"Come Unto Me"
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For
My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
For hundreds of years and millions of people these words have been a blessing. There is not a word or sentence here, which does not contain a treasure of thought for anybody willing to listen and learn.
THE INVITATION issued here is captured by three words: "Come To Me."
When we hear the gospel; when we read the Bible and study the New Testament and learn about the Savior what we are called upon to do is NOT JUST CHANGE OUR RELIGION! It is certainly true, if we've been involved in religious error, we need to repent of that and follow the teachings of the apostles of Christ. But that may be just part of what we must do. It is not just a change that is called for in conversion - IT IS A SPECIFIC CHOICE TO LEAVE SIN, TRUST IN CHRIST AND START FOLLOWING HIM.
The invitation is COME TO ME, and that means a choice is made to leave sin, walk away from error and come to Jesus Christ. And you cannot read about Jesus with an honest heart without being motivated to come to Him. Now you may read about Him merely out of some academic interests, or intellectual curiosity. The knowledge you gain from that kind of study may never result in any conversion or salvation.
But when you open your mind - when your heart is good - when you know you need something better in life, and you read about Christ - you are motivated to change your direction, give up the sin in your life and COME TO HIM.
He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart." How true that is. And if you have read about Jesus you know this to be true. You've read about Him at the home of Mary and Martha at Bethany; you have considered His attitude toward Peter, before and after Peter's fall. In the story of His life and His work you have tasted the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Don't ever forget that.
THE PEOPLE ADDRESSED: "All who labor & are heavy laden."
Because of the burden of sin the soul of the sinner is weary. Our self-will and our sin does not provide us with peace, or ease or freedom. Our efforts to assert ourselves against God; our work to do the devil's will - ALL OF THAT PLACES A TREMENDOUS BURDEN ON THE HEART, THE LIFE AND THE SOUL .... We are heavy laden - and we labor under this toil and burden of attempting to live under our own will and guidance. Jesus wants to help us OUT FROM UNDER THAT BURDEN !!
Jesus is a friend to sinners. At the house of Simon, a Pharisee, Jesus was approached by a sinful woman. She brought an alabaster box of ointment, stood at His feet behind Him, weeping, washing his feet with tears, wiping them with her hair, kissing His feet and anointing them with the ointment. Simon was watching and he thought to himself: "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner." Jesus spoke to Simon and illustrated the sinful woman's situation; He rebuked Simon for his own lack of hospitality and common courtesy. And He demonstrated that He was a friend of sinners, by saying to the woman: "Thy sins be forgiven Thee," (Lk. 7:36-50).
On another occasion, the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman which they said they had caught in the act of adultery (we must assume there was a guilty man, but he was absent). The Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus, to see what He would do. The law said that such a person should be stoned. These men wanted to tempt and accuse Jesus by asking Him about this woman. Jesus replied: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." One by one, they left the scene. When Jesus and the woman were left alone, He asked her: "Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She replied: "No man, Lord." He said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more," (Jno. 8:1-11).
Now, it should be said, some of the Lord's critics distorted and mis-interpreted His friendship toward sinners. They called Him a "friend of sinners," in Matt. 11:19 - but didn't intend that as a compliment. They implied this was a matter of compromise or that He was in some way, overlooking their wickedness. We know Jesus was a friend of sinners in a much higher sense; He described it in terms of a physician treating the ill; He said to the guilty woman, "sin no more." His association with sinners was not to encourage them in sin, but to discourage them; teach them; help them and save them. He was not a partaker with them in their sin. He came and approached them as their loving Master, their teacher and Savior.
Jesus - more than anyone - cares about those who labor and are heavy laden under the awful burden of sin. He offers pardon to the guilty. He provides purity to the unholy. He wants to give nourishment to the needy. And He wants to lift this burden from us; the burden of sin.
He does not address Himself, here in Matt. 11, to those who feel themselves righteous and worthy. He did not spend much time with the proud, the religious police, the hypocrites who willed not to believe. He addresses "all who labor and are heavy laden." These are people like Saul in Acts 9:6 who said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
These are people who feel a load on their life - whoever they may be. These are people who know their anxiety and acknowledge their remorse and know they need rest.
THE PROMISE is: "I Will Give You Rest."
Unrest is one great characteristic of the world. We are in a hurry but we don't know where we are going. There is failure, disappointment and neglect staring us in the face. But we cannot seem to admit there is rest only in Christ: rest of conscience; rest of hope; rest and comfort and peace - IN CONTRAST TO THE UNSETTLING NATURE OF SIN.
And would you notice this is not like, I HAVE SOMETHING AND MAYBE YOU WILL FIND IT. If we come to Him we will find it. Observe the full force of the two expressions: "I will give you rest ... and you shall find rest!" Jesus is what we need and when we come to Him as He says, there isn't any doubt about the results: I will give you rest & you shall find rest.
But, we must believe in Him and make the personal choice to come to Him in obedience.
THE REQUIREMENT is taught in four key words: "Come... Take... Learn... Find!"
These words clearly tell us what we ought to do, in responding to this invitation and we need to know, we cannot have the promised rest Jesus wants us to have if we do not do what Jesus tells us to do!!
Consider that. We cannot have what Jesus wants us to have if we do not do what Jesus tells us to do!! So, those under the load of sin need to come to Christ, take his yoke, learn of him and find the rest they need.
In the book of Acts you can read about people who did this. Beginning on the Day of Pentecost we read of this. Peter preached the gospel of Christ. There were many present in Jerusalem who were loaded down under sin. They heard Peter preach. They believed in Christ, and when Peter said "Repent and be baptized," THEY DID THAT ... and after their baptism Luke says they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine.
WHAT WERE THEY DOING? They were coming to Christ, taking His yoke, learning of Him and finding rest for their souls. Every other case of conversion in Acts is the same.
Consider TAKING THIS YOKE. This is not about getting rid of one load in exchange for another load; that isn't the idea. And I don't believe we should view this as being harnessed to one side of a yoke, with Christ on the other side where I pull my half, and He pulls the other half. No - that's not it.
I believe all we need to see in the yoke is SUBMISSION AND GUIDANCE; as we submit to Christ, we are guided in exactly the path and the work that is right before God! When you decide to get serious about Jesus Christ -- when you believe in Him, and then do what He says... obeying the gospel and living as His disciple -- YOU ARE COMING TO HIM... YOU ARE TAKING HIS YOKE... YOU ARE LEARNING AND YOU ARE FINDING REST FOR YOUR SOUL.
Finally He said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." This doesn't mean - no effort is required. This doesn't mean that everything about being a Christian is smooth and painless.
But if you are wearing this yoke and you are being led in exactly the work that pleases God, there is a deep, inner delight; there is a joy that in stark contrast to - the offensive yoke of the Pharisees or any other human religious system.
When you read and study about WHO JESUS IS and WHAT JESUS DID; when you read about His life, His work; His death, burial and resurrection - don't ever leave this out:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 6.3; March 1999