Jesus understood how quickly we can be weighed down with cares and burdens, and this is why He gives us a solid foundation to stand on during the uncertainties of life. Matthew is the only writer of the four Gospels who preserved this hope filled promise from Christ. How thankful I am for it in my own life and pastoral ministry. When you read it slowly and carefully, it can breathe fresh hope into your soul. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Let’s unfold this verse phrase by phrase to see its beauty and strength.
Come to Me
This phrase is so simple yet so often overlooked. How easy it is for us to turn to others in difficulties. We seek out friends and family who may be able to help us, rather than turning to Christ first. Jesus’ invitation is straightforward. He says, “Come to Me.”
Have you asked others to pray for you, yet neglected to pray yourself? I have been guilty of this. I remember one time several years ago when I faced a difficult situation. I called several friends to pray for me…so many that I had to think to myself, “Who else can I call to pray for me?” All of a sudden, the Holy Spirit said to me heart, “Chad, you are asking everyone to pray for you, but not once have you asked Me to help you! Not once have you prayed!” I was embarrassed when I realized this and immediately asked the Lord to forgive me and help me.
“Come to Me” is a powerful invitation, but we so often neglect it. Think about this, the most powerful and important people in the world are inaccessible to us. Try calling the White House to see if you can speak to the President. Try calling the president of your local power company and see if you can get past the assistant? Odd are, you can’t. Yet the King of kings and Lord of lords gives us this powerful and profound invitation, “Come to Me.” Do we take advantage of bringing our needs to the Lord or do we carry them ourselves?
All Who Labor and are Heavy Laden
“All who labor and are heavy laden.” Jesus didn’t say the super spiritual, nor the religious or even those who have life figured out and all together. No! Everyone who is burdened and weary. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus doesn’t describe the burden. He doesn’t say if it is financial, emotional, spiritual, relational or any other description. I wonder why He is not more specific?
I think it is because it does not matter what the burden is. Christ understands and He offers rest. If your burden is financial, Christ has the provision. If you’re burden is physical, Christ has the healing. If your burden is relational, Christ has the love, grace and help you need. If your weight is sin, Christ has forgiveness. Whatever your burden is…give it to Christ. He is our burden bearer!
So what is it that is weighing you down? What is it that is heavy upon you? Is it guilt, condemnation, shame? Take it to Jesus. He offers help by saying, “Come to Me.” If you are heavy laden with cares and burdens, you’re Jesus’ target audience and He is waiting for you to approach Him with your needs.
And I Will Give You Rest
What is the rest of the Lord? The Greek word for “rest” in Matthew 11:28 is, anapauo. It means, “to refresh, rest up,” and also “to cease from labor.” This is very special because the rest Christ gives is deeper than a good night’s sleep. It’s far greater than a vacation or a get away. The rest, the anapauo, Christ gives is a rest of the soul.
A good night’s sleep or a well rested vacation cannot solve life’s cares. It was Andrew Murray, the faithful missionary in South Africa of the 1800’s who would say, “God is much like our bed. In Him we can lay down and rest.” Has your soul laid down in God and found its rest?
Sin, Salvation & Life’s Cares
Salvation is at the heart of this text. For if you have trusted in Christ for the salvation of your soul, then how much easier is it to trust in Him for the needs you have in life? Surely if He can save your soul, He can meet whatever challenges life has to offer.
If you are someone who is carrying the weight of sin, this is the true rest Christ can give you. When you come to Jesus there is a beautiful exchange that takes place. He says, “Come to Me.” We give Him our cares and the sin that is heavy laden to us, and what does Christ offer us? He says, “And I will give him rest.” Beautiful.
Notice Christ says, “I” again showing that our greatest need is Jesus and He is able to meet it. Then Christ says, “I will give YOU.” Oh how personal. Like me, you get junk mail all the time. But how different is it when you get a personal letter. When someone has written your name and mailed you something that is personally to you? Yes, Jesus says, “I will give YOU rest.” What a close and personal Savior Jesus is!
What are you waiting for? Give your all to Christ now. Give Him your soul. Give Him your sin. Give Him your cares. Give Him your needs. I leave you with a wonderful thought from Charles Spurgeon, “The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.”