Rest for the Burdened

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. – Matthew 11:28-30

For my final blog in our “Come Lord Jesus” theme, I want to explore this passage in which Jesus reveals his heart toward those who are burdened.

In his book, Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund reflects on how Jesus described himself in this passage: gentle and lowly. He points out that the Greek word here translated as gentle can also be translated as “meek” or “humble.” He says, “Meek. Humble. Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the must understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger, but open arms” (p. 19).

Scripture tells us that Jesus can identify with all our struggles, sins and temptations because he bore it all (in one way or another) during his incarnate life on earth. Our God isn’t distant or indifferent. He knows the weight of shame you carry. He knows what it’s like to lose it all. He knows rejection and isolation. Like no one else, he can empathize.

Reflecting on the term “lowly,” Ortlund goes on to say, “The point in saying that Jesus is lowly is that he is accessible. For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, his supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ" (p. 20).

Often we feel like we’ve got to get things together before we can enter God’s presence. We’ve got to do some stuff for him before we can ask anything of him. Not so! Jesus’ door is always open. He always wants to hear from us, receive us, listen to us, and be with us. The invitation to come is to, “all who labor and are heavy burdened.” No one is excluded from that list.

And what does Jesus promise those who come to him? Rest. Ortlund highlights Jesus’ words this way, “’I will give you rest.’ His rest is a gift, not a transaction.” The only prerequisite for receiving the rest that Jesus offers is to come. No earning. No minimum Bible-reading requirement. Just come.

This doesn’t mean that Jesus is a magic wand to immediately fix all of our problems, but he does want to shoulder our burdens with us and for us and, in exchange, give us rest. Sounds like a refreshing invitation, doesn’t it? Make some time to enter Jesus’ soul-refreshing presence this week.

I’ve got no answers for heartbreaks and cancers, but a savior who suffers them with me.
-John Mark McMillan (The Road, The Rocks and The Weeds).

Sean's Picks

Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
This book is just fantastic. It's theologically deep. It's personally moving and refreshing. Short chapters and the style of writing make it accessible for anyone. Discover God's deepest heart for you as revealed in the pages of his word. Click Image below for more:
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