An Invitation from Christ
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The beautiful passage of Scripture, (Matthew 11:25-30), is one of the “Holy of Holies” of the New Testament. For these are the words of Him who spake as never man spake. Only the Christ of God could have spoken such words. They reveal the profound Messianic-consciousness and the absolute claim of Him whom the Father sent into the world to be the Saviour of the world.
Jesus’ first word is one of Adoration. “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” Jesus is thanking the Father that saving knowledge of Himself is not dependent upon worldly wisdom, but upon the mercy and grace of God to humble believing sinners.
Jesus’ next word is one of Proclamation. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Only the Father fully knows and understands the Son. Only the Son fully knows and reveals the Father. No one can fully know the Father- God except as the Son wills to reveal the Father to him.
Jesus’ final word is one of Invitation. “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.” This is the most winsome, gracious, and rewarding invitation ever offered to the children of men! St.
Augustine, recognizing the profound significance and superlative worth of this invitation of Jesus, said: “I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden.’” Since this, then, is the very Word of God addressed to us, let us try to realize how important it is for us to understand and accept what is promised.
THE GRACIOUS INVITATION
Let us remember, first of all, who gives the invitation. The One who gives this gracious invitation is Jesus, the Saviour, Son of Man and Son of God, Christ of God and Lamb of God. He is the only One who could offer such an invitation, and certainly the only One who could make good on such a claim and offer.
Let us remember to whom the invitation is given, namely, “all who labor and are heavy-laden.” That includes all of us; all of the children of men. All human beings know the meaning of labor and travail, of troubles and burdens. All human beings need a Strengthener and Sustainer outside of and beyond themselves to help them to endure the trials and bear the burdens of life. So this all-wise, all-merciful invitation comes from the Compassionate Christ who is the great Sin-Bearer and Burden-Bearer of the human race.
Let us remember what we must do in order to accept this invitation. First, we must come to Him. This means we must hear His voice and respond to His call. We must heed and obey His word. We must come to Him in faith. We must believe in Him and accept Him as our Saviour and Lord. Second, we must take His yoke upon us. We must take Him as our Yoke-Fellow, our Companion, and our Friend. We must commit our way unto Him, and willingly, obediently, faithfully walk with Him and serve Him. We must share our burdens with Him and allow Him to help us pull the load. We must take Him as our Traveling-Companion, uphill and down, all along the road of life until the journey is ended. Third, we must learn of Him. We must be His disciples, His learners. We must sit at His feet, as did Mary of Bethany, and receive His words as the Teacher come from God. We must receive into honest and good hearts all the truths He has to teach us concerning the Kingdom of God. We must have Him as our Teacher and Master all of our lives; for we can never fully receive all the things He has to teach us. He has yet many things to say to His disciples, and only as we remain closely yoked with Him can we receive the “unsearchable riches” of His saving and sanctifying truth.
THE PROMISE OF REST
Finally, let us remember what is promised to those who accept His invitation. The promise is threefold. First is the promise of rest. This is twice stated: “I will give you rest,” and “you will find rest for your souls.” What is the rest that Christ gives to His own? It is more than physical rest, more than rest from the labors and trials of life, more than rest that renews our strength for further work. The rest that Christ gives is best defined as “blessed tranquility of soul.” It is the rest of forgiveness; rest from the guilt, penalty, and condemnation of sin. It is rest from the tyranny and slavery of sin. It is rest from the sinful passions that war against the soul. It is rest from the vain allurements, temptations, and deceitful desires of this passing and perishing world. It is rest for the mind, heart, and soul in the knowledge of God’s all-sheltering, all-protecting love. It is rest from the endless quest of those who seek for the meaning of life, in that Christ is known as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is rest that finds its perfect fulfillment and consummation in heaven. (Heb.4:9) “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
THE PROMISE OF COMPANIONSHIP
Second, there is the promise of companionship. “Take my yoke upon you.” We are yoked with Him in intimate companionship and comradeship. He is ever by our side as Companion, Counselor, and Friend. The yoke is made for two. We speak of a “yoke” of oxen, a team, a pair of oxen. Jesus invites us to become His yoke-fellows, to share His yoke. He is already there. He wants us to team up with Him, to let Him walk by our side, to let Him share the load. As He walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, so the risen, ever-living Lord walks with His disciples on every road of life. This is the meaning of His great promise: (Matthew 28:20)
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
THE PROMISE OF SAVING TRUTH
Third, there is the promise of saving truth. The Master says, “Learn from me.” John 13:13
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. We learn from Christ the Good News of God, the only Gospel of our salvation. Christ alone speaks the words of eternal life. In Him, His disciples learn to say: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” We learn from Him all of the blessed truths concerning the kingdom of God. We learn from Him the teachings and the attributes that make for ideal life, and we receive from Him the fullness of grace and virtue that make for the abundant life. Yes, He is the Christ who says, “Come.” “Come, for all things are now ready.” “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev. 22:17).
Prayer: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father through Him; we bless Thee for the revelation of Thy Fatherly love and saving grace, in Christ Thy Son, to all humble, penitent, believing sinners. We thank Thee for the Master’s gracious invitation to come to Him in faith, to take His yoke of comradeship upon us, and to learn of Him as His disciples. Grant us His true rest as we seek to follow and serve Him in a needy and troubled world. In our loving Saviour’s Name. Amen.