What’s the first thing that truly comes to your mind when you read Matthew 11:28?

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Does your response lean toward a cynical, “Yeah right. Must be nice”? Maybe you naturally respond with hope swelling inside that you might be able to receive this rest you long for. Perhaps your response is a resounding, “YES and AMEN!” 

Wherever you land as you respond to this verse, let’s talk about this concept of “rest” that has taken on quite the narrative in our culture. We have some myths to bust, and we have some Truth to dive back into so we can pursue the right kind of rest that is accessible here and now from a God who offers it to us freely.

What Rest Isn’t

In today’s culture, rest can be closely related to (and dependent on) how many hours you sleep, how quiet your surroundings are, the number of times you get to sneak away for a spa day, and your general level of relaxation. 

And yet, we don’t find those kinds of definitions when we read Scripture. How can we find true rest when we’re not promised those things? If rest isn’t just about sleep and spa days, then what is Jesus promising us in Matthew 11?

What Rest Is

We find a clue for what rest is as we continue reading in Matthew 11:29-30.

“Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

How is it that we are finding rest for our souls by tethering a wooden beam across our necks for manual labor? This verse can feel a little paradoxical, and yet the words Jesus uses are rest, easy, and light. There’s something worth pursuing here if you want to truly find rest for your soul.

When we take a step back and consider the state of our souls before life with Jesus, we are already wearing a yoke. We’re yoked with our sinful nature, our flesh, our independence, our self-reliance. And it’s anything but “rest,” “easy,” and “light.” It’s destroying us. It’s not how we were meant to live. 

So, when Jesus offers us His yoke, it’s not putting on a new burden. It’s actually taking off our old, burdensome yoke and replacing it with His way of life. Just as oxen walk side-by-side, so Jesus offers to walk side-by-side with us as we pursue His way of life. And as we do this, as we begin to walk like Jesus, listen to Jesus, live like He lives, we begin to feel the rest for our weary souls. Because Jesus created us to live in His presence. 

Whose yoke are you wearing today?

Are you bound and burdened by your schedule, your independence, your finances, or other priorities weighing you down? Take that yoke off. 

Take up Jesus’ yoke today. Learn from Him. Walk beside Him. Listen to Him. You’ll begin to be discipled by your loving Father who desires rest for your weary soul.