Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden
Jesus has hit something of a brick wall in His evangelism (Matthew 11:20-24). He brings the living and life-giving word of God. He answers every question with the wisdom of heaven. He performs the mighty works of God. He is like a little oasis of paradise walking around planet earth. Everything that He touches turns to Eden. Everyone brought into His sphere is made whole and given peace.
But so many have looked on with cold, stony hearts. They have refused to acknowledge the bleeding obvious – that here is God’s Son come into His world to set it straight. Instead, when the light shines, people prefer the darkness.
Does this discourage Jesus? No. In fact He turns this into a prayer of praise!
“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. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Matthew 11:25-26)
The Lord of heaven and earth takes pleasure in hiding the truth from the wise and prudent. And He loves to reveal it to “babes”. Why babes?
Little children must receive everything. They are completely dependent, coming to their parents with empty hands. Jesus says, it’s the simple, dependent, child-like trusters who will understand the things of God. While the “wise and prudent” will have the truth hidden from them.
Where will God hide the truth? He will hide it on full display to the world. He will hide everything in Jesus:
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father” (Matthew 11:27)
God the Father commits everything into the hands of His Son. Even before the world began the Father was pouring His Spirit unto and into His Son. Jesus is the eternal Heir and Executor of the Father’s will. He is the hiding place of God. Therefore, verse 27 continues:
“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.”
There is a kind of “family secret” between God the Father and God the Son. If the verse ended with “save the Son” we would have an impenetrable “circle of trust.”
If it weren’t for the Son’s revelation, no-one would know God except God. The Father, Son and Spirit would be enjoying their own company. But that life would be closed off to us. This is a tragedy since, according to John 17:3, knowing the Father and Son is eternal life.
But the good news is that the Son reveals the Father. There is a Way into the family secret. There is a Way into the life of God. And His name is Jesus.
Therefore Jesus calls out to the whole world from verse 28 – Come! Come in! Come one! Come all! Come to me!
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Coming to Jesus means coming into true knowledge, true family, true life, true rest.
A yoke was the piece of wood that went across the shoulders of your oxen as they pulled your plough. The yoke ensures that oxen keep in step.
Jesus says that you and I have some kind of yoke. Even before we come to Him, He assumes we already have a yoke. And it’s heavy. So we plod through life attached to something. It could be another person; it could be some vision of the good life – career, family, travel; it could be some religious system. But we are yoked to something that determines our path, our speed, our direction. It controls our life. And it’s a heavy, wearying, burdensome weight.
Whatever that thing is, Jesus says – “Lay it down, and be yoked to Me. I’m the only one with an easy and light yoke. Every other yoke fits badly. But when you’re joined to me it’s not a burden – it’s true rest. Rest for your very soul.”
Nowhere else in the Bible does Jesus describe His heart. And how does He describe it here? Meek and lowly. There He stands – the Revelation of God; the Way of salvation; this world’s Centre of gravity; the Rest for weary – and He is meek and lowly. He is both great to still our fears, and gracious to win our hearts. And His offer stands today.
He says to us today “Lay down your burdensome quests and tiresome yokes. Come to me. Receive my rest. When you are joined to me, you are brought to the Father and drawn into the very life and family of God.”