2018 01 14 Gordon Green Rest in Christ
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 REST IN JESUS (Part 2)

Redhill. 14 January 2018. Presented by Gordon Green

Matthew 11:27-30

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, 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.

 

Jesus is giving us a very personal invitation (and command) to come to him. If you are

mentally, physically and emotionally worn out because of your worries, challenging circumstances, past hurts, sins, difficult relationships etc he promises to give you rest. But he doesn’t stop there. He also says; Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. What does he mean? And then he says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. What does that mean?  How can a burden be light?

 

Take up my yoke

A yoke was a wooden bar placed across the necks of a pair of animals, usually oxen, to enable them to pull a load together. It is a picture of sharing, walking together and being with Jesus.

 

Learn from me

Jesus’ call involves a relationship. This is made clear when Jesus says we are to learn from him. Jesus isn’t calling us to join a large class, but into a personal, one-on-one, dynamic, close, daily relationship. Jesus is inviting us to follow him, step by step, into salvation, strength, and soul-rest. Being yoked with Jesus for life means that we will walk through life on a journey with Jesus and as we do so we learn more and more about who he is and who we are. It is about being mentored, directed, guided, and equipped by the only One who can give us rest.

 

I am gentle and humble

Jesus says he is gentle which can be translated meek (like Moses, Blessed are the meek). Humility describes someone willingly dependent on another, trusting, yielding fully to the other. It is someone  who is open-handed and so receiving from another. This is a comforting, reassuring picture.

 

You will find rest for your souls

Jesus assures us that in sharing his yoke and burden, and therefore learning from him, we will be given rest. He repeats the word “rest” but the second time he says he desires to give us soul rest, which is a rest that reaches down to the core of who we are which gives us refreshment, wholeness and healing. Rest is connected with the Hebrew idea of shalom which means peace.   

 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light

What is Jesus saying? And remember we’ve learnt that yoke means sharing etc. What are we sharing with him? He says his yoke is easy which means useful, kind or well-fitted. It conveys the idea of that which is kind and good at the same time. Jesus is not going to jerk us around.  He will give us what we really need (not just what we want) and take us where he’s going—but he’ll be patient and gentle in doing so. He will give us the very best he has for us as we walk with him, day-by-day.

 

How can a burden be light?

But Jesus says he also has a burden. What is this burden?  And how can a burden be “light”? A burden is something that causes us to be overloaded, tired, anxious, weighed down. And notice; Jesus calls us to take up his yoke, his burden, not “a”, or even “the” burden he has for us, but the one that is his own. So how can this burden be light? By speaking of a yoke, and not just a burden, Jesus is indicating that his intention is that we share with him what he possesses. What is that?

To understand this seemingly contradictory statement, we must look at verse 27:

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. (Msg)

 

This verse is about Jesus’ relationship with his Father which is about giving and receiving. He uses the word “knows” which implies personal, intimate knowing - deep, eternal intimacy. Remember: “humble” describes someone willingly dependent on another, so that he or she is looking away from themselves in order to trust fully in the other and yielded to another—open-handed and so receiving from another. In verse 27 Jesus says he has received all things from his giving Father. Jesus is the “receiving one”. Jesus enjoys living in the rest that comes from living in the knowing, loving, giving relationship he has with his Father. You could say that Jesus is yoked to his Father and this yoking is dynamic and continual - from eternity. He has existed from eternity in a real relationship of giving and receiving from the Father. He said that he and his Father are one. Jesus is gentle and humble because he is yielded to his Father, secure in his father’s love.

 

What is Jesus’ burden?

It is this relationship that Jesus is enjoying all the time with his Father—that is his burden or yoke.  He has come to reveal and enable us to share in it. So his burden is about sharing with us that which we can partake in this loving relationship he gives us, to share in his communion with the Father. This is a very different type of burden that makes you tired and not experience soul rest. This is receiving all that God is giving us in Jesus Christ. He receives from the Father and it is in our relationship with him that he enables us to share in his receiving from the Father. That’s the light and easy burden of being yoked with him. So when Jesus invites us to be yoked to him he is inviting us to share in bearing his “load.” He isn’t wanting to give us something and then leave us with it. Do you see the picture here? Implicit in Jesus’ command to come, take up his yoke and learn from him is the command to put down the burdens we have. We put them down and hand them over to Jesus (Ps 55:22; Ps 50:15; Heb 4:16; 1Peter 5:7).

 

Jesus doesn’t offer his burden and yoke to add to the burdens and yokes we already are bearing. Nor does he give advice on how to more efficiently or effectively carry our burdens so they seem lighter. He won’t load us up with another burden that’s just a bit lighter than the ones we already are carrying. There is a big difference between our burdens and the burden Jesus has for us. It seems that Jesus is calling us to a “burden exchange.” But we can’t receive what Jesus is giving us when our hands are full—when we are focused on the burdens weighing us down. So the implication here is that Jesus is saying to us; “Put down your burdens, give them to me and come on a journey with me.” If we try to carry our burdens we focus on them and not on Jesus. We don’t listen to him and we forget who he is.

 

These burdens we are holding onto get in the way of receiving what Jesus is actually giving us

God is sharing with us his wonderful relationship of love and the rest that is the fruit of that love. Jesus wants to share with us his receiving gentleness, his Father-minded, self-forgetful meekness.

Jesus’ command to come to him is present tense meaning it is a continuing action. We are to continue to come to him again and again – not just when we have trials – but we need to learn to live out of being yoked to Jesus Christ – our daily rest. Don’t just come once but we continue to come, over and over. This is because living yoked (“abide”) to Jesus is what the Christian life is all about. Purposely take up his wonderful life-giving yoke each day. Jesus is committed to enabling us to live in his soul-rest all the time, not just when we need it. To enable us to share his yoke, then, he will be showing us more of what we are still carrying that is actually engendering weariness and so keeping us from living in his rest. Jesus has taken our broken lives—our trials, struggles, sins and fears and made all these his own in order to heal us from the inside-out. Jesus is calling us to himself —to share in his life, his love, his rest. We are called to carry just one burden - Jesus’ burden.

Every morning and throughout the day, remind yourself that Jesus is inviting us to come to him to know him more and trust him more deeply with all of our lives. Remember this is a real, dynamic relationship - a process. Learning to live in his rest takes time but as we do so our relationship with him deepens. But Jesus continues to call all who are weary and burdened down to share his good, fitting, kind yoke—his light burden, which is about continually learning from him, the one who is willing to be yoked with us and so to teach us, share life with us. We hear again in this passage the delight in his voice calling us to his side —his invitation to share his yoke with our Father and so to live in his rest by the Holy Spirit. What other burden would you want to have compared to that one?

 

Jesus is saying to you “Come to me”.

Are you responding to his invitation?

His personal invitation?

 

 

 

 



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