Rest: Living in the Easy Yoke of Jesus!

Rest: Life in the Easy Yoke of Jesus!

Part 1 of an 8-part Teaching on Matthew 11:28-30

Message #1: “You are invited!”

 

You are invited! You ask, invited to do what? You are invited to make 2019 a great year! One year from now, as you are looking back on 2019, here is the most important question we can ask ourselves: Am I growing closer to Jesus Christ today more than I was a year ago? And as a church: Are we loving one another more like Jesus’ family today than we were a year ago?

 

But you must know who is inviting you. It is not me or the church who is inviting you to grow closer in your relationship with Jesus. This is not a program you can opt in or out of; this is a crossroads moment! How you respond to any invitation is dependent on who is inviting you!

 

From the New American Standard Bible, listen to Jesus’ invitation in 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.”[1]

 

This will be our scripture focus for the months of January and February. It is the goal of this series that we each will go on a journey of learning how to live our day-to-day lives in such a way as to grow closer to Jesus and to one another. By doing so, we’ll experience rest.

 

Today, we start this series with the first three words: Come to Me… In the NASB translation, the phrase “come to me” is found 50 times and of those 50 usages (30 in OT/20 in NT), 19 (5 in OT/14 in NT) of them has God as the object of the phrase (the “Me”).[2]

 

Where else did Jesus use this invitation of come to Me? In all the verses below, I add the emphasis of bold and underline to highlight these specific words in their context.

 

Jesus says “come to Me” in Mark 10:14-15 (cf. the parallel passages in Matthew 19:14 & Luke 18:16), “But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”[3]

 

From Luke 6:46-48, Jesus admonishes, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”[4]

In Jesus’ command for us to carry our own cross in Luke 14:26-27, Jesus opens the invitation, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”[5]

 

We’ve now seen these specific words used in all three of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. What about the fourth gospel, John?

 

In John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”[6]

 

Jesus uses this phrase six unique times in John 6. In verse 35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’”[7] Twice in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”[8] Twice in John 6:44-45, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”[9] And again in John 6:65, “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”[10]

 

The final time “come to Me” is used by Jesus is John 7:37-38, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ’ ”[11] Please notice the parallelism in this passage and also in John 6:35 between “come to Me” and “believes in Me.” This grammatical construct is like a neon sign of Jesus’ intent on what it means to truly come to Him. It is a life of faith in Jesus that leads to rest.

 

Quickly, allow me to go one layer deeper with you so you can see something that is not apparent in our English translations. The original Greek word translated “come” in Matthew 11:28 is δεῦτε. This word is not only translated “come”, but also “follow” as in Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17. In other words, Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28 has a semantic connection to His call to the life of Christian discipleship.

The rest for your life that you are looking for is not found in seeking after rest in and of itself. We will build upon this overarching point significantly over these next two months, but please know up front that rest for your soul will never be found in retirement or recreation, but in living the deeper life of imitating Jesus Christ who restores us to our divine work (our form and function) as the Imagers of God.[12]

 

Rest is found in not only putting your faith in Jesus, but then living the life of Christian discipleship. Rest is found in the midst of our work when we return our work to its original God-given purpose (Genesis 1:26-31). That great news is that God promises to reward us for our work (Matthew 25:21-46). Jesus describes the reward for those who live according to God’s way as an invitation in Matthew 25:34, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”[13]

 

The One who created you has redeemed you to find rest in the work He formed you to do in your life. As the Apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”[14]

 

For this is the yoke you are being invited to put on and this is the cross you are being invited to carry. It is counter-intuitive because neither of these images produces thoughts of rest, but both the yoke and the cross are “conceptual metaphors” of taking on yourself the teachings and ways of Jesus Christ.[15] To do so is to choose the path you are going to take in the crossroad that you (and we as a church) find ourselves. Taking the yoke of Jesus Christ is to take for yourself the ancient paths of following God,[16] who is fully revealed to you in Jesus the Christ. Will you follow Jesus and find rest for your soul, for this life and for the life to come?
 
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FOOTNOTES
 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 11:28–30. All caps in this reference is part of NASB formatting to indicate that Jesus is quoting the Old Testament.

 

[2] All word studies were done utilizing the Logos 8 Bible software.

 

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mk 10:14–15.

 

[4] Ibid., Lk 6:46–48.

[5] Ibid., Lk 14:26–27.

 

[6] Ibid., Jn 5:39–40.

 

[7] Ibid., Jn 6:35.

 

[8] Ibid., Jn 6:37.

 

[9] Ibid., Jn 6:44–45. This scripture, in addition to verses 37 and 65, establishes the sovereignty of God as a determinant for who will come to Jesus. I will develop in a future study how this is also seen in Matthew 11:25-27 as the context for Jesus’ invitation “Come to Me…”. While we view this as an open invitation, these scriptures overwhelmingly indicate that for a person to respond to this invitation s/he must be given the effective means to do so by God. This should lead to an even greater humility in any person who has come to Jesus.

 

[10] Ibid., Jn 6:65.

 

[11] Ibid., Jn 7:37–38.

[12] I will develop this line of thought in a future teaching when we address what Jesus calls the “soul”. Jesus is actually quoting Jeremiah 6:16 when He uses this word, so we will examine the Hebrew word nephesh.

 

[13] Ibid., Mt 25:34.

 

[14] Ibid., Eph 2:10.

[15] “Conceptual metaphor refers to the way we use a concrete term or idea to communicate abstract ideas. If we marry ourselves to the concrete (“literal”) meaning of words, we’re going to miss the point the writer was angling for in many cases. If I use the word “Vegas” and all you think of is latitude and longitude, you’re not following my meaning. Biblical words can carry a lot of freight that transcends their concrete sense. Inspiration didn’t immunize language from doing what it does” (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First Edition. [Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015], 387). More on this in a future sermon when we develop the yoke imagery, but for now it is enough to know that a communication/teaching device is being used by Jesus in His invitation to Christian discipleship.

 

[16] Jesus references Jeremiah 6:16 in His invitation of Matthew 11:28-30. While we will deal with the implications of this OT quotation in a later teaching, for now it is important to realize that the context of Jeremiah 6:16 is Yahweh putting before Israel the choice of following His “ancient paths” or worshipping pagan gods. They choose the later, to their own destruction. What will we choose as Jesus invites us to follow Him?


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