Come to Me

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus makes the following invitation: 28Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. In these verses, Jesus promises two kinds of rest. The first rest is given freely, the second is received if a condition is met.

Come to Me: Rest for Free

Many Jews rejected Jesus during his first coming (Mat 11:16-19; cf. 12:23-32). Even cities, where Jesus performed many of his mighty deeds, rejected Him (Mat 11:20-24). In the midst of such rejection, Jesus makes this invitation to all and sundry: Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Jesus’ invitation is made to all. Each and every sinner has received a personal invitation to come to Jesus. He is not holding back on anyone. Jesus is willing that all “come to Me” – and in John 6:37, He also promised that “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out”. You are not invited to first go and clean your cupboards, to first perform good works before you go to Him, or to first improve your Bible knowledge, etc. These things are important, in its time, but they don’t come first. Come as you are. The invitation is to first come to Jesus.

How do the people look who go to Jesus? There are two broad categories. Those who labour are trying to find rest by doing works. Perhaps you want to call this religion: humankind working to towards God, humankind working to appease God. But this won’t give you rest. Maybe you have gained worldly power but you still have lack. Maybe you have studied but knowledge doesn’t satisfy. Perhaps you’ve been busy making money, but these cares weigh you down. Or you have been trying to find rest by being good, trying to be accepted, trying to fit in, to look good enough…but no rest.

Then there are those who are heavy burdened. As a slave to sin, you are heavy burdened. Maybe you’re ashamed of what you’ve done. Your conscience eats at you. There is sin and you carry it day by day. You too have not found rest.

It is precisely these kind of people – which it to say: all of us – that Jesus invites, “Come to Me”. If you come to Jesus, He will give you rest, for free. Put your trust in Jesus and go to Him. You must not try to work for this rest, for you can’t earn what He gracefully gives. Only Jesus can give you rest.

Learn of Me: Rest, on Condition

There is, however, a second rest on offer. What He offers you and me is rest for our souls. The first rest was for free, but the second rest is conditional. There is a discovery to be made (“you will find”), but the terms or conditions must be met. Jesus said:

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.

The first words Jesus said here are, “Take My yoke”. Whatever that yoke is, believers must take it, and take it willingly at once. But you say: I laboured and was heavy burdened and now I must take another yoke? Yes indeed. For we laboured as slaves, burdened under sin. We were not free outside of Christ, we were slaves to sin. But now that Christ has set us free from the penalty of sin, we need to take His yoke as disciples.

For the Jews who lived at the time of Christ’s first coming, the words “Take My yoke” was understood to be a call to “Go to school”. If one is to find rest for your soul, a level of study and commitment is required – we become learners of Christ, we go to His school.

But to study what? The whole discipleship course is placed before us: Learn from Jesus for He is gentle and lowly in heart. This is not a course primarily to increase knowledge or wisdom (although that is certainly part of it). The main objective is that our internal character be conformed to that of Jesus Christ. And Jesus tells us up-front what that means: “Learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly in heart”.

To be gentle (or meek) is to have a quiet confidence in God. It is a recognition of and submission to God’s authority and will. It is neither cowardice nor passivity. Gentleness/meekness relates to the active yoke of labour. How we need the meekness of Christ to take this yoke and labour for Christ! This grace of gentleness we receive from Jesus as we learn from Him. Without Christ’s grace of gentleness wrought in us by the work of the Holy Spirit, we will not find rest in working for God. Our pride will defend ourselves; we will be irritated for not being appreciated as we should. The un-gentle or ferocious spirit will find fault, hear every sharp word and be willing to call down fire from heaven to show its disapproval. The so-called self-sufficient flesh will strive yet again in its complete insufficiency. We need the gentleness of Christ to take this yoke to actively labour for Him. The gentle spirit works for Christ but that manifests itself in working for the good of others. This gentleness therefore denies itself; it doesn’t expect to be treated well for the Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. With quiet confidence in God, the gentle take the yoke of Jesus and labours for Christ.

Lowliness of heart is to have a right and proper evaluation of oneself in relation to God. Lowliness is related to passively carrying a burden — and Jesus promised that such burden is easy and light. Humility is essential, for it alone takes the right attitude before God, allowing Him to do all. The lowly heart acquiesces in the divine will. It is willing to be low, willing to serve. It does not seek great things for itself, but rather wants Christ to be exalted and, one day, for Christ to say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant”. This grace of lowliness of heart we also learn and receive from Jesus.

When these qualities of Jesus are wrought in us, Jesus makes us a promise: You will find rest for your souls.


A new year is ahead of us: 2019.

Jesus invites all who labour and are heavy laden to come to Him — and He promises rest, for free. Let all who have never yet come to Jesus, respond to His invitation:

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest

And for those of us who have already been saved, will you not learn of Jesus and take His yoke? If we do so, Jesus promised us that we will then find rest for your souls.

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.

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Photo credit: Samantha Sophia on Unsplash   @samanthasophia 

Used with permission.