Notice who Jesus invites to His rest here – not the wise, not the capable, not the self-sufficient, not the super mom, nor the super dad. It’s not the people who have it all figured out or those who can do it all themselves.
Jesus invites those who:
The responsibility for their lives and life's circumstances lies squarely on their shoulders, and they can handle whatever comes their way. They are wise and capable.
So, the invitation of Jesus, whether that’s to His rest, His healing, or His salvation, is reserved for those who have come to the end of themselves and recognize their need for a savior, healer, or source of rest.
Do you realize that no one else on earth has rest for their souls apart from those who have turned to Jesus for it? And the degree of rest they receive is proportional to the degree they believe they need it. Therefore, we will only pursue Jesus as desperately as we know we need Him. Our pursuit of Jesus will never outgrow our understanding of our need for Him.
The wise and capable aren’t typically desperate. They won’t truly acknowledge their need for Jesus. But remember, the invitation from Jesus is for those who are desperate and in need of rest. And that invitation is to simply come to Him. He, Himself, is the source of rest. He is the one offering it, and He is the one providing it. Rest for our souls comes only from Him.
This is because the invitation to come to Him comes with a promise. Come to me, and I will give you rest. It’s not conditional on anything else. When we recognize our need for His rest and turn to Him for it, He will provide it. There’s nothing else we need to do. Just surrender our burdens to Him.
So, this is a different rest than a physical one. Spiritual rest often means letting go of the reasons why we work. It’s the surrendering of the perceived control we think we have over the circumstances of our lives. And for most people, it’s one of the reasons why we work so hard and do so much. So, that’s what Jesus is offering rest from.
Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
But then Jesus says something really weird next…
I will give you rest, but here take my yoke upon you and learn from me.
If you’re not familiar with a yoke, it’s a wooden rod that typically has ropes hanging down from either side used to carry heavy objects. For example, in rural areas of developing countries or areas with steep hills and cliffs, you’ll find people who still use a rod that they lay across one or both of their shoulders and the back of their neck and use it to carry large buckets of water suspended by a rope or the bucket handles. That rod is called a yoke.
It's really a perfect visualization of our human nature. As parents, we carry the burden of our children and the worry of their development in this world. And what happens when we raise them to love and serve Jesus, and they turn away from it? We take on an enormous burden because we feel responsible. That’s a yoke of bondage.
Our need for belonging, worth, and safety can't come from ourselves because no matter how many trips we take to the sources that fill the well of our souls, we have to empty resources to get them. This means we will never be completely filled. And what we're filling it with is the temporary love of others or waning successes.
Jesus is the ONLY solution for this.
And as part of giving us rest, Jesus gives us His yoke and His burden in exchange for ours. So, Jesus says, take my yoke and learn from me. The yoke is not work we need to do or burdens we need to carry. But instead, it’s manageable, mild, and pleasant.
His yoke and His burden imply this – sit and learn from Him. Sit at Jesus’s feet and learn from Him. This is simply spending time with Jesus.
When we try to control outcomes that have already been decided, we are busy, not fruitful. And the very act of sitting at Jesus’s feet, being in His presence, will lead to a natural surrender. All the control, anxiety, pressure, and stress is released when we sit at the feet of Jesus.
What are you holding onto that’s keeping you from experiencing rest in your soul?
Surrender it. Let it go. Lay your burdens down and sit at the feet of Jesus. Give them to Jesus in exchange for His rest.