Learning to rest (Matthew 11:28-29)

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.” – Matthew 11:28-29

            Jesus is the great giver of rest. He is the heaven-sent Messiah who has come to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), and He is also the one who has been sent to give His people a sure hope (Hebrews 6:17) and to give them peace with God (Romans 5:1), and here the Lord Jesus calls out to any who will listen, offering them a promise of “rest for your souls.”

            Oftentimes, when these verses are proclaimed, there is an evangelistic intent, seeking to call burdened sinners to repentance and faith, calling them to cast their burden of sin and shame onto Jesus and thereby to receive His rest for their souls. And this is entirely right. It is entirely appropriate to preach these verses evangelistically and by them to call sinners to repentance. For where is a person who has been convicted of their sin and who has thus become weary and burdened by sin’s awful load to turn for relief from that load? How long must their search go on, their search for the rest that comes with God’s forgiveness? Who will deliver them? The answer is that Jesus is the One who will deliver them. “Come to Him, you who are weary and weighed down with your sins, and He promises to give you rest.” All who come to Jesus in repentance and faith are promised rest.

            But while this passage is certainly evangelistic, it should also be tremendously encouraging to those who have been walking with Jesus for a while. As I meditated on these verses this morning, I realized that, while Jesus has promised me rest if I come to Him, and while I have, indeed, come to Him in repentance and faith, I have often failed to claim my promise of rest. That is, even though Jesus has promised me His rest, and all His promises are true, I often live my life in unrest.

Before I came to Jesus, my life was marked by distress and unrest. I was striving after all the fleeting pleasures and attractions of this world and I was searching for something that would give me a sense of purpose and significance, all the while unaware of the weight of my sins, which continued to accumulate and fester. But then the Lord called me out darkness and into His marvelous light. He gave me a purpose by making me one of His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and by calling me to proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9). He nailed my sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14) and He washed me and sanctified me and justified me in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:11).

So now that I have come to Jesus as He commands me to come in Matthew 11:28, my life should no longer be marked by distress and unrest, but should now be marked by the rest that Jesus has promised me. My striving for satisfaction is over and my search for significance is fulfilled. I have come to Jesus, and in Him I have found rest. In Jesus I have found and received and embraced and now abide in all the peace and rest that this world has to offer. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of kings has promised me rest. Now, by God’s grace, I will live in that rest and will enjoy that rest and give all the glory to the One who bought that rest for me at the price of His own blood.

Lord, teach me to fully rest in You, while at the same time striving against sin and spending myself for others and working hard to proclaim Your great name. Teach me, Lord, how to enjoy each day as a gift from You to be used for Your glory. Thank You, Lord, that my search is over and that I have come to You and have received Your gift of rest. Lord, teach me to rest fully in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

SDG                 rmb                 11/8/2020

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