In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In these verses, we see that people can be tired from many things:
- Troubles in this life (our burdens)
- Trying to be a good person
- Trying to deny that there is a God and find something else to believe in or some way to explain things
- Our sin’s consequences
I want to expand on verse 28:
Jesus is always ready to accept us just as we are, but He gives us free will to choose Him or to reject Him—He is a gentleman and He is respectful of our choices. Because of this though, the people who choose not to ask Jesus to forgive them will not get to go to Heaven because they didn’t make the choice to accept what Jesus offers and follow Him.
This world offers many choices. They say that you can believe anything you want to or believe in nothing at all. You guys have probably seen bumper stickers that say BELIEVE or FAITH or some word made up of various religious symbols. But really, you can’t say that all religions are right or that they are all the same because they all contradict each other.
The Bible teaches us that there is only one way to get to God—we have to give up trying to be all that and tell God that we need Him to do what we can’t—to take care of our sins.
One day we will all stand before God. First, we will be judged on whether we have a real relationship with God. That will decide if we will spend eternity with God in an amazing place He’s created called Heaven, or if He is going to have to honor our choice not to be with Him and allow you to be in Hell. Only after that are we going to be judged on what we did—the good things like helping other people or doing religious things like going to church or getting baptized or any of those other “good” things as well as for the bad things that we’ve done. You see, there’s nothing other than having a real relationship with Jesus that can get you into Heaven.
God wants everyone to come. Anyone who is willing to accept His invitation is invited. He didn’t say you have to change first, He just said to come. Even if you still have questions or doubts, come.
you who labor
Someone once said that denying the existence of God was like taking one of those giant beach balls and trying to keep it under water. It’s really hard and it takes a lot of work.
Romans 1:20-23 says:
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
This reminds us that deep inside we all know that there is something more. Even if you live in a place that has never heard of Jesus and you don’t even know that the Bible exists, you still know that you didn’t just randomly end up alive. The Bible also says that you are accountable for the knowledge that you have. So anything that you have heard about God or the Bible or even just looking around at the magnificent things He’s made is enough to know that He is worthy of the worship and that we should honor Him with our lives.
and are heavy laden
All of the things that weigh us down and hurt us inside.
and I will give you rest
This doesn’t mean that our life becomes perfect or that we no longer have to deal with temptation or the consequence of our sin, but that God is with us through it all. The Bible says He is working everything out for good. Maybe it’s so that other people will come to know Him or for what will happen in the future. Sometimes we get to see it happen and sometimes we don’t.
In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus said:
29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
A yoke is a device that hooks two animals together at the neck. It was a wooden device that allowed the animals to be able to pull the load. Most of the time, from what I’ve read, they would pick two oxen, etc., that were about the same size and yoke them together. Then they would be able to pull the load and each would bear the same amount of the work and they would both be walking together in the same way.
Another thing I saw really seemed to make sense. I’m not an agricultural scholar and I know nothing about yokes other than what Google brought up, but if this is true, I understand this verse even better than I did before. They said that when they had a young ox, they would yoke it to an older, more experienced ox that was able to pull the load. In this way, the younger ox was able to learn what to do because they were right there, but they were not forced to take on more than they could bear and there burden was not too heavy.
This is an amazing picture that allows us to see how God is calling us to come and learn His ways while walking alongside Him. He is carrying the load, but teaching us how to do so. He doesn’t give us too much and He doesn’t throw it on us all at once. He doesn’t point at the yoke and tell us to get started. He loves us and wants us to be with Him and to learn His ways and promises to only give us what we are able to bear.
But maybe you’re thinking that this doesn’t really apply to you because you have your own thing and aren’t “yoked” to Jesus. The Bible tells us that regardless of how we label ourselves, we are either with God because we started a real relationship with Him, or, even if we don’t like it, we are against God and therefore with Satan. “But I’m not a Satanist!!!!” I’ve heard people say. This is likely true, but here me out. So think of it like when you fill out one of those online forms and a question only has two answers and one is already selected. Say it looked like this:
“Who do you follow?”
o Jesus (must have a personal relationship)
o Satan (default)
So if you go to answer that question, you don’t have any other options and no matter if you say you are Mormon or follow Mohammad’s teaching or if you claim to follow your own path or you tell everyone that you aren’t anything—all of that falls under the category of not Jesus—Satan. The Bible tells us that we are either for or against God—there’s no other option. And by “for” it means that you have made an allegiance to God. If not, you’re automatically an enemy and you’re on Satan’s side.
So, my point in all that is to say you are already yoked and it’s a heavy burden you are carrying and there is no one there to make sure that you have help or that it’s not too much.
If we yoke ourselves to Jesus, He removes that burden of our sin by forgiving us and He gives us the power to resist temptation.
Some people think that serving God is really hard because you have to follow a bunch of rules and be a good person. They also think that you have to stop doing things you like. When it comes down to it though, God wants us to change for our good. When we think about changing, it often seems impossible, but it’s not up to us to change ourselves because God will slowly change us and help us to be more like what He made us to be.
Think about this picture:
Cinderella. What did she look like? She was covered with cinders; she didn’t wear fancy clothes or shoes. She wore rags and she just didn’t look very beautiful. Now, when she married Prince Charming, she didn’t continue to wear a rag dress stained with cinders, did she? He provided things to make her look like the wife of royalty: a beautiful dress, hoes, a lovely way to do up her hair, makeup—everything to make her look like a true queen. We must realize that he didn’t wait until she was all dolled up to decide to love her, but he loved her so much that he wanted her to look as beautiful to everyone else as he saw her as.
In the same way, God loves us just as we are right now, but He doesn’t want to leave us in the same ugly state that He found us. Instead, when we tell Him that we want a relationship with Him and we are truly willing to be His, He hands us something beautiful and says “Will you wear this for me? You’ll look gorgeous.”. He hands us a beautiful gown of righteousness in trade for our dress of efforts to be good enough that’s stained with each of our wrongs. He gives us Fruit of the Spirit jewelry and asks us to put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Throughout the Bible, God tells us that He loves us and thinks good thoughts about us. He also loves to bless us with good things. This is the God who is calling you to come and follow Him. He wants us to give up struggling and striving to ignore that there is a God or to try to be enough without Him and allow Him to love us and save us.