I have been thinking about rest recently. Having contracted Covid-19 around Thanksgiving, the fatigue that seems to last well past other symptoms has motivated me to seek physical rest. However, the unrest that is spews from the news and social media outlets, has spurred me to think and pray for the soul-rest that believers can have in Christ.
Our Lord invited his followers and the unbelieving crowd to His rest during His teaching ministry in Galilee. Matthew, one who was not a stranger to stress, is the only gospeler who records Jesus’ powerful words:
“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” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).
The invitation to come and learn from the Lord is not a command but rather an interjection. So often we are so stress with the circumstances of our lives that we need our Lord to get our attention. His invitation here is more like, “Hey are you coming?” or “You hoo…are you paying attention?” We will never experience the rest that our Lord provides if we are too busy to hear His invitation to come and learn from Him.
The invitation to come is followed by the Lord’s invitation to commit to learning from Him. The “taking of the yoke” of the Lord is a beautiful picture of how our Savior brings rest to our souls. The yoke in the New Testament time brought together two oxen. As is true in Amish communities today, farmers would bring together an experienced animal with an unexperienced animal and yoke them together so that learning in the yoke could take place.
The astounding nature of the Savior’s invitation is that He longs for us to join Him in the yoke so that His power, His wisdom, His character can rub off on us as we carry out His purposes in our lives! The yoke is not a passive place of kicking back relaxation. The yoke is designed to get the job done. Nevertheless, the result of heeding this invitation to commit to the yoke with Jesus is that we will find that He is gentle. Far from being wimpy, our Lord’s gentleness is one of considerateness. He is thoughtful of us in the yoke. Nor is he an arrogant know-it-all. Though He knows it all, he is humble to the very core—He is lowly of heart.
The result of committing to the yoke with Jesus is rest of soul. So often we think that if our circumstances were less restless we would have less stress. Learning from Him in the yoke is the only way for true soul satisfaction. Only He can satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. And…because He is in the yoke with us, even in our deepest distress, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.
Are you resting in your soul with your Savior? He invites us to come and commit to active learning with Him in whom we will always and eternally find soul-rest.
— President Dave Ley