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. (Matthew 11:28–30)
In Matthew 11:27, Jesus is praying. In that prayer, He speaks more clearly than in almost any other passage of His relationship to God the Father as His Son. He speaks of His unique role in revealing the Father to people. Then He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Here is a wonderful command and promise to those who are tired in soul and restless. There is a blessed quietness available for your soul.
The One who reveals the Father to us wants to give us a rest, best described in Hebrews 4 as a rest like God’s rest on the seventh day of creation, a Sabbath rest for the people of God, wherein we cease from our labors.
While Jesus wants to cause you to rest, He speaks of a yoke. A yoke was the important part of a harness worn by work animals. Can He be speaking of rest and work at the same time? I think so. There is no absolute freedom from every yoke. Those who want to be completely free often find themselves under an oppressive yoke—of drugs or materialism, of various kinds of poverty, of various desires they cannot control. That yoke becomes a bondage, and those under it find they are not free. Jesus promises, by contrast, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is saying, “Yoke yourself with Me because My task for you is shared and easy and My burden is light.”
Some have supposed that at Jesus’ carpenter shop they made the best yokes in all of Galilee. Maybe there was a sign on the outside that said, “My yokes fit well.” This is certainly true of the spiritual yoke He gives to all who follow Him, or as the term “yoke” implies, who work alongside Him in His task. There is an implied warning that if we do not come to Him, we will not find rest; we will be tired, and we will experience an oppressive yoke and carry a heavy burden.
I heard one preacher say, “Suppose I brought before you two people, one who had served God with love and devotion all his life, and the other who had served Satan all his life. You could just look into their faces and know which one has the hardest task master.” So many of God’s people have an independent spirit, which keeps them from experiencing the lightness of depending upon the loving Father, who desires to carry our burdens. When we do not obey His command to yield them up to His care, we will most certainly experience the consequences of our rebellion. Yet, if we will take Him at His word and obey Him, Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Jesus, as I sit here in silence before You, please give me a more complete picture about what taking on Your yoke really means for my life. Speak to my heart so that I will know what You desire for me to do to embrace this command more completely and so that Your Holy Spirit can transform me more fully into Your image.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Extra Commands to Pray. A FREE PDF DOWNLOAD that goes along with the book, Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life. It includes content for additional commands that the book does not cover.
Praise God for his unfathomable love. Give thanks that he will let nothing separate you from that love. Confess to God any lack of love for him. Commit yourself to loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Ask that your love may grow and overflow to others just as Christ’s love does to you (1 Thess. 3:12).
Pray for family members and friends to have a strong and growing love for God and for others.
“I have lived to thank God that all my prayers have not been answered.” —Jean Ingelow
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