying meaning, I found it restful indeed to walk alongside Jesus. I invite you to seek refuge in his words, but even more so in him.
28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” —Matthew 11:28-30, NET
Have you ever noticed how God can unveil new insights from familiar passages right when we need them? Even though we’ve studied the verses many times before, they reveal, remind, and speak in fresh and relevant ways. That’s what happened for me this weekend with these three verses. So here is what the Holy Spirit showed me through these familiar words.
Jesus calls worn out and overloaded people to come to him and trade their way for his.
Too often, we toil away, desperately striving to meet unrealistic expectations and shoulder more than we are designed to carry. When Jesus called people like us, he used a word that referred to a ship overloaded with too much freight. I often feel like I’ve taken on too much and my vessel is overwhelmed. How about you?
Jesus invites us to live differently by walking yoked to him and learning to find rest for our souls. What expectations do you feel you must meet? Who put those expectations on you? It might be others, but in many cases, I think we do it to ourselves. As we walk with Jesus he will teach us our limits and how to live within those.
Do you long for some real, soul-restoring rest? Come to Jesus. Rest. Ahhhh. Such an elusive thing in our constant motion and clamor. Jesus longs to teach us to live according to the God-designed rhythm of life which is so different from the world’s.
Jesus invites us to trade our soul-sucking yoke for his soul-restoring yoke. A yoke is an apparatus that couples two things together so they can work as one. For example, a yoke binds two beasts of burden to each other so they pull a plow as one united team. In Jesus’ day, it also referred to the precepts and constraints imposed by a teacher upon his students.
Jesus contrasted his yoke with that of the Pharisees. They insisted God’s people live up to not only the Law as given in the Scriptures, but also to the ridiculous legalistic interpretations of it made by the rabbis. These religious leaders hitched the people to burdens they were never intended to bear. And much like an overloaded ship, they floundered and sank under the weight.
In much the same way, we heap expectations and burdens upon ourselves and others and then wonder why we buckle under the pressure. Jesus invites us to live differently.
His yoke was radically at odds with that of the Pharisees. Jesus offered a relationship in which one could learn from a gentle and humble teacher and find rest for our souls.
I love the transliteration of the Greek. Take the yoke of Me on you and learn from Me, because meek I am and lowly in heart and you will find rest to the souls of you. Rest to the very soul of you.
Had he been from Texas he might have said, “…you will find rest to y’alls souls.” This is different from physical rest, and even spiritual rest. The word soul here refers to the immaterial part of us through which the body lives, thinks, and feels. With Jesus, we can learn to find a rest in which mental and emotional turmoil ceases.
We tend to overload ourselves and others. Jesus doesn’t do that to us. He asks us to carry only that for which we are equipped and can easily manage. When you look at the actual Greek words, the contrast is clear. He called out to people described as burdened. The word here, as mentioned above, is a term for an overloaded ship. When he describes his load as being one easy to bear and light, he uses a term for a properly loaded ship.
It is not the idea of having nothing to bear. As believers, we certainly have responsibilities, but when he calls us to carry a load it is one fitted to us. He insures we are equipped to carry what he calls us to bear.
And in those instances when he calls us to something bigger, he never intends for us to shoulder it alone. When we walk yoked to Jesus, the things we are unable to bear are carried on his shoulders. In those moments, our weakness is the stage on which his strength is glorified (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
So, when you feel weary and overloaded, come to him. Submit yourself to his yoke and walk along beside him, one with him. Let him lift the heavy burden placed on you by others or yourself. He can and will help you when you struggle. Can you hear his call? “Come to me…and find rest for your soul.”
Your turn: If you are yoked to Jesus, how has that helped you find rest for your soul? If you are not, what holds you back from accepting his offer of relationship? You can leave a comment by clicking here.