“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)
Here we have the stunning invitation of Jesus our Savior. Do we hear Him?
It is not an invitation only for a few, but an invitation for “all you who are weary and burdened.” Are any of us weary? Are any of us burdened? Praise God that our weariness and burdens do not need to push us away from God but can lead us closer to Him. So what are our areas of weariness? Where are we worn down? What has caused sheer tiredness in our experiences and circumstances today? What burdens do we carry? What things from our past, our present, or our future feel like weights upon our lives? May we bring them to the feet of Jesus today.
Our encounter with the tender acceptance and care of God leads us beyond ourselves into a new way of living. The yoke that Jesus describes is a new way of learning from Jesus. When we think of a yoke, we probably think of a cattle yoke, where two animals are yoked together. But it is highly likely that Jesus is referring here to the human yoke, or shoulder pole, which is used to carry burdens more easily. The concept of the yoke was often used as a metaphor for how we live our lives. The yoke was then connected to the idea of walking in God’s wisdom and law. One took up that yoke by learning from God’s Word and teaching. So we have the opportunity turn from our own yoke—our own way of life—and turn to Jesus’ yoke—His way of living.
As we hear Jesus’ invitation we then discover and encounter His character. What is Jesus like? He is gentle and humble in heart. He is meek. He is lowly. He is, as we will continue to encounter throughout Matthew’s gospel, a servant Messiah. In fact, Jesus, as the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), shows us that there is no one as gentle and humble as God. God is the most gentle and humble being we will ever meet.
When we respond to Jesus’ stunning invitation then we will experience true rest for our souls. Are any of us restless? Are any of us feeling like we are searching for a true place of peace and home to abide in? This is found in God through Jesus the Messiah. As St. Augustine writes near the beginning of his beautiful work Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”