Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
We have reflected on Egypt as the place of our bondage, and the Exodus as literally “the departure” or “the way out” (Greek: exodus). We make our long journey through the Wilderness towards God’s promised rest. In today’s text Jesus rereads the ancient story and offers God’s rest. Any who are burdened by life and weighed down by rules and legalism can find rest for their souls.
The contemporary rendering of this text by The Message provides an excellent rereading of Jesus’ words for listeners today:
Are you worn tired? Worn out? Burned out of religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30).
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had strapped rules and regulations on people’s backs that were like heavy burdens. Faith in the Living God was rendered into lists of no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t! The people were spiritually exhausted! They staggered under the crushing weight of trying to earn God’s love, trying to be good enough. These are the people that Jesus invites to “rest”. Drop the load! Relax! Walk with Him.
Jesus’ rest awaits us not only in heaven, but in the present process and experience of living into His grace. Rest never comes from increased devotion, commitment, or even good works. Rest is found in accepting and living in the dynamics of God’s amazing grace-rest.
So drop the load! Rest! Rest in Jesus’ redeeming, liberating love poured out on His cross for you.
- Have you ever been “burned out” on religion, or found it to be a burden? If so, explain.
- Does the Christian life feel like rest to you? Why or why not?
- Take some moments to reflect on today’s text listening for Jesus’ word for you.