Rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:25-30)
Vicar Christopher Stout

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)”

Exhausted, burdened, and burned out?  How well does this description fit you?  Society seems to understand such dangers. There’s national holidays, paid vacation, winter and summer breaks in school.  Most work weeks have one or two days off for your mind and body to recover.  Our bodies understand the need, too.  You can only push your body so hard before you need to just go to sleep, to just sit down and put your feet up, to just rest. 

Exhausted in mind and body, burdened with guilt or sin, burned out from life and its constant demands that push and push so hard and fast that you just need to get away; how well does this description fit you?  “Come to me…and I will give you rest (11:28).”  These few words of Jesus seem to strike a chord with us in a profound way.  “Have you been laboring and working too much?  Aren’t you just fatigued? “   “Yes, Jesus.  How well you know me!” “Are you burned out and with heavy pressures of this life’s demands in work, and family, and school and…?”  “You know it, Lord.  You know it even better than I know it myself.”  “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” (11:28-30).

Rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:25-30)
Vicar Christopher Stout

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)”

Exhausted, burdened, and burned out?  How well does this description fit you?  Society seems to understand such dangers. There’s national holidays, paid vacation, winter and summer breaks in school.  Most work weeks have one or two days off for your mind and body to recover.  Our bodies understand the need, too.  You can only push your body so hard before you need to just go to sleep, to just sit down and put your feet up, to just rest. 

Exhausted in mind and body, burdened with guilt or sin, burned out from life and its constant demands that push and push so hard and fast that you just need to get away; how well does this description fit you?  “Come to me…and I will give you rest (11:28).”  These few words of Jesus seem to strike a chord with us in a profound way.  “Have you been laboring and working too much?  Aren’t you just fatigued? “   “Yes, Jesus.  How well you know me!” “Are you burned out and with heavy pressures of this life’s demands in work, and family, and school and…?”  “You know it, Lord.  You know it even better than I know it myself.”  “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” (11:28-30).

Rest in the Scriptures does not bring a mind someone just putting their feet up at the beach with a cool glass of lemonade in their hand.  Rest in the Scriptures is God uniting you with Himself with His Word.  "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" our Lord says in Exodus (Exodus 33:14).  The promise God gives of rest is the promise of His presence for you.

Rest is for those who are weary of the do it right religion that bogs us down.  Rest is for those who are so tired of their constant failure to live up to the expectations that others have for them and that God has for them.  Rest is for those who hear the preaching of the Law and its perfect demands and realize how imperfect they are in every aspect of life they are in.  

God doesn’t call the strong-in-themselves, or the perfect or the wise and understanding.  God calls the weary and weak and tired.  God calls the dependent sinners who cry out “wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death (Rom. 7:24)?”.  God calls those who realize that before Him, they are like children.  “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children’” (11:25).

These words of Jesus about hiding things and revealing and come to me for rest are introduced by this phrase, “At that time.”  At that time, John the Baptist had been imprisoned and would soon be beheaded for preaching “the kingdom of God.”  At that time, it was becoming very clear that so many who heard Jesus preach hated Him and rejected His message.  At that time, Jesus had been proclaiming that He had come not only to bring peace, but also a sword.  Weary from such sites and events, the disciples were certainly asking themselves, “This is the Kingdom of God?  There’s so much rejection, so much hatred for us, so much sin!  Is God even at work here?”

At this time, the sanctity of marriage continues to be threatened through legislative actions across the globe and most recently in New York.  At this time, innocent children in the wombs are being slaughtered while the world so often sits idly by.  At this time, there is still so much sin and lust and fear and anger within us.  We so often do not do what we want, but in fact do the very things, the very sins, we hate (Rom. 7:15).  How wearying all this can be!  This is the Kingdom of God?  This is God at work here?

“At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (11:25).  Yes, He is at work, here revealing His things to us, His little ones.  He is here providing rest.  “Come to me…, and I will give you rest.” 

His gracious invitation is also a bold rebuke to those who lay heavy burdens on us.  His gracious invitation is a bold rebuke to us who so often burden ourselves. “Come to me,” Jesus says.  “Don’t go to them who throw your sins in your face and simply preach to you to just be better.  Come to me.  Don’t look within yourself, who can so often dwell on your failures and mistakes.  No!  You only burden yourself more.  Come to me.  I am gentle and lowly in heart.  I have taken your heavy burdens, your yokes, your sins upon my own shoulders and bore them to the cross.  Learn from me of the guilt and the shame that I have bore for you on Calvary.  No work for you to earn your rest because my perfect work for you is finished.”

“Come to me,” for rest for your souls.  It’s not a “conjure up enough in yourself to come to Jesus” invitation.  It’s not a “be wise enough or understanding enough or childlike enough to receive His gifts” command.  It’s an “I came to you, and I come to you and bring you to me” declaration.  As He has already spoken to us that he reveals to little children, it’s as if as a gracious big brother, He declares “Come to me”, while at the same time reaching all the way down to pick us infants up to bring us to Him. 

Exhausted, burdened, and burned out; how well does this description fit you?  Come to Jesus as He reveals to you His love and the love of His Father.   “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” (Matthew 11:27) – all things, all your sins, all your selfish and burdening imperfect works have been handed over to Jesus and for that the Lord of heaven and earth handed over Jesus to death.  His death is your rest. 

“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son reveals Him” (Matthew 11:27).  His death is His revealing of His giving Himself for you.  His Supper is His revelation of the rest He is here to give to you now.  Worthy guests are those who have struggles with sin and are troubled and weak and weary and know it.   

Exhausted, burdened and burned out.  “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.”  

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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