The Lord Jesus Christ promised that, no matter the stormy circumstance of life, we can enter into a safe and protected haven with him. Living in an age that has Satan as its god plus the constant struggle with our own sin nature and our concern for loved ones and other matters sometimes invokes weariness and oppressive burdens. The placebo escapes available from these feelings seem endless such as TV, video games, surfing the web, shopping, eating, sex, alcohol, drugs…. These distractions at best provide temporary relief and at its worst destructive addictions that exasperate our problems.
A review of Jesus’ promise about release from weariness and burdens is the focus of this article.
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 [quoted from Jeremiah 6:16]. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
When we look at the context of these verses, the truth pops out. Chapter 11 begins with John questioning Jesus’ authenticity as the Messiah. John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus (Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 11:14) and the one who baptized Jesus was in jail. He sent some of his own disciples to ask Jesus if he was really the Messiah or should they look for another. His doubt is surprising, especially when we consider he saw and heard what is recorded in Matthew 3:16-17, “the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him [Jesus], and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” This episode according John 1:29-34, was for John’s benefit.
However, time passed; he was jailed; and things were not happening the way he thought they would. John, like other disciples, was expecting Jesus as the Messiah to immediately sit on the throne of David and liberate Israel from the oppressive, totalitarian rule of the Romans. John’s questioning must have been bothersome and disappointing to Jesus. This encounter happens shortly before Jesus’ invitation to come unto him.
After John’s disciple left, Jesus spoke very favorably of John, but not so favorably of the generation.
Matthew 11:16-19 but to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!'
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
The example was the music promoting dancing had no appropriate response and the music that was to inspire mourning also had a lack of response. In other words, they did not respond rightly to John or Jesus. This hardness of heart and lack of acceptance were also troubling to Jesus. After this, he condemned the cities he had spent so much time in for their lack of repentance. Even the town he lived in, Capernaum, did not accept him and the gospel. He said Sodom would have responded better than they did. Again, all of this unbelief must have weighed very heavily upon our Lord. So, what did he do? As one who was weary and heavy-laden, he turned his mind and heart to God.
Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
Jesus prayed and changed his focus from all the negative responses to praise God for those who did respond, his disciples. He also gloried in the wonderful relationship he had with the Father. No matter what humanity did or did not do, his relationship with God was fully intact and most important to him. Therein he found his refuge. O taste and see that Yahweh is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8 Right before encouraging his disciples to find refuge in him, he found refuge in his Father. He provided the example of how to find release from weariness and burdens.
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 [quoted from Jeremiah 6:16]. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
The important question is how do we come unto him, and the answer is the very same way he did with the Father. He prayed, was thankful for the goodness of God, and focused on the all-important relationship He had with God. Think of two animals yoked together, one immature and the other a seasoned worker. The younger learns from the older who knows. He is our example, and when we follow his lead, we enjoy the same results. Jesus demonstrated his gentleness and humility moments before he told us to learn from him. The word “gentleness” is translated in other versions “meekness”. Jesus was always meek to the Father accepting God’s will above his own. Humility is accepting the need for God’s help and receiving it into manifestation. He went to God with his struggles, and so should we.
Another important piece to the context of this record is found in Luke. Chapter seven reveals the exact same time frame. Although the specific order of the events is not clear, that they occurred in close proximity is certainly clear.
Luke 7:36-38 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Apparently, she was very heavy-laden since she wept so much that the tears were enough to wash Jesus’ feet. Her burden was sin and she deliberately determined to come to Jesus for relief. The love, meekness and humility that she evidenced with her actions was historic. To the chagrin of the judgmental Pharisee, Jesus forgave her, thereby eliminating her weariness and burden.
Luke 7:48-50 Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven."
Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Until Jesus returns, weariness and oppressive burdens will exist, but we have a place of rest and relief in Jesus. Considering the closing comment of Jesus’ prayer is a good way to end this article. ...Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Our responding to Jesus’ instruction to come unto him will open the door for him to reveal the Father to us.