“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”
- Matt. 11:28-30
There is a tendency, I think, for all of us to find our identity and our purpose in what we do. We consider ourselves successful and valued because of what we do or because of what we accomplish.
And when we aren't doing those things anymore, or we stop for a season, we suddenly feel guilty or purposeless. We feel like we don't have value.
This is in part because we live in an age where we are constantly bombarded by media, advertisements, consumerism, instant communication, and a culture that is always on-the-go. We hop on the hamster wheel and spend most of our days simply trying to catch up.
But here is a passage that calls us to a different way of being. It is a passage that calls us to set aside all of our busyness, our distractions, and our hurry, and instead to focus—not on a thing or a task—but on a person.
Jesus says, 'Come to me.'
There are other times when Jesus says, “Go. Give. Serve. Heal. Preach.” But here, Jesus says, “Come.”
And notice He doesn’t say, “Come to religion, come to church, come to spirituality, come to ministry, come to the retreat centre...” Those are all good things.
But here, Jesus says, “Come to me.”
He calls us to Himself. And he calls all of us who are weary from the brokenness of life, weary from the suffering in the world, weary from injustice and pain and sorrow and war. He calls all of us to Himself, all who are weary and overburdened.
That word, overburdened, in the Greek means to overburden yourself. So He’s essentially saying, “Come to me all you who are weary and have overburdened yourselves.” Jesus is reminding us here that most of our excessive weariness is a cause of our own doing.
But not only does He help us to identify the problem; He also provides the solution.
“Come to me, all who are weary and have overburdened themselves, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is the giver of rest. He is the one who rests us. Like Psalm 23 says, He lays me down beside still waters and restores my soul.
Rest is not true rest without Jesus. As St. Augustine said in his book Confessions, “My soul is restless until it rests in thee.”
So why does Jesus then call us to take on His yoke? A yoke in the ancient world was a symbol for hard work. It was what the oxen and cattle would wear on their backs to pull a plow in the field to turn up the soil.
If we use that metaphor, wouldn't taking on a yoke be another burden on us? Taking a holiday would make a lot more sense.
But here's the thing. Jesus isn't telling us to put on another yoke. He's telling us that we are weary and have overburdened ourselves because we are wearing the wrong yoke.
What we need is a transferring of yokes—a taking off of ours and a putting on of His.
Switch it up, Jesus says. Take up my yoke because my yoke is easy.
Why is His yoke easy? Because His yoke or ‘burden’ is to be in relationship with His Father. Being in community with His Father. His yoke is to know and trust in the will of His Father. And He’s inviting us into that—to take on that yoke with Him.
“Learn from me,” he says, “Watch me. I’m teaching you how to live and how to wear the right yoke, because then you will find rest for your souls.”
How might Jesus be calling you today to take on His yoke and rest in Him?
Song: Take a few moments to pause whatever you’re doing and prayerfully listen to this song. Hear the words and imagine Jesus speaking them over you. Wendell Kimbrough - "Come to Me."