"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.”
I read these words and cannot help but believe that we make things out to be harder than they really are. We have so much stress, so many sorrows, so many worries... Where is the rest?
This world is incomplete. There will be difficulties as long as we are here, but I can't believe here that Jesus is only talking about the perfection that we will have when He returns. Otherwise, what would we be learning?
We are not called to be idle. We are all called to submit, to learn, to grow... But we are also called to be unified, peaceful, and restful... Jesus is gentle and humbled Himself. Who are we to not take that upon ourselves? Should we aim to humble ourselves less than the Son who is seated at the right hand of the Father? Should we not seek to be as gentle as possible?
He has offered us rest from the world, peace that surpasses understanding, joy in all situations... His yoke is not about walking on eggshells in order to not mess up: it is about love. We aren't called to be anything beyond what we were created to be: a life of peace and love in community with God and people.
Somehow, we have gotten the mindset that if we work hard enough, we can have rest: if we work so many hours, we can take a break; if we save enough money, we can take a vacation; if we invest properly, we can retire. None of these are permanent or what rest Jesus is talking about. We take on Jesus, He relieves us of burdens. We don't have to worry about being good enough because we can't earn it. We have died to our old selves that could not find rest. We are now raised as children of God whose future is secured in Jesus.
We can find rest while in Jesus that this world cannot offer. If we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the oppressed... Share the love that has been shown to us... Tell others what the Lord has done for us...
Our hope is secure. God knows what we need physically. God has cleansed our sins. God desires fellowship with us. What burdens do we have left to bear? The things of this world that weigh us down can be dropped so we can rest in Jesus.
Do I find it a coincidence that Matthew records this just before talking about the Sabbath to Pharisees? Of course not! Rest was built into our nature because we were created in God's image and He rested. We physically need rest, but Jesus makes a point of distinguishing the rest that involves some physical activity in order to accomplish what we need to (eat in this case, helping people in other places) compared to ways we psychologically keep ourselves from resting. Sabbathing is fantastic when you actually use it to rest from what we need rest from. Jesus provides true rest: not you, working hard enough, or even a day of the week (this is not an exhaustive list by any means). What haven't you handed over to Jesus?