“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” NASU
I’m not a person who can sit still very long. I like to move (preferably forward) and I don’t like to be bored. Rest is a challenging word for me. To me, sleep is rest.
Jesus is speaking of two kinds of rest in this scripture. The first rest He freely gives and we freely receive. It’s a wonderful description of the salvation He gives by faith through grace. It’s the perfect remedy for anyone who has wearily labored to merit God’s favor and “heavy-laden” with guilt when we realize we simply cannot earn His righteousness.
The second rest we need to find and take. I relate this rest to our journey of faith. Jesus uses the metaphor of being yoked with Him to discover this rest. I’m not a farmer, and I’ve never plowed with a yoke of oxen, but I understand it is customary for a wise farmer to pair a young ox with an older, more experienced ox. The older sets the pace – the younger learns. Of course, the two oxen must work together to be productive. Hopefully, the young ox learns to pull, stop, turn, and rest at the pace the elder. I image this exercise is extremely difficult for a youthful, virile, restless ox, wanting to test his limits. He pulls against, not with his partner. Haven’t we all been there, done that…?
Jesus invites us to take his yoke. He doesn’t thrust it upon us. The way we find the rest He offers is to learn from Him: His character (gentle and humble) – His ways. The more I know Him the more yielded I become to His lead; the easier His yoke becomes.
To me these verses are a reminder Jesus is setting the pace for life and ministry. When there is a pause, a lull in activity, I need to ask my yoke-fellow what’s going on. He knows me better than I know myself. And He knows the road ahead. I trust Him. When there is a respite in the busy schedule there is a good reason. It’s time to replenish spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically. Not an easy lesson for a restless spirit like me, but essential for longevity. Take the time to know Jesus!