The Gracious Invitation of Jesus
Text: Matthew 11 : 20 - 30
Was it that difficult to understand Jesus? Not really! Not when we have such texts to encourage our hearts.
“Come to Me, all you who labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
How much simpler could Jesus have made His gospel sound? What was so difficult to understand about this word inviting people to find rest for their souls?
“Come to Me…”
The problem for some lay in these words. The words are clear and simple enough to understand. It was the Person of Jesus that some rejected! The scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians and others would have to set aside all their wrong beliefs and practices and come to Jesus confessing their lack and their sins. To them this was just unthinkable and unacceptable!
“All you who labour and are heavy laden…”
Nevertheless this word of invitation had to be issued forth. There must be some in the multitude who must feel that their burdens were wearisome. Surely there must be some who must be so heavy laden they would do anything to find relief and rest from the cares of this life!
“And I will give you rest…”
To all who would come to Jesus on His terms, He promised rest! What were these terms?
1. They would have to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah – the Son of God.
2. They would have to repent from their sinful ways.
3. They would have to own Jesus as Lord and follow His teachings.
Were these terms so difficult to fulfil? Not for those who had become His disciples. They found new life. They found new meaning and purpose in life. They would never return to their old lives! They would follow Jesus to the end of time!
WHAT IT MEANS TO TRULY BELIEVE IN JESUS
Lest there be any misunderstanding as to what it meant to believe in Him, Jesus added these words for good measure.
“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
is easy and My burden is light.”
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me…”
This phrase may be understood as an idiomatic way of speaking. The word “yoke” was used purposely.
a) The word “rest” must not be misunderstood as “doing nothing”
Those who had heard Jesus promising “rest” must think carefully over what Jesus actually meant. If they thought that after believing in Jesus, they can spend the rest of their lives idling away, then they are very much mistaken.
b) The yoke represents service
Those who come to Jesus will indeed find rest for their souls. However, those who truly know Him would never want to be idle in His Presence. They would want to learn as much as possible so that one day they too could be sent out as His disciples.
“I am gentle and lowly in heart…”
Did any think that Jesus was a fierce taskmaster? Then they are much mistaken. Those who truly know Him would be amazed by His gentleness and humility.
a) All the disciples of Jesus bear testimony of this truth
What kind of background did Matthew have, for instance? He was a tax collector shunned by many! Yet, Jesus gently and graciously invited him to become a believer-disciple! How much more gracious and gentle did Jesus need to show Himself to be?
b) All who came to Jesus for healing bear testimony of this truth
The lepers would bear testimony of this! Jesus even touched them! What lowliness of spirit He displayed. The women folk, the children – all would be able to bear testimony of the fact that Jesus was truly lowly of heart!
“My yoke is easy and My burden is light”
What a wonderful promise this is! There is a yoke for every true believer. However, he must not fear that the yoke is too difficult or too heavy. He would never give to any believer-disciple something that cannot be borne!
John was one of the original disciples of Jesus. Many years later, John wrote these words to bear testimony that the yoke that he accepted from Jesus was not difficult.
“For this is the love of God , that we keep His
commandments. And His commandments are
1 John 5:3
John was the longest living disciple of the original twelve. Church tradition says that he lived till nearly a hundred years of age. It is believed that 1 John was written in the evening years of his life. His testimony is therefore most significant! John bore testimony that the yoke of Jesus is not burdensome! And all true disciples say “Amen!”