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 centuries, the people of israel had been striving. striving to remain God’s people by keeping the law, sacrificing when they failed, longing to keep God’s presence among them, failing him, rejecting him, returning to him by his grace, failing again. an endless cycle of striving, striving, always striving.
so when Jesus addresses them with a new way, a new covenant, a new perspective for what it means to be a child of God and a chosen race, what sweet, sweet words these must have been for those who had ears to hear. you can stop your striving. i know you are weary with despair. i have come to sympathize your fleshly weakness. i have come to know your temptation. to walk through your life, to taste bodily the brokenness of the world. and i have overcome the world. i have come to break the cycle of striving. i have come to give you rest. so come to me.
he’s giving you and i the same invitation. in Christ, we can have oneness with God. we can have rest from our striving for his love. we can rest fully in the work of Christ and his conquering of sin, death, hell, and satan. of course, this doesn’t mean we stop obeying God’s law. what it does mean is that now his law is our delight. it is our joy. it is out of our love for him. we long to keep his commandments because we’ve tasted the goodness of his ways. this is why his burden is light.
so what about when we fail? because we certainly still do.
1 john 2:1 – we have an advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the righteous. he presents his blood to the Father on our behalf, and we can be confident with him as our representative. in our sin, we need only to fly to our Advocate and lay it down.
hebrews 4:14-16 – since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Jesus Christ, who feels our pain, grieves with us in our sin, and loves us so much that he gladly gave up his own life, acts as our mediator to God. he has made a way for us to enter straight into the holy of holies for grace and mercy. holding fast to our confession means continually repenting of sin because we know that’s the old self, and no longer who we are in Christ Jesus, who bought us with his life and gave us a new name!
why is all of this possible? because Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart. it’s not something he puts on when he feels like it. it’s not something he relents to when you’re sorry enough. it’s who he is. it’s what he is made of. when we come to him, we will not be met with crossed arms and an eye roll. we’re met with a warm embrace and a sweet reunion.
believer…come to Jesus. he is not creating distance between you and himself. he is not waiting until you make up for that one sin. he is not punishing you for neglecting him. he wants you to stop striving and fly to him for rest. so come.
unbeliever…come to Jesus. he will not turn you away. no matter how dirty or broken you feel, he delights to accept you into his love. he longs for you to know him the way he already knows you. he is gentle and lowly in heart. so come.