Those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ can see a deeper meaning in these words than the “officers” could ever have imagined. Truly His words were unique and in many cases exclusive to the One Who was truly God manifest in the flesh. Let us meditate on His words as found in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
The atmosphere was tense in the cities of Galilee. There was general rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ and any enthusiasm stimulated by His miracles seemed to have waned. But suddenly, in a well-chosen spot, the sonorous voice of the Perfect Man was heard. Every word had its proper emphasis: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We may well expect that there was something in the terms of this invitation that caught the attention of those who passed by, for it was different from anything ever heard before. No mere man had ever made a proposal like this. No one in the Old Testament had been known to issue an invitation in his own name in these terms. It was exclusive of none: “all ye that labor.” The guarantee was absolute: “I will give you rest.” No possible failure was contemplated nor was there any hint of merely “attempting” to give rest. Who was this who thus claimed divine power? According to the previous verse He was the eternal Son of the eternal Father; no one could fully know Him, save the Father. It is important to examine the placement of His words in Scripture; His invitations and promises are extended to all.
Tracing the concept of oppression and toil to its origin in the Bible we discover that it is the direct or indirect result of sin (Gen 3:16-19). How often the convicted sinner feels the sense of oppression and anxiety! The same can be said of many who in an emotionally charged atmosphere have made a certain religious commitment, which has not brought the looked for peace and satisfaction.
The blessed Savior said “Come unto Me.” The concept of “coming to Him” is the same as “believing on Him” (see John 6:35). Let us concentrate on the word which the Lord Jesus used. “Come” indicates a drawing near to His Person. True conversion occurs when the sinner meets with the Savior. It is not seeing a “light” or feeling a physical “sensation.” In the simplicity of that sublime moment he draws near by faith to the Savior and trusts Him, trusts Him only, trusts Him wholly. Most helpful in the hour of conviction is the value of His death.
Is this experience of coming to the Lord Jesus the end of all problems? The Bible does not teach this. However, with regard to the oppression and burden of sin, this has given way to the joy of true rest and complete forgiveness. A serious problem has been solved and there is no justification for doubt. This great reality is well expressed in the words:
On Thy pierced and blessing breast
Thou dost bid the weary rest;
Rest there from the world’s false ways,
Rest there from its vanities.
Rest in pardon and relief
From the load of guilt and grief;
Rest in Thy redeeming blood,
Rest in perfect peace with God.
Thou art precious in mine eyes;
Thou alone my rest shall be,
Now and through eternity.
(H. Grattan Guinness 1835-1910)
The Lord Jesus had yet more to say “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The acceptance of the Lord Jesus as Savior is the beginning of a relationship which will continue through all eternity. Dwelling on these words from verse 29, we perceive that it is as though the Savior said to the one having come into rest “Now I want you to go along with Me.” Think of the reply given by the Risen Lord to Saul of Tarsus when he asked the question: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). The brief answer makes it very clear that he was now under a new Master!
This new path in company with the Lord Jesus involves a yoke – His yoke! It therefore means to walk in fellowship with Him and in accordance with His will. This may seem too much for some. It is true that the acceptance of His yoke will take the believer in the opposite direction to the fast moving current of this evil world. The price may seem too high, but it is only so in the mind of those who shrink back from the yoke. Those who, with thankful hearts, take His yoke upon them and walk according to His will discover that His words are true. “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Weighing carefully the words of these verses, we discover the precious secret of life at its highest level. Coming to Him, a sinner receives “that rest in Him the weary only know.” Taking His yoke and learning of Him the new convert walks near Him and is led on in a path that will shortly be consummated “in glory on yon shore.”
The Master often expressed Himself in few words, but, as here, their content is infinite and their character divinely sublime.
“Never man spake like this Man” (John 7:46)