28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Maybe you have already figured this out; all of life is more than you can handle. Jesus doesn’t call on us to carry our heavy burdens alone. What Jesus wants us to do is to give up and surrender to God.
Jesus offers rest to weary and burdened people who come to him.
This is what faith is all about. Everything is more than you can handle on your own. You need to realize that you can’t do it on your own before you can receive the rest that Jesus offers. Jesus is urging people to come to him. Jesus desires to give people rest. He promises to give rest to all the weary and burdened people who come to him.
What did the people in Jesus’ day need rest from?
In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, the scribes, and the Sadducees oversaw the implementation of the Jewish religion. They burdened the people with over 600 rules and regulations to keep people from breaking the actual commands of God. They had rules about what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. They had rules about how far you could walk on the Sabbath and how many sticks you could pick up. They had rules about how to wash your hands properly and how you could divorce your wife legally. They had a dress codes and policies for just about every area of life. The goal was to not let anybody near breaking the rules, but the problem was the rules they had created became the way they thought they achieved holiness. The result was a people who had lost their joy in following God’s ways and they were tired and burdened by these religious leaders.
The sad thing is that we don’t seem to have come very far from that line of thinking. Today, we are still making rules to keep people from breaking the rules. We make rules about what you can and can’t drink, eat, and wear. We make rules about where you can and can’t go and who you can and can’t associate with. We must be careful that in our desire to have pure and holy lives that we do not put restrictions and regulations on people. Why? Because Jesus described his yoke as easy and his burden as light. Jesus promises rest to all of those who come to him who are weary and burdened.
Rest is found in carrying Jesus’ yoke.
Jesus urges us to take up his yoke. Some commentators, when thinking of a yoke, immediately jump to the picture of a yoke of oxen.
They explain the idea that you are on one side of the yoke and Jesus is on the other making the yoke easy and burden light. In other words, Jesus is doing all the work because let’s face it, he is stronger than us. But I don’t think that is the picture that Jesus is painting for his listeners. He didn’t say, “take the yoke on with me.” He said, “Take my yoke and learn from me.” I think his original audience would have understood this to be a single yoke like this…
The yoke belongs to Jesus. It is his yoke and as his followers, we take on his yoke. The question is, what does he want us to carry? He wants us to carry his teachings and in his teachings, we will find rest for our souls.
In Jesus’ teachings, you will find rest.
I want you to get this. This is important. If you are feeling overwhelmed, if life is weighing you down, if you are stressed out, if something or someone is tearing at your spirit, then you are carrying the wrong yoke. If you can’t find relief from your relational problems, if you can’t find rest, if you feel harassed, strained, tense, worried, or nervous, then you are carrying the wrong yoke. How can I say that? Because Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light and if you are carrying his yoke, then you will find rest for your soul no matter what the situation you are facing. If you are living according to his teachings, then you will find rest for your soul. Are you at rest today? What is tugging at you? What are you carrying because if it is too much for you, then you are carrying the wrong yoke.
How are Jesus’ teachings light and restful?
Again, I want you to get this, because this is so important. You can’t do life on your own and you weren’t designed too. All of life is going to be overwhelming, stressful, and burdensome. Jesus knew this and so he gave us his yoke, his teaching and with that comes the indwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is reduced to a code of conduct; a list of do this and don’t do that. Without the Holy Spirit, life doesn’t make sense, problems are overwhelming, burdens are stressful. Without the Holy Spirit, you have no comfort, no counsel, no strength, and no power. The Holy Spirit renews us, transforms us, and empowers us. That problem that seems overwhelming by the power of the Holy Spirit is not. That burden that you carry with the Holy Spirit is light. You will find comfort, counsel, strength, and power that only come through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.