AN INVITATION TO REST
“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” (Matt. 11:28-30).
The event, as described by Matthew, is widely known as The Great Invitation, as Christ proceeds to present the answer for the trials and burdens of life. However, I would like to entitle this section as An Invitation to Rest.
The picture that I would like to depict describes a person who has no more strength left in him—an individual who has experienced extreme exhaustion; a person who cannot go any further in life and cannot take another step. It presents the idea that many, both saved and unsaved, have come to the end of their proverbial rope, with no one or nothing left to which they can cling. Am I describing your life? Am I pinpointing what you are experiencing at this moment? If so, I pray that I am capable of expounding on what is causing such issues, and I hope to provide the answer for the tiredness of life.
There is one point that I would like to begin with. As Christ is speaking, He does not give us the answer for what causes these burdens to appear, for it does not matter. What matters is that the invitation for you to experience rest is open, and He is willing to supply what is needed for you to make it through life's journey. These words are the most important words ever spoken because Christ shows His authority of who He is, and that He is the answer for the sinner and the saint. In fact, in these verses, we find rest for every single person, whether you are an unbeliever or a believer. The simple invitation is to come. You can come boldly because He will never turn one single person away, and because this call is for everyone.
Rest For The Unbeliever
Let us begin with the person who does not claim Christianity, and who is outside of the faith and not a part of the family of God. Jesus is calling unto you to bring your cares, your burdens, and your labor unto Him. For anyone who has become empty and grown tired and worn down from all that life has thrown your way, God is inviting you to come. For anyone who has encountered frustration from trying to find the answer to life, He is bidding you come. Instead of discovering the inner peace and happiness that you have longed for, you have found the opposite. You have labored to find what escapes you, your faith in humanity has soured, and you are left with the feeling of being overburdened. The truth is that you have been looking for the meaning of life in all of the wrong places. That has left you with discontentment, discouragement, exhaustion, and unsettled questions about the future.
It is because of this that Jesus suggests that you come to Him— for the simple reason that He will give you rest. He will provide rest for those who have tried to earn salvation through good works, those who have struggled to find happiness, and those who are discouraged. You can cease from your labor, knowing that Christ will give you peace. However, it must be understood that the only way to find this peace and to experience this rest is for one to come to Jesus. Outside of Christ, there is no other means of rest for the sin-sick soul, and neither is there another avenue for that inner peace. Any other type of religious or man-made method will only add to your burdens. When a person comes to Christ, there is a new-found hope that springs forth from that despairing soul. There is an inner peace that floods the heart of that searcher, and he knows that the answer to life has been found. The burdens of life have been lifted. Christ is inviting you to rest in Him by believing in what He has accomplished at Calvary's cross.
Rest For The Believer
There is a second way of rest that Christ is offering. This speaks to the believer who has been trying to earn his sanctification through works. When Christ spoke, He did not overlook those bound by the schemes of religion; He offered them rest as well. This rest was an invitation to take His yoke upon them. For those who may not know, a yoke was a wooden collar that was placed on the shoulders of oxen for plowing. If the yoke was not correctly fitted, it could cause the skin of the ox to chafe, which would lead to sores. Jesus was saying to those who had tried the religion of the Pharisees, which had left them with spiritual wounds, to try His yoke. Religion is heavy. Law-keeping is tedious. However, the yoke of Christ is easy because it only takes faith.
Religion relies on constantly doing, whereas Christianity relies on what was already done. This rest is essential to the believer because it states that the Christian does not have to do anything except believe. As I am fond of saying: Christ is telling us that the same way we came into the family of God is the same way we stay in the family of God. That way is faith.
Christ told us that we need to learn of Him, which speaks of His work on Calvary’s cross. To learn means “to understand.” It speaks of acquiring knowledge through study, experience, or being taught. To learn speaks of growth, both spiritually and in maturity, which is why we need to have a solid understanding of the Bible. To acquire this type of knowledge, we must study its contents, rightly divide the Word of Truth, and sit under proper teaching built on proper doctrine. Once a Christian begins to study the Bible, he will see the cross all through its pages. From the very beginning of human history to the last chapter of Revelation, the cross is at its core. If we get the cross wrong, then everything will be wrong. Without the cross, there is no rest, whether for salvation or sanctification. We must also understand that one will never arrive at a place where one understands the cross in its fullest, simply because this message always expands. Therefore, we must keep learning about the cross every single day of our lives. Learning of Christ means allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and allowing Him to work in our lives daily, which leads to our experiencing a more abundant life.
More Abundant Life
Many Christians around the world are not experiencing more abundant life because they do not know how. They cannot practice something when there is no practical knowledge of what to do or how to live. This always results in Christians living far beneath what God intends for them to live. They are stuck in a rut, so to speak, with no end in sight. There is no rest but only struggle and labor; however, Christ is telling us today that His yoke is easy, which means that His way is better. The way of the cross is so much better than self-effort because the cross leads to unlimited victory in life. The cross is not only better, but it is easy because all it takes is faith. It is simply believing that what Christ accomplished at the cross was and is enough. Does this mean that we will never experience another problem again? No. Life will always bring about its problems, but what makes this different is that the cross is well-fitted to meet the need. The only fight that we are instructed to engage in is the fight to keep our faith fastened to the cross. By connecting to the cross through faith, we have enabled the grace of God to flow in our lives freely and liberally, which can never be diminished if we keep our faith in Christ and the cross.
The choice of rest is before us. We can continue to try and work toward our salvation, which will never satisfy our hearts, or we can labor to bring about sanctification, which is a work that only the Holy Spirit can do. By submitting to Christ, we are ceasing from our work and, in effect, taking a vacation from our labor. It is time that we put an end to our work and learn to rest in Him because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
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