Rest: Life in the Easy Yoke of Jesus (Week 7)

“Finding Rest for Your Soul!”

Matthew 11:28-30

 Are you overwhelmed? Are there more “should” and “wants” in your life than there is time in the day? Do you remain constantly connected because of the fear of missed opportunities?

 

We must replace FOMO “Fear of Missed Opportunities” with JOMO “Joy of Missing Opportunities,” but to do this we must be in a restful place—in our souls! Writing on this subject, one MD wrote, “According to a recent survey on LinkedIn, 70 percent of employees admit that when they take a vacation, they don’t disconnect from work. Our digital habits, which include constantly checking messages, emails, and social media timelines, have become so entrenched, it is nearly impossible to simply enjoy the moment, along with the people with whom we are sharing these moments.”[1] Listen to this poem about JOMO by Michael Leunig,

 

Oh the joy of missing out.

When the world begins to shout

And rush towards that shining thing;

The latest bit of mental bling–

Trying to have it, see it, do it,

You simply know you won’t go through it;

The anxious clamoring and need

This restless hungry thing to feed.

Instead, you feel the loveliness;

The pleasure of your emptiness.

You spurn the treasure on the shelf

In favor of your peaceful self;

Without regret, without a doubt.

Oh the joy of missing out[2]

 

Pastor Kevin DeYoung, wrote a book in 2013 that I needed then, but didn’t find until now. I didn’t find it because I wasn’t searching for rest. It is called, Crazy Busy: A (mercifully) Short Book about a (really) Big Problem, and it diagnoses a real FOMO for many Christians:

 

The Bible is a big book, and there’s a lot in there. So the Bible says a lot about the poor, about marriage, about prayer, about evangelism, about missions, about justice; it says a lot about a lot. Almost any Christian can make a case that their thing should be the main thing or at least one of the most important things. It’s easy for preachers and leaders, or just plain old Christian friends, to pound away at “more”—we should pray more, give more, show hospitality more, share our faith more, read our Bibles more, volunteer more. Doing something about the global AIDS crisis, tackling homelessness, getting water to an impoverished village—these overwhelm me… Along with some of the advice I’ve gotten about pastoral ministry: make sure you do a few hours of counseling a week; make sure you are working to develop leaders every week; make sure you are doing one-on-one discipleship every week; make sure you do a few hours of evangelism every week; make sure you reserve half a day for reading every week; make sure you are spending time in Greek and Hebrew every week. Who is sufficient for these things? But getting to the place where my conscience can rest has been a process. I think most Christians hear these urgent calls to do more (or feel them internally already) and learn to live with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough. We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves. That’s not how the apostle Paul lived (1 Cor. 4:4), and it’s not how God wants us to live, either (Rom. 12:1–2). Either we are guilty of sin—like greed, selfishness, idolatry—and we need to repent, be forgiven, and change. Or something else is going on. It’s taken me several years, a lot of reflection, and a bunch of unnecessary busyness to understand that when it comes to good causes and good deeds, “do more or disobey” is not the best thing we can say.[3] (my emphasis added)

 

This astute pastor was ahead of his time. Before the concept of JOMO was popular (hang on because this one is going to stick around for a while), Pastor DeYoung was diagnosing diligent Christians with a religious FOMO that was robbing us of the JOMO that can only be found by living in the easy yoke of Jesus Christ.

 

I invite you into the crossroads opportunity that this “Rest” series has been to each of us. Jesus is inviting you to make 2019 a year of experiencing JOMO—the healthy and balanced life of saying “no” to keeping up with others because you daily say yes to staying in the yoke with Jesus Christ. Or 2019 will be more of the same FOMO that fuels the daily fatigue of missing out and frustration of comparison. Who doesn’t want more from their life? I don’t know about you, but I can’t add one more item to my schedule or put another should or could in my mind or heart!

 

What is the antidote to our over-committed, over-connected, and hyper-productive lifestyles?

 

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

 

JOMO is found in the yoke of Jesus Christ! We are going to learn exactly what Jesus’ promise is and why it’s important to living the abundant life. Listen to Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”[4] (caps original to NASB, bold added for emphasis)

 

The key to this is simply found in a truth you all know: You will never find rest when you are searching for more! How do we find the promised rest for our souls?

 

First, I want to focus on the word “find” in Jesus’ promise: “and you will find…” (v. 29). In v. 28 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Jesus’ promise of “I will give you rest” is an indicative verb in the 1st person, future tense, and active voice, meaning Jesus will do this (it’s a factual reality that will happen) for those who come to Him. Jesus is our Sabbath rest.[5]

 

Jesus’ invitation of “Come to Me” is in the adverbial form meaning it modifies the promise of Jesus as applying to those who come to Him. Additionally, the original Greek word for “come” is the same word used for “follow” in Jesus’ classic invitation to discipleship. In Mark 1:17, Jesus invites, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[6] Jesus trains His first disciples by inviting them to walk with Him. As they spend time with Jesus (in His yoke, carrying their cross, abiding in the vine, walking in His footsteps, listening to His voice, drinking His blood and eating His flesh), they become like Jesus and do that which Jesus does.[7]

 

We have the same dynamic in Matthew 11:28-30. In verse 29 Jesus commands, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” The yoke is Jesus’ teachings: His commands and His actions are reinforced and solidified by us experiencing His personal example of being “gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus is not inviting us to have a fairy-tale salvation where we once-upon-a-time said a prayer and now everything is going to be happily-ever-after. Jesus never says that, hints at that, or promises that! Yes, it starts there, with a prayer of a humble heart that repents by casting down all other yokes to take on the yoke of Jesus, which is putting your personal trust in Jesus as master over and teacher of your life.[8]

 

Think about this in terms of becoming an apprentice to a master or a student to a personal tutor.[9]

 

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus’ promise is for the abundant life as promised in John 10:10.[10] It is critical that you see this connection because Matthew 11:28-30 is a call to Christian discipleship. The promise of “I will give you rest” demands a response: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden.” The “Come to Me” response is then overtly unpacked in two imperatives—taking on Jesus’ yoke and learning from Jesus, the One who submitted to His Father’s will in all things.

 

This is how you will find rest for your souls, by doing the same as Jesus! Jesus was not only completely submitted to His Father’s will, but also to His Father’s grace to accomplish His will. Jesus is not inviting you to try to do Christianity on your own power, to save yourself, but to trust Jesus at His promise by practically coming under His teaching and learning from Him. The Holy Spirit in and through you will flow out of your response to His promise in word and deed. Never the other way around.[11]

 

Which brings us back to the key: You will never find rest when you are searching for more!

 

Matthew 11:29 finishes, “and you will find rest for your souls.” The words “you will find” are the one original Greek verb εὑρίσκω (indicative verb, 2nd person, active voice, future tense) which according to BDAG means “to attain a state or condition, find (for oneself), obtain.”[12]

 

What is Jesus offering us when He uses the word “soul” in His promise? We are examining the Hebrew word נֶ֫פֶשׁ (nephesh or nepeš) because Jesus is quoting the OT passage of Jeremiah 6:16. Let’s watch this video from The Bible Project on the Hebrew word nephesh: https://thebibleproject.com/videos/nephesh-soul/.

 

Listen to how Jesus overlaps the words “find” and “soul” in two other verses in the Gospel of Matthew: Verse 10:39, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” And verse 16:25, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.[13] (emphasis added)

 

You find rest for your soul by being in the yoke of Jesus and learning from Him, by having the smartest person who ever lived right there with you through ever situation in the school of life. The Master Teacher’s learning objective for this life is your sanctification.[14] Sanctification simply stated is becoming the best version of you to the glory of God and the good of others, which Jesus taught is through His perfect example of submission to His Father.

 

The antidote to always wanting more from the world is focusing the essence of our living being on wanting to be more like Jesus Christ. When our ambition is for our holiness and not our happiness, then we will experience JOMO (the antidote to FOMO). You will never find happiness when you make happiness your ambition. You were designed to worship and you will worship. The problem is that if you worship anyone or anything other than Jesus, you will destroy both yourself and the object of your worship. That is why many are being twice-over destroyed by their lifestyles because they are worshipping their own happiness and comfort.

 

We cannot put ourselves under our own stewardship and take on the yoke of our own lordship.[15]

 

We learn to live a restful life by being with the One who teaches us how to rest in submission to another. Jesus does not remove the Law, He fulfills and becomes Lord over it—the Mediator between God and humanity. We walk in the law by walking with Jesus, not by trying to keep it by our own will power and good intentions. J. Knox Chamblin unpacks this concept for us in a helpful way, “One experiences the sabbath rest precisely by keeping the sabbath command; and it is rest not just for the ‘soul’ (so most translations of 11:29c), but for the body as well. Yet, this only happens for persons intimately related to ‘the Lord of the Sabbath’ (12:8). In Jesus’ hands, the law is an instrument of grace, a guide for loving God and neighbor. Wielded by alien powers (demonic or human), the law becomes enslaving and destructive.”[16]

 

When we are not living as Jesus’ apprentice (being in His yoke moment by moment), the “thief” (who Jesus contrasts to Himself and His abundance with in John 10:10) jumps in to “steal, kill, and destroy.” To illustrate this in an everyday reality of being a capable human being: It is a daily occurrence to think that you’ve got this (whatever the this is, you know how to do it or you’ll figure it out) and you might, but so does the devil and he just loves watching you jump all over it without yoking with Jesus first. He loves that you think you can handle this one on your own (apply a little common sense, then put a dash of human spirit into it, if that doesn’t work exert the fulness of your personality to get it done and presto: You are B.U.S.Y. “BEING UNDER SATAN’S YOKE!” Jesus never ever wants you to be in that yoke, but remember Jesus is “Gentle” and He will not force you into His yoke, but He sure does give you a lot of incentive to get it on and learn from Him! Jesus has offered you His rest under those conditions.

 

Will you accept them? If not, expect FOMO to take over or to keep feeding your current lifestyle choices.

 

The bottom line of this sermon is that Jesus is inviting us to be His apprentice, to become like Him. We will find rest when we submit to the one whom we call master, just liked Jesus submitted to His Father to the point of death, even death on a cross! JOMO feels like death to those who feel are addicted, caught up in their current lifestyle. But when you yoke with Jesus, you will have so much more time, energy, and healthy emotional bandwidth for what He would have you do with your life, your true priorities. Here are some six helpful action items[17]:

 

  1. Be intentional with your time:Schedule things that are important to you whether it is working out, meeting a friend for coffee, writing that book or completing a work project. Make your time your priority instead of wasting time worrying about what other individuals are doing or thinking.

 

  1. Give yourself permission to live in the present:If you are having a bad day, be easy on yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing evening. If you just received good news, then take a moment to embrace it and celebrate. If you feel that you are in constant competition with someone on social media, then re-assess why you are feeling this way.
  2. Embrace tech-free time:Unsubscribe from social media accounts and un-follow individuals who trigger your FOMO or cause you any type of negativity. Set daily limits to how long you can spend on social media or delete certain social media apps from your phone so you can only status scroll when you are at home on your computer.
  3. Practice saying “No”:You do not always have to go to that event or take that phone call. Sometimes saying, “no” is the best kind of self-love. Even if you want to help someone but feel it will have a negative impact on yourself, say “no,” in order to protect yourself. Self-care and self-love start by saying, “no.”
  4. Experience real life (not social media life):JOMO allows you to have more free time by eliminating wasted time spent scrolling social media feeds. Instead of spending your free moments by the drama of social media, email and text messages; what if you chose to disconnect and do the things that you enjoy such as cooking, spending time outdoors, and spending time with your family.
  5. Slow down:Take time to think before you speak, embrace the quiet, use time driving in traffic or waiting in lines to sit with your thoughts or listen to a book. Slowing down can increase our creativity, which we can harvest into other productive avenues and projects in our life.

 

The Context of Jeremiah 6:16

 

Jesus quoting Jeremiah 6:16 calls us to a true and lasting peace with God, not a white-washed tomb, like the Pharisees. Jesus promises to give us peace as His apprentices (the indicative) and as we walk with Him as His apprentices (the imperatives) we will find rest. God created us as living people who find rest in Him when we choose to walk in obedience to His ways—it’s in our design and it is how we find our freedom from slavery and fulfillment in this life![18]

 

Jesus’ yoke is His teaching. It is His lordship. It is His salvation.[19] This is Jesus inviting us into God’s covenant shalom by walking according to His way, the way of the Messiah.[20] As John testified, “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”[21] We know we are in Christ when our lives are a daily testimony of the shema of Israel: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”[22] Because then it is a comprehensive, whole-person rest that brings peace within both the person and throughout the community. We become carriers of God’s peace by having God’s rest.

 

The promises to Israel in Deuteronomy 6 are included in the promises to those who answer the invitation to take on Jesus’ yoke and learn from Him: rest for our nephesh (“soul”): “Nephesh teaches us that all of who we are matters, that both our bodies and souls matter in the great story of the Bible. Our bodies and souls matter at the Creation, in the Fall, and in Redemption.”[23] This is why Jesus invites you to choose life and not death, blessings and not curses, just like the prophets called Israel over and over again throughout the OT, crying out “return to Me!”[24] Jesus is intentionally quoting Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.”[25] Jesus is fulfilling the promise![26]

 

Jesus doesn’t pull a verse out of context, Jesus pulls the whole context into His invitation. Jesus is calling the people of Israel back to the way of healthy community as God’s chosen people, which is the way of rest in His easy yoke, the way of a sincere relationship with God.[27] Listen to the three verses before Jeremiah 6:16 to help you really understand the context:

 

For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the Lord.[28]

 

This is serious! God’s people are in grave danger at this time in history (6th Century BC) because they are not trusting in God or walking in the ways of God taught to them through God’s Law given through Moses. So God sent prophet after prophet to them to remind them, but they still won’t listen![29] So God sent His Son to make the final invitation to God’s people.

 

Jesus is intentionally creating a clear connection between not only the Old Covenant prophet Jeremiah and His promise of rest, but also the state of apostasy God’s people are in when God sends them a messenger of grace to respond to His invitation to find rest. In Deuteronomy 28:65, God proclaims the danger of not choosing His ancient paths, “Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.”[30] Jesus is saying all that He says in Matthew 11:28-30 directly after He denounces cities for their apostasy in Matthew 11:20-27. As J. Knox Chamblin very succinctly declares, “Jesus’ overture of grace (Matt. 11:28–30) is sounded in the presence of persons already threatened with condemnation (cf. 11:6, 16–24). If they refuse this invitation, what hope can remain for them?”[31] (emphasis original)

 

Jesus is crying out compassionately to God’s chosen people to no longer follow the ways of the hypocritical religious leaders who put burdens of the Law on people but aren’t even willing to lift a finger. Rest is the gift to the one who trusts in the Promise Giver enough to put their life in the yoke! This is the new way of living, the life of the Spirit. As Paul defined, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”[32]

 

The invitation to find rest has gone out![33] The Hebrew phrase, “and you will find rest for your souls” is God’s gracious invitation to experience Gods’ shalom to the comprehensive essence of the whole human life, your “totality.”[34] Remember, nephesh, by an Old Testament understanding, cannot and should not be separated from the life of the whole person—body and spirit. The soul, according to the Bible, is not part of a person, it is the person created by and responsive to God.[35] That is why it is important to see Jeremiah’s invitation in Jeremiah 6:16 in its proper light and why Jesus quotes it: “The prophet calls the community to a wholesome life in which the needs and rights of all under God are recognized and met.”[36]

 

 

Israel’s Decision is our Invitation to Respond

 

Israel’s decision to God’s crossroads invitation is so painful to hear when you know what is going to happen if they reject God’s gracious invitation to find rest for their souls. When Jeremiah first made this appeal to God’s people, it was with Babylon threating to take them out of the Promised Land—the “land of rest.”[37] It pains me to read this last line of Jeremiah 6:16 after such a gracious invitation, “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.[38] God hands them over to their choice: Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed by the Babylonian army in 586 BC and God’s chosen people are exiled for 70 years in Babylon. Yahweh had put before Israel the choice of following His “ancient paths” or worshipping pagan gods. They chose the latter to their own destruction, what will you choose?

 

What will be our response to Jesus’ invitation to find rest for our souls? Our response to this invitation will directly impact every aspect of not only our personal lives, but our church’s health and our communities’ well-being as well. Jesus is giving us the key to fulfill His mandates in the world as His disciples. We are to work from a place of soul-rest![39]

 

Jesus is inviting us to know the rest of God through a growing daily relationship of how we live our lives. Jesus’ rest is for Heaven one day, but it is also for His presence in your life today, the here and now! Are you resting in the easy yoke of Jesus Christ? If you are, then you will know it because you will experience the rest of your whole living being.[40] You will live in JOMO!

 

If you are not, then you will know it because God loves you enough to allow you to experience what it feels like to live outside of His Promised Land—in FOMO!

 

We only are willing to take on the easy yoke of Jesus when we realize the crushing weight of all other yokes![41]

 

Are you experiencing rest for your soul? Are you experiencing JOMO?

 

You will never find rest when you are searching for more!

 

The rest Jesus offers you is for your whole being—all of you, every day, in every season of life, in any job you are or are not doing, and in your current relational status you are experiencing.

 

Rest is for you right now, embrace Jesus…
 
Listen to it here.
 
 

For more information:

 
Click HERE for a link to an unpublished paper by Jerry concerning the meaning of the soul entitled, An Old Testament Understanding of the Human Soul.”
 
 
 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Kristen Fuller, MD. “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out” (Psychology Today, July 26, 2018). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201807/jomo-the-joy-missing-out [last accessed February 15, 2019]. Click on this article for some very sensible and culturally savvy application to this sermon. I integrate ideas into my applications. This article represents something very exciting to me: science is catching up to what Jesus taught humanity thousands of years ago. Jesus is truly the smartest person who ever lived.

 

[2] Quoted by Kristen Fuller, MD. “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out” (Psychology Today, July 26, 2018). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201807/jomo-the-joy-missing-out [last accessed February 15, 2019].

[3] Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy: A (mercifully) Short Book about a (really) Big Problem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).

 

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 11:28–30.

            [5] Hebrews 4:1-11 is a succinct teaching on the rest of God in the NT. Gerhard Hasel makes the connection between the Old Covenant teaching of Sabbath and the New Covenant teaching of Jesus: “Hebrews 4:9 states, ‘There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.’ The words ‘sabbath rest’ translate the Gk noun sabbatismos, a unique word in the NT. This term appears also in Plutarch (Superst. 3 [Moralia 166a]) for sabbath observance, and in four post-canonical Christian writings which are not dependent on Heb 4:9 (Justin Dial. 23:3; Epiph. Panar. haer. 30, 2.2; Martyrdom of Peter and Paul, chap. 1; Const. Apost. 2.36.2) for seventh-day ‘sabbath celebration’ (Hofius 1970:103–5). The author of Hebrews affirms in Heb 4:3–11, through the joining of quotations from Gen 2:2 and Ps 95:7, that the promised “sabbath rest” still anticipates a complete realization ‘for the people of God’ in the eschatological end-time which had been inaugurated with the appearance of Jesus (1:1–3). ‘Sabbath rest’ within this context is not equated with a future, post-eschaton sabbath celebration in the heavenly sanctuary; it is likewise not experienced in the rest that comes in death. The experience of ‘sabbath rest’ points to a present ‘rest’ (katapausis) reality in which those ‘who have believed are entering’ (4:3) and it points to a future ‘rest’ reality (4:11). Physical sabbath-keeping on the part of the new covenant believer as affirmed by ‘sabbath rest’ epitomizes cessation from ‘works’ (4:10) in commemoration of God’s rest at creation (4:4 = Gen 2:2) and manifests faith in the salvation provided by Christ. Heb 4:3–11 affirms that physical ‘sabbath rest’ (sabbatismos) is the weekly outward manifestation of the inner experience of spiritual rest (katapausis) in which the final eschatological rest is proleptically experienced already ‘today’ (4:7). Thus ‘sabbath rest’ combines in itself creation-commemoration, salvation-experience, and eschaton-anticipation as the community of faith moves toward the final consummation of total restoration and rest” (Gerhard F. Hasel, “Sabbath,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary [New York: Doubleday, 1992], 855–856).

 

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mk 1:17. Jesus is promising the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of those who follow Him. I will make you into the best version of you to do the Father’s will through your life. The Holy Spirit will work in and through you to fulfill the Father’s will through the Father’s grace. Follow Me!

 

[7] In this sentence I allude to some of the declarative statements of Jesus that clearly teach that we have no life and can do nothing of God apart from Him. Here are just a few: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Mt 10:38–39). “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” (Jn 6:53). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus unapologetically establishes Himself as our fulfillment.

[8] C.H. Spurgeon preached about Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28, “Here is the gracious invitation of the gospel in which the Savior’s tears and smiles were blended, as in a covenant rainbow of promise. ‘Come.’ He drives none away. He calls them to himself. His favorite word is ‘come.’ Not ‘go’ to Moses but, ‘Come to me.’ To Jesus we must come by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, or ministry are we first to come but to the personal Savior. All laboring and weary ones may come. He does not limit the call to the spiritually laboring, but every working and wearied one is called. Jesus calls me. Jesus promises ‘rest’ as his gift. His immediate, personal, effectual rest he freely gives to all who come to him by faith. To come to him is the first step, and he invites us to take it. In himself, as the great sacrifice for sin, the conscience, the heart, the understanding obtain complete rest. When we have obtained the rest he gives, we will be ready to hear of a further rest that we find” (Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes [Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017], 1298). (emphasis original)

[9] “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master” (Mt 10:24-25).

[10] In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Now contrast this with Mt 11:28-30: In Jn 10:10, Jesus contrasts the life with Him (“have [life] abundantly”) versus the life with Satan (“the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy”), whereas in Mt 11:28-30, Jesus, by quoting Je 6:16 is contrasting the life in the yoke of God (“rest”) with the life yoked to anything but God (“weary and heavy-laden”). Life in the easy yoke of Jesus is the abundant life! In any other yoke, you are giving yourself over to the thief, rather than the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18).

 

[11] Imperatives always follow Indicatives! Just like in Romans, all the imperatives of the Christian life (Rom 12—16) flow out of the teaching of the gospel (Romans 1—11). If you look for what “to do” before you see what “Jesus has already done” then you will end up “weary and heavy-laden.” The Christian life is always one of personal response in Jesus’ Name, never one of personal initiative for Jesus’ Name! What damage has been done in the name of Jesus because someone wanted to christen their ambition. Cf. Phil 2:5-11. Remember, good fruit points to a good root and vice versa, when we see bad fruit in our lives go back to the root.

 

[12] The entire entry from BDAG states, “to attain a state or condition, find (for oneself), obtain. The mid. is used in this sense in Attic wr. (B-D-F §310, 1; Rob. 814; Phryn. p. 140 Lob.); in our lit. it occurs in this sense only Hb 9:12. As a rule our lit. uses the act. in such cases (poets; Lucian, Lexiph. 18; LXX; Jos., Ant. 5, 41) τὴν ψυχήν Mt 10:39; 16:25. ἀνάπαυσιν (Sir 11:19; 22:13; 28:16; 33:26; ἄνεσιν ApcEsdr 5:10) ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν rest for your souls 11:29. μετανοίας τόπον have an opportunity to repent or for changing the (father’s) mind Hb 12:17. σκήνωμα τῷ θεῷ Ἰακώβ maintain a dwelling for the God of Jacob Ac 7:46b (Ps 131:5). χάριν obtain grace (SSol 8:10 v.l.) Hb 4:16. χάριν παρὰ τῷ θεῷ obtain favor with God Lk 1:30; also ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ Ac 7:46a; GJs 11:2 (LXX as a rule ἐναντίον w. gen.; JosAs 15:14 ἐνώπιόν σου). ἔλεος παρὰ κυρίου obtain mercy from the Lord 2 Ti 1:18 (cp. Gen 19:19; Da 3:38).—The restoration [πίστιν εὑρ]ίσκομεν Ox 1081, 26 is not valid; on basis of the Coptic SJCh 90, 2 read w. Till p. 220 app.: [ταῦτα γιγν]ῴσκομεν.—B. 765; RAC VI, 985–1052. DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW” (William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 412). (emphasis original)

 

[13] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 10:39; 16:25. In v. 16:25 notice the linear connection between finding one’s self and being saved (σῴζω).

 

[14] The Apostle Paul captures this concept in Ro 6:12-23; 12:1-2; and 1 Thess 4:1-8.

 

[15] C.H. Spurgeon preached, “Oh be not rashly self-confident, Christian man. Be as confident as you can in your God, but be distrustful of yourself. Ye may yet become all that is vile and vicious, unless sovereign grace prevent and keep you to the end. But remember if you have been preserved, the crown of your keeping belongs to the Shepherd of Israel, and ye know who that is. For he hath said ‘I the Lord do keep it. I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.’ ‘Ye know who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before his presence with exceeding great joy.’ Then give all glory to the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God your Saviour, who has kept you thus” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Distinguishing Grace,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 5 [London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1859], 302). Cf. 1 Cor 10:12-13; Ecc 4:10.

 

[16] J. Knox Chamblin, Matthew: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2010), 637.

 

[17] All six action items are quoted directly from Kristen Fuller, MD. “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out” (Psychology Today, July 26, 2018). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201807/jomo-the-joy-missing-out [last accessed February 15, 2019]. (Emphasis added)

[18] Lawrence Richards comments on the crossroads of Jeremiah 6:16: “Each day brings us to new crossroads. Each day we must choose the good way, and walk in it. There is no peace like the inner peace that comes from knowing we have done what is right” (Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. [Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991], 452).

 

[19] And rightly so because Jesus is the Messiah of Israel: “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6). Vanlaningham further explains, “The promise of rest was tied especially to the promises about the Son of David, the Messiah, providing security for the house of Israel (see Jr 23:5; 33:15–16; Ezk 34:15, 23–25; Am 9:11–15). That rest is found only in Jesus, and has eternal implications (Heb 4:1–11)” (Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Matthew,” in The Moody Bible Commentary [Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014], 1472). (emphasis original)

 

[20] John Mackay explains this in connection to our nephesh, “The reflection of this phrase in Matt. 11:29 is therefore not an improper application of what is in mind here, that true šālôm is found by following the path that leads to harmony with God. The focus is not primarily on some inner spiritual repose. Having ceased to trust in their own wisdom and having committed themselves to the path of trust in God, they would enjoy all the blessings that flow from covenant obedience. Their desires would be met and in the totality of their beings they would be vulnerable no more” (John L. Mackay, Jeremiah: An Introduction and Commentary: Chapters 1–20, vol. 1, Mentor Commentaries [Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2004], 280).

[21] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update,1 Jn 2:5–6. The context makes it clear that this is not a new concept. John MacKay explains, “But it is not enough merely to know which way leads to the correct destination. They must also walk in it. Having examined the options and ascertained which path they ought to take, they must then actually move along it. The lip-service of the Temple with all its acclamation of the Lord and the deeds of wonder he had done had to be accompanied by lives reoriented in word and act to his revelation of himself. In that way you will find rest for your souls. ‘Will find rest’ renders an imperative which may be used after the preceding imperatives to express a consequence intended or desired by the speaker (GKC §110f; Joüon §116f). ‘Rest’ (margôaʿ <√rāgaʿ II hiphil ‘to cease activity, be at rest’) occurs only here but margêaʿ is found in Isa. 28:12 describing the promised land as the resting place the Lord gave his people. The reflection of this phrase in Matt. 11:29 is therefore not an improper application of what is in mind here, that true šālôm is found by following the path that leads to harmony with God. It is, however, doubtful if the New Testament application warrants the translation here of lenapšəkem as ‘for your souls’ (so also NKJV and NRSV; for nepeš see on 2:34) rather than ‘for yourselves’ (REB). The focus is not primarily on some inner spiritual repose. Having ceased to trust in their own wisdom and having committed themselves to the path of trust in God, they would enjoy all the blessings that flow from covenant obedience. Their desires would be met and in the totality of their beings they would be vulnerable no more” (John L. Mackay, Jeremiah: An Introduction and Commentary: Chapters 1–20, vol. 1, Mentor Commentaries [Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2004], 279–280).

 

[22] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Dt 6:4–5. I invite you to read all of Dt 6 and see how deeply embedded in the Shema is the promise of rest for the people of God.

 

[23] Jerry D. Ingalls “An Old Testament Understanding of the Soul” (unpublished paper, 2018). If you would like a copy of this paper, please contact me or the FBC office.

 

[24] Read Dt 30:1-20; Neh 1:9; Isa 44:22; Jer 24:7; Joel 2:12; Amos 4:6-11; Zech 1:3; and Mal 3:7.

[25] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Je 6:16.

 

[26] Jesus is declaring that the New Covenant is found in Him and the rest of God (eschatological and temporal) is His to give to those who enter the New Covenant through a relationship with Him. The New Covenant was not new to Israel, but was promised by the ancient prophets to Israel: Is 42:6; 49:8; 54:10; 55:1-5; 59:21; 61:1-9; Jer 31:31-34; Ez 11:19; 36:26. Rest is not in our own efforts to fulfill the Law for that has proven impossible by the most diligent seekers (i.e. Jesus’ strong words against the Pharisees). Listen to Keith Mathison, “One of the most fundamental teachings found within the pre-exilic prophets is that Israel has failed to keep God’s covenant and that due to this failure to obey, judgment is coming. The history of Israel from the time of Moses onward is a history of almost continual disobedience and apostasy. Both Moses and Joshua had indicated that Israel was incapable of obeying God’s law, and Israel had proven them correct (cf. Deut. 31:16–18, 20–21; Josh. 24:19). Now exile is imminent, but God is promising restoration” (Keith Mathison, “The New Covenant – The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology” (Ligonier Ministries, April 9, 2012, https://www.ligonier.org/blog/new-covenant-unfolding-biblical-eschatology/  [last accessed February 15, 2019]).

 

[27] William Holladay explains, “What are the “paths of old” (נְתִבוֹת עוֹלָם)? J. Philip Hyatt suggests they are the ways of Moses. If the chronology of the present study is valid, they could well be the ways of Moses made known through the Deuteronomic law. The phrase דֶּרֶךְ הַטּוֹב does not mean ‘the good way’ (RSV, JB, which would require either two articles or no article), but rather ‘the way to good’ (so, with variations in phrasing, NEB, NAB, NJV). Yahweh begs the people to find the road back to healthy community: if the people walk on that road, they will find ‘repose’ (מַרְגּוֹעַ). This word is a hapax legomenon in the OT, but the related מַרְגֵּעַ in Isa 28:12 carries the same meaning: these nouns and the related verb רגע refer to surcease from international pressure; it is close to the current phrase ‘national security,’ the ability to live without constant tension and uneasiness before the threat of disaster from abroad. (The reflection of this phrase in Matt 11:29 has moved the center of meaning beyond purely national security!) The people refuse, however” (William Lee Holladay, Jeremiah 1: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 1–25, ed. Paul D. Hanson, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 221).

 

[28] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Je 6:13–15.

 

[29] “Judah had strayed from the ancient paths of God’s righteousness (cf. 31:21; Is 30:18–21). The Lord urged her to follow the good way and walk in it (Jr 7:23) to find rest for their souls. This important idea is by quoted by Jesus in Mt 11:29 (see comments there)” (Charles H. Dyer and Eva Rydelnik, “Jeremiah,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1120). (emphasis original)

[30] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Dt 28:65. As I have written previously, “Just as all of humanity has its origin in God alone, so will we only find wholeness and peace (shalom) when we experience the essence of our being in response to God’s covenant faithfulness (hesed) extended to us. God’s graceful initiation of covenant to which we are invited to respond is evidenced in every covenant God has established between Himself and humanity. For example, God’s initiation is witnessed to in the Mosaic Covenant (e.g. Ex 20:1-3) and in the New Covenant (e.g. 1 John 4:19). The choice is before each of us, but let us never forget that we are recipients of rest through acceptance of the terms of God’s graceful invitation.”

 

[31] (J. Knox Chamblin, Matthew: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries [Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2010], 638).

 

[32] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Ro 7:6. This teaching will be unpacked in Sermon #8. This “new way” is thoroughly unpacked by Dr. Larry Crabb’s The Pressure’s Off (WaterBrook, 2012).

 

[33] “What Yahweh promised in the Jeremiah passage, Jesus now promises to those who come to him and follow him in discipleship: he will give them rest for their souls, i.e., a realization of a deep existential peace, a shalom, or sense of ultimate well-being with regard to one’s relationship to God and his commandments (cf. the “rest,” κατάπαυσις, of Heb 4:3–10). In light of the rejection of Jesus, it is worth noting that following the invitation in Jeremiah are the words: “But they said: ‘We will not walk in it.’ ” This promise of rest relates directly to what is elsewhere in the NT called ‘salvation.’ As Betz puts it, ‘the logion of 11:28–30 is therefore theologically identical with the macarisms of the Sermon on the Mount’ (24)” (Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1–13, vol. 33A, Word Biblical Commentary [Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998], 324). (emphasis original)

 

[34] “Only one passage in the New Testament suggests a differentiation between body, soul, and spirit: 1 Thess 5:23. Since the Old Testament clearly sees two parts to humans (body and soul/spirit; material and immaterial), it is best to interpret this single verse the same way for theological consistency. Many scholars do not consider soul and spirit in this verse as discrete, separate items. This verse is similar to the shema (Deut 6:4; cf. Matt 22:37; Mark 12:29–30), which tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. The point is totality, not that heart, soul, might (and mind in the gospel references) are separable. The Old Testament uses both nephesh and ruach to describe the source of these inner parts. Totality is also the point of Heb 4:12 (which actually uses four items, not three)” (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First Edition. [Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015], 41).

 

[35] “ נֶפֶשׁ does not mean the soul as one part of man but the whole man living his life in responsibility” (Eduard Schweizer, Georg Bertram, Albert Dihle, et al., “Ψυχή, Ψυχικός, Ἀνάψυξις, Ἀναψύχω, Δίψυχος, Ὀλιγόψυχος,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–], 636).

 

[36] J. R. Soza, “Jeremiah,” ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 226.

 

[37] John Barry comments from Hb 4:1, “‘Rest’ for the wilderness generation referred to the promised land, Canaan. In Canaan, the Israelites would be secure from enemies (Deut 12:9–10) and would no longer have to wander. In Gen 12:1–3, God promises Abraham land, a nation, and a great name. He also promises that Abraham will be a blessing to others. Abraham obtains these promises by persevering (Heb 6:15) and offering up his son, Isaac (11:17). Likewise, his wife, Sarah, conceived because she trusted in God (11:11). In contrast, the wilderness generation did not receive the promise of inheriting the land because they did not act faithfully and trust God. As the author of Hebrews reflects on his own generation, he urges them to strive toward the inheritance of the new covenant—God’s “rest”—enacted by trusting Him with their very lives (chs. 8–9)” (John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible [Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016], Heb 4:1).[37]

 

[38] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Je 6:16. The Greek word used for “walk” is translated from the Hebrew word הלך (hālakh) which has profound implications on this entire study. It is a rich OT word. It also directly informs Jesus’ phrase “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” and why Jesus used the “yoke” imagery with all of the layered meanings behind it for His Jewish audience. This study is just an introduction to our understanding of how to find rest for our souls because you can’t learn how to find rest by talking about it, you have to get in the yoke of Jesus and learn from Him! You can have a doctorate-level mastery of Mt 11:28-30 and still not be experiencing rest for your soul because the rest Jesus offers can only be learned if you “walk” in it.

 

                [39] From the conclusion of my previously referenced unpublished paper on the nephesh, “The church should never again say that it is focused on ‘saving souls’ if it is not also equally committed to ‘making disciples.’ In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus did not just invite part of a person to find rest in Him, but Jesus invited the whole person to walk in discipleship with Him. Christian discipleship is a lifestyle defined and determined by a response to an invitation. Just as the nephesh was spoken into existence by God, so the nephesh will find rest according to how it responds to the invitation of God. In Mark 1:17 Jesus’ invitation comes with a promise, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ Just as we must communicate to people about God’s invitation for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for their eternal destiny, so we must encourage them to go deeper into their relationship with Jesus to find fulfillment and abundance in the Christian life. The local church must care about not only people’s eternal destinies, but about their physical, emotional, relational, economic, and environmental well-being. Just as the nephesh (‘soul’) points to the whole life of a person, so the local church must care about and minister to a person’s whole life.”

 

[40] As the Apostle Paul taught over and over again with such statements as this, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Ro 6:11). Cf. Ro 6:2, 13; 7:4, 6; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Gal 2:19; Eph 2:1-6; Col 3:3; 1 Pet 2:24.

 

                [41] This is the yoke you are being invited to put on and this is the cross you are being invited to carry. Both seem heavy and burdensome when misunderstood. Neither of these images produces thoughts of rest, but both the yoke and the cross are Jesus the Master Teacher’s concrete analogies or conceptual metaphors to understand where true rest is found. It is found in Him and His teachings. To take Him on and learn from Him or to deny Him and do it your own way, is to choose the path you are going to take in the crossroad that we each find ourselves when confronted with Jesus Christ and His gospel. Taking the yoke of Jesus Christ is to take for yourself the ancient paths of following God (Je 6:16), which are fully revealed to you in Jesus the Christ and His teachings. Chamblin helpful unpacks this seeming paradox, “Once you obey those commands—‘take’ (arate) and ‘learn’ (mathete)—‘you will find rest for yourselves [tais psychais hymōn]’ (11:29c). Disciples find rest (the noun anapausis) because Jesus gives rest (the verb anapauō; 11:28); and paradoxically, they find rest by ‘taking up Jesus’ yoke’—by obeying his commands” (J. Knox Chamblin, Matthew: A Mentor Commentary, Mentor Commentaries (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2010), 637).

 


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