“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus offers rest to the weary and burdened in our text. It is tempting to interpret this promise of rest as relief in the midst of the ‘hustle and bustle’ of modern-day life. However, Jesus is here referring to something far more important, eternal rest (i.e. salvation) for your souls (verse 29). In the context, commentators believe that Jesus is addressing the heavy burden of legalistic religion (= keeping the law) that seeks to earn salvation, but continually fails.
The good news is that Jesus here offers rest to those who are weary from labouring for salvation. Salvation is a gift! Jesus’ offer comprises three commands or steps:
- Come to me
- Take my yoke upon you
- Learn from me
Notice that these steps begin and end with Jesus. He alone is the key to this rest. You must come to Him (step 1). You do so by faith, looking to Him alone for your salvation. He promises to give rest to your soul, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances. You will no longer feel the need to toil for your salvation. However, that is just the first step. You must also take Jesus’ yoke upon you, and you must learn from Him (steps 2-3). Commentators interpret this to mean acceptance and submission to Jesus’ teaching. The motivation? ‘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’ (verse 29-30). In contrast to the religious leaders of his day, the obedience and service to which Jesus calls you is not burdensome. It is the fruit, not the foundation, of your salvation; it is motivated by gratitude to God, not gaining favour with Him. As you take His yoke upon you and learn from Him, Jesus helps you. The load Jesus gives you is easy to carry because He, unlike the religious leaders, shares the burden (cf. Matthew 23:4). It is Jesus’ strength that makes the yoke easy and the burden light!
Jesus does not offer you an easy life when you come to Him, but rather the gift of eternal life. He will remove your burden of sin and guilt and give you the peace of a right relationship with God. Your soul will experience rest … forever! However, that promise is only for those who obey steps 1-3. In the words of the old chorus, ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey!’