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“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” (Matthew 11:28–30).

THE INVITATION OF JESUS IS AN INVITATION TO THE WEARY. The satisfied may find Him “interesting,” if even that, but those who recognize the toll that sin has taken upon them are desperate for relief. Poor in spirit, mourning for their sins, and hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:3–6), they long to hear more of what He meant when He said, “I will give you rest.”

It may seem odd that what Jesus offers to the weary is a yoke. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” But He knows the nature of our problem. We have worn ourselves out running away from reality and refusing to accept the rule of our Creator. Rebellion is, after all, an extremely exhausting enterprise, and we have found it to be so (despite the lie we were told by the tempter, who said that disobedience would be the way to real “life”). So what we need is not the “freedom” of more lawlessness; we need to return to the will of God and find our rest therein. In comparison to the yoke of the enemy, the yoke that Jesus offers is easy. It requires nothing but what contributes to our true and lasting good.

Jesus’ invitation is to learn from Him. The rest and refreshment He wants to give us can only be ours if we learn to think differently. Untruth must be replaced by truth. Dysfunctional concepts must be replaced by healthy ones. In short, we must learn a new “mind” (Philippians 2:5). “Do not be conformed to this world,” Paul wrote, “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

The truth will liberate us from what has enslaved us (John 8:32), but only if we submit to it — not just intellectually but in our deeds. Submission is hard, at least at first, since old habits die hard. But if rejecting the King’s rule is what killed us in the first place, we should not expect peace of mind if we won’t relearn the laws of obedience.

“It is not in understanding a set of doctrines, not in outward comprehension of the scheme of salvation, that rest and peace are to be found, but in taking up, in all lowliness and meekness, the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Frederick William Robertson).

Gary Henry — +

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