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  • Rohingya Christian


Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Text: Matthew 11: 28-30

“Come to me…” Jesus doesn’t say “work toward me.” He doesn’t say, “earn me.” He doesn’t say, “deserve me.” He says, “come to me.”

What does it mean to come to Jesus? In this verse, the word come isn’t only a command; it’s also an exclamation. Someone saithe guys, I’m over here!” We’re running around everywhere, going from one place to another, trying to make our life work, and we’re just not noticing the gentle and lowly Savior sitting right before our eyes offering everything we’re longing for. The truth is, Jesus isn’t hard to find. He’s made himself available. And he wants to get our attention because who he is the one thing we most need.

“Come” is a present tense command here. Jesus isn’t asking us to come tomorrow or the next day or someday out in the future, but today. Come today. Leave your self-reliant efforts today. Leave your sins today. Leave your burdens today, and come. Rest is here right now for you. Just come. In a world that demands our learning, our doing, our working before anything else, Jesus asks only first for our coming. Our new life begins right there just by coming to him.

Yet even still, we find a way to complicate this, don’t we? We imagine some hard conditions, some preliminary work, some qualifications or prerequisites, but Jesus asks us only to come as we are, with all that we are. If we were to write this on his behalf, I think we might be tempted to put a filter after that first phrase, wouldn’t we? How would you write it? “Come to me.” Now, maybe we put a filter on that for others, but often we put a filter on it for ourselves. We think we can’t possibly come to Jesus. How could we? Look at us! But who gave us the right to add to God’s word, to change God’s word? What does Jesus say? “Come to me, all…” Jesus uses a word here big enough to include every type of sinner in the world, every type of sufferer in the world, a word so big and so inclusive that everyone who has ever lived fits inside of the “all.” The gospel Jesus brings is a worldwide invitation. It has no cultural limits or national limits or even sin limits.

Here are the only qualifications: “All who labour and are heavy laden…” Other translations read “All who are weary and heavy laden.” That’s a good translation too. If you’re working yourself to death trying to fix your life (labour) or if your life is weighed down by something outside your control (heavy laden), Jesus calls you to himself. Isn’t that amazing? Here’s Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power, offering himself to who? The worn out and pressed down, the weary and burdened. The needy. I mean, he could go anywhere. He could go to the powerful, the impressive, the might. But where does he go? To the needy. To the lowly. To the people who can’t figure life out and don’t know what else to do or where else to go. To the very people he must call to attention because they can’t seem to slow down enough to look his way. You and me. Us.

Here’s one amazing truth about the gospel that runs counter to every other religion: the needier you are, the more perfect you are for Jesus. There are no self-made Christians. There are only needy people who collapse at the feet of Jesus and let him lift them up.

If you are exhausted from working only to fail, from obeying only to sin again, from pushing the rock up the hill only to have it fall back on top of you, you are invited to Jesus. If you feel a heaviness on your heart that you want to be free of, sin or sorrow or anxiety or remorse or memories or uncertainties or whatever, you are invited to Jesus. The qualifications you need are weariness and weightiness. Your need is not a problem for Jesus. You are not adding some burden to him. He is there to unburden you. In fact, your burden is the very thing that delights him. He loves to care for you. You can trust him with who you really are because this passage tells us who he really is: gentle and lowly at heart.

So, you can come to Jesus. And when you come to Jesus and entrust yourself into his care, he gives you something no one else can. Look again at verse 28. “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” Jesus says here something that actually only God can say. In fact, God did say it through the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament (35:21), “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” God didn’t just say something like that one time, he said it multiple times throughout the Old Testament. Here’s what Jesus is saying: he’s saying he is the God of Jeremiah, the God of the Old Testament, he is the God who promised rest and now has come to earth to accomplish the plan of salvation and give it in fullness to his people. Jesus isn’t asking you to deserve it is not way back when you first followed him or right now or ten years in the future when you still fall into sin. This entire passage rests on who Jesus is, not on us. He’s the one making promises. He’s just asking us to trust him, to come to him.

So, when your life falls apart, this is a verse you can come to. When you can’t find rest anywhere else, here is Jesus your savior saying, “Come to me.” When all else fails, he never will. It’s an offer we can’t refuse. We’d be crazy to refuse it.

And as we come, Jesus never leaves us in the same place he found us. He always takes us on a journey with him, which is our second point.

The Pathway of Jesus (v. 29a)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart

Now, given what we just saw, this verse is a bit surprising, isn’t it? Jesus offers rest and then immediately says, “Take my yoke upon you.” He didn’t say “Take my seat” or “Take my bed” or “Take my vacation.” He said, “Take my yoke.” What’s a yoke? A yoke is an agricultural term. Farmers place a yoke on animals to use their strength to plough fields. So, wait a minute. How does this make sense? How is a yoke the natural outflow of the rest that Jesus gives? Well, notice how he calls it his yoke. Not a yoke. Not the law’s yoke. Not some other yoke. His yoke. “Take my yoke upon you.” The yoke of Jesus is vastly different from every other yoke. In verse 30 we see his yoke is easy. It’s not heavy. It’s light.

Now, we need to get something straight right away. There is no such thing as a yoke-less life. It’s just a matter of what we’re yoked to. Coming to Jesus is not a yoke-less life. One look at the Sermon on the Mount or his parables or the Great Commission should rid us of that thought. When we come to Jesus, we come to Jesus as we are, but he changes us into who he is. The yoke we receive from him is not like the yoke of the Pharisees who demanded strict obedience to man-made laws. It’s not the yoke of the world that demands constant change and evolution of views or else. Jesus’s yoke is easy; it’s light.

Jesus’s yoke is light for at least two reasons.

First, his yoke comes along with his teaching. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” To have his yoke means you will be working, and that’s a good thing, despite how it may sound at first. Work is not a result of the Fall. God gave Adam work before he sinned. It actually is part of who we are. We’re designed this way. Someone says, “The cure for a heavy burden is not to have no burden, but a light burden, the right burden. Jesus knows the right burden. He offers rest not by inviting us to do nothing, but by leading us to the right activities.” As we move forward as a church together Jesus will call us to work. He’ll call us to do hard things for him, even suffer for him. But isn’t working with Christ even in suffering better by far than living without him?

Second, his yoke isn’t heavy because of who he is. “For I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Here is what separates Jesus from everyone else. He is gentle and lowly.

The word gentle means pleasant, mild, soothing, friendly. It’s the opposite of rough, hard, and violent. Jesus is not out to get you. His most foundational disposition is not to destroy you, but you save you; not to strike you but to comfort you; not to do violence, but to be gentle. When we go the wrong way, he gently redirects. He doesn’t shame us. He doesn’t embarrass us. He gently leads us back to himself, back to the right path, to learn afresh from him, to see him again for who he is, and to fall in love with him all over again through how he loves us.

He’s also lowly. Jesus doesn’t need to be seen as impressive. He is impressive. So, lowliness doesn’t bother him. The word lowly means weak, insignificant, servile. This was not a virtue even in Jesus’s day. It was looked down upon. Who in their right mind would be this way? Well, Jesus would. At his deepest core, Jesus is a servant. He came to serve and not to be served because that’s who he is at heart. He doesn’t mind stooping down to our level, getting inside our messes, dying for our sins. His heart is not limited to what we deserve; it rejoices to serve the unworthy, the guilty, the sinful, the wayward, his children.

We were made to be with God. So, when we come to Jesus and take his yoke upon us, what we actually find is the kind of life we long to live, and we find it together. He becomes not just my savior or your savior but our savior. He joins us together and he begins to use us for his glory. We start getting involved in things we never could have imagined before for his sake. He shows us how to live for him. He carries the load, but he deploys us in mission. He sends out into his fields ripe for harvest to do his work in the world. He’s patient. He’s tenders. He’s open. He’s accommodating. He’s understanding. When we stumble, he picks us up. When we can’t go on, he carries us. When we doubt him, he proves himself? When we fail, we get his success. When we sin, he’s already paid the penalty.

Here’s the amazing thing: Jesus is willing to be yoked to us, and we aren’t holding him back. Even more, he’s happy to be so. He longs to be so. Nothing in him shies away from us. No sin is too great. No weakness too much. No failure too excessive. He comes down to our low place and takes us to his high place. And he doesn’t mangle us on the way. He’s gentle. He knows our frame. He knows because he’s been in the weakness of flesh. But he never sinned, so his strength is far greater than ours. He knows the path, and he will teach us.

Jesus isn’t just talking the talk. He walked the walk. He entered in. He came. Would we imagine God would get down in the field with us and pull the plot? Would we imagine Jesus would make himself nothing to bring us to the Father? Would we imagine the gentleness and lowliness of God would be enough to save us from the strength and stronghold of sin? But so, it is. The gentle and lowly Jesus is our Savior. He’s offering his yoke to teach us his ways, and he’s making a promise, which is our third point.

The Promise from Jesus (vv. 29b-30)

…and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Here is the second time Jesus mentions rest. The first rest was an immediate rest from coming to him. This rest is the rest after the rest. The first rest is given, the second discovered. Yes, given also, but discovered along the way. The first is instant relief. The second is a lifelong journey. It’s the rest of a learner. The rest of the one who after receiving now serves alongside his master. It’s not a physical rest. After all, there is a yoke involved. There is learning involved. Neither is easy. It demands something of us. Jesus doesn’t offer rest for our bodies. What he offers is rest for our souls.

Maybe we’d prefer rest for our bodies. So much of our life is driven by how our body feels. We fall asleep at night because our bodies can’t take any more. I don’t know about you, but even though I fall asleep, I’m always tired. I just got back from vacation. Hours in the car with four kids. Not easy. Laying down in my own bed for the first time in a week was like laying on clouds. My body needed it. But when my dog woke me up in the middle of the night and those thoughts that come out only in the darkness invaded my heart, it didn’t matter how my body felt. My soul needed rest. Yours does too.

Deep inside my soul, there is a need no amount of physical rest can alleviate. There are memories in my past that I don’t want to think about but from time to time they rise to the surface, reminding me that I’m not good at all. There are things I said, or things I didn’t say but should have. There are regrets that won’t fade away. There are wounds that time won’t heal. You know what I’m talking about because you have these things too.

What does Jesus have for us in the midst of that? Rest—at the deepest possible level, at the soul-ish level. Maybe we can’t live with ourselves after what we’ve done, but Jesus paid the penalty for us on the cross, and he’s not holding our sins over our heads. Maybe we can’t forget the pain of the past, but Jesus says that doesn’t have to be our future. He is preparing a place for us in our Father’s house. Maybe we can’t turn off the anxiety of another uncertain day, but Jesus says, “I’m already out there ahead of you. I know how this will end, and no matter what comes, no one can snatch you from my hands.”

We need a rest that stretches further than today. We need eternal rest. We need to know that we can’t ruin this some time out in the future. We need peace of heart peace with God that lasts. We need a clear conscience. We need the removal of guilt. We need shame to disappear. And Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, offers it all. His salvation is total and complete, right now, for us!

Looking forward to Christ’s cross, in Jeremiah 31:34, God tells us what he thinks about his people because of Christ’s atonement. “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” God is not holding our sins over our heads. Jesus’s yoke is easy. Do you see the kindness in this? In fact, the word easy means kind. Jesus is kind to us. His yoke is therefore a kind of non-yoke. It’s not burdensome. It’s easy, kind. It’s the kind of thing that we just long to do—to come under him, to be shepherded by him, to follow him.

Who doesn’t need kindness? How kind Jesus our savior is! His kindness is seen most clearly in the cross. We were weighed down by the burden of sin. We could never obey God perfectly. In fact, we ruined our shot at perfection before we even had the capacity to understand what we did.

So, what then is our hope? It’s Jesus! He came to be our substitute. When Jesus lived on earth, he obeyed God perfectly. He was the one single person in all history to actually earn God’s blessing by his obedience. And what did he do with it? He went to the cross to take God’s curse for sin. He did that for you. If Christ’s cross wasn’t at the center of history, there could be no offer of rest. If Jesus didn’t know for certain he would trade his blessing for our cursing, he would have been the greatest liar in the world to offer rest like this. But he could offer rest then and he can offer rest now because the wrath of God we’re owed for our sin has been fully satisfied in Christ on the cross. He has paid it all. And by coming to him, by accepting Jesus, you are free from the penalty for your sin. All that you deserve was given to Jesus on the cross, so all that Jesus deserves is given to you. Jesus earned eternal rest, and he graciously gives it to you and me just by coming to him.

You can have peace with God! Even if all the world stands against you, you can lay down at night and sleep well because God is for you. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Once Jesus has become your Lord and Savior when those terrible memories pop up again, you can boldly apply the gospel to them. You don’t have to think about them anymore. You don’t have to keep beating yourself up. Maybe you need to apologize to someone, but because of Christ’s cross, you are at peace with God the moment you repent and come to Jesus by faith. You’re free from the past. You’re free in the present. You will be free in the future. You have rest for your soul.

That’s why Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He’s not saying life won’t be hard. There is still a cross to be carried. There will be trials. Jesus promised us that. We have battles to fight and hardships to bear and sufferings to endure. Jesus is not discounting that. What he is saying is that the comforts of the gospel outweigh them all. Jesus offers rest we never thought possible. When we come to him, we come to the answer of our life’s pursuit. It’s him. The most loving, accessible, approachable, kind, gentle, and lowly person in the universe. He’s our Savior. He’s our Lord. He’s our rest.


So, let me close with this. Why am I talking about this in this season that we’re in as a church? Simply this: coming to Jesus moment by moment is the only future we have together. How could it be otherwise? He’s our leader. He’s our Savior. He’s our Lord. He’s our master. He’s the one we follow. We go where ever the Lamb leads. If we don’t receive the real Jesus in his own words, we will be harsh, unkind, and restrictive. It’s just who we naturally are. Thankfully, we are not that way here at Refuge, but let’s not think we couldn’t be.

If we continue to receive the real Jesus in his own words and keep receiving him moment by moment together, there is no end to the joy and love and peace and harmony and risk-taking and cross-bearing that we can experience together with him.

Also, next week we are celebrating new life through baptism. If you’ve never been baptized maybe this passage will compel you to come to Jesus for new life.

All he’s asking is for us to come. Just stop running everywhere else and come to him. Let’s take his yoke upon us, for he is gentle and lowly at heart. The rest we never thought possible is ours in Christ our Saviour.

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