"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
ESV - 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
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Great question you've asked. One key answer is found in the following verse...29. "..and you will find rest for your soul." The soul refers to the mind, will, and the emotions. So Jesus is saying He will give us peace of mind. He will give us rest in decision making, and He will give us emotional stability. All these will influence every area of our lives in which the enemy can attack us. And in turn, with this kind of rest, there's ultimately physical rest because our lives will now be free of stress.
"O Lord, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law" (Psa 119:18) The Old Testament and the New Testament are the two lips of God to speak to us. The New is concealed in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New. We cannot understand one without the other. But the difference between the Testaments must be clearly understood. We have the shadow in the OT but the substance in the NT (Heb 10:1). The New Covenant, unlike the Old, is not of the letter but of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:6 Rom 7:6). In the OT the Law was written in tablets of stone, but now God writes it in our hearts of flesh (Jer 31:31-33; Heb 8:8-10; 2 Cor 3:3). The ceremonial part of the Law takes a spiritual meaning in the New Testament. For example, the Sabbath speaks of the rest Christ gives to His people here in our life and also in eternity (Mt 11:28; Heb 4:4-10). Eternal Rest The rest that remains for the people of God could not be: (i) Sabbath of Gen. 2: 1- 4, for this was God's rest and not man's The sabbath of Ex. 20: 8- 11 (ii) The rest in the promised land, for both David and Paul spoke of a future rest long after these three rests (Heb. 4: 7- 10) The rest that remains for the people of God is twofold: 1. Rest in Christ (Mt. 11: 28- 30 Heb. 4: 3) 2. Eternal rest in the next life (Heb. 3: 11, 18; 4: 1, 5, 9- 11 Rev. 14: 13) The New Covenant is called a "better" Covenant (Heb 7:22; 8:6). The core of the OT is all about what God "demands" whereas the core of the NT is all about what God "gives." Praise the Lord we are not under Law but under Grace (Rom 6:14). Let us stand firm in the liberty, and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1). In fact, those who attempt to be justified by Law have fallen from Grace (v4). Law and Grace cannot coexist. Ishmael and Isaac cannot dwell in the same house. An old cloth and a new piece should not be stitched together. The new wine cannot be kept in old bottles (Mt 9:16,17). By saying so we do not mean that the Old Testament is irrelevant to us today. Apart from the Law the OT contains prophecy, history and wisdom. "These were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor 10:11). The OT must be read and diligently studied by every Christian, but the interpretation and application must be always in the light of the NT. "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Christ's Church!" (C.H. Spurgeon, 1834-1892)
GOD (Jesus) worked for six days. On the seventh He took rest. This is favored to be known as His 'PERSONAL REST'. The sabbath day was never intended nor created for Adam. GOD never commanded Adam to keep a day set aside for Him for worship. No, He never did. He created Adam to give him eternal rest. Meaning to enjoy and bask in the glory of His wonder, His splendor, His glory, His creation, His planet Earth with Him our GOD. What a union that would have been! Adam lived a blessed and holy life, which was a state of bliss with GOD, trustful and obedient. He did not need to lift a finger to do any chores of burden. For all the hard work had all been but done. Remember GOD created everything not Adam. Thus ever so lucky, Adam walked and talked with GOD in the flesh in ecstasy in 'Eternal-Rest'. When Eve was created. Adam and Eve, did not need to set aside a day for worship with GOD neither, for they had it continually. For GOD was with them, in them, and through them. This is where the notion forever on my mind is asserted, for this is how Adam and Eve lived everyday of their lives. Giving thanks, worship and praise to GOD. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of GOD in Christ Jesus concerning you. This I feel is exactly what Adam and Eve would have been doing consciously and sub-consciously: giving thanks, praise and worship in everything that they did. So what is 'rest' in Matt 11:28? Jesus - GOD speaks of putting all your burdens of sin and placing them in the tabernacle of His heart. He will take your sorrows and woes away if you just TRUST in Him. We are plagued with a broken heart for the sins we commit forever asking 'I am ever going to be with you Jesus am I ever going to be enough'. Yes it is, your forever increasing TRUST in Him (some prefer Faith) is what washes all your sins away no matter how big or how small. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Now, when I repent a sin (change of mind) I am overcome with joy for I know my Trust in Him is strong. My Trust in Him is when I repent with my crying heart I am eternally forgiven. My woes and sufferings is placed in the Lords good and gracious hands. I can 'rest' in thought and knowing, that I am going home to be with GOD our Jesus. I then dream back to when Jesus first created Adam and Eve not only were their hearts at 'rest' but also their minds, bodies and souls were undeniably at 'rest' too. In the garden of Eden. This is what look we forward to in our Lord Jesus Christ the reassurance of 'PROMISE'. He promises 'grace in abundance' so long as we not only keep the Faith, we are to do much more than that...we are to increase our Faith every single second of our lives. Hand everything over to Jesus and allow The Holy Spirit to do His work. He will take care of the 'rest'...(is that a pun?). In finishing I'd like to assert the following verse: Matthew 6:26 (KJV) Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Can you see how much we mean to Him, you, me and everybody? He loves you so much that He is a very jealous GOD and to me that has me excited saying,'What? GOD...JESUS...gets jealous over me? Having a GOD who fights for our LOVE is the most amazing feeling ever in the whole wide world. The Holy Spirit is my magic carpet. The Father is my Abba. The Son is my addiction. God is the LOVE of our lives. He is our Eternal-Rest.
There are different approaches that can be used. There is universal truth where if you read from verse 28-30, one could say that if you allow Jesus into your life, He can give you rest from the stresses of life where the enemy tries to relentlessly attack us. There's nothing wrong with this perspective because that is truly something that Christ can & will provide to you should you allow Him into your heart. To get a better understanding of Matthew 11:28 and what Jesus is actually referring to, you would have to keep it in context with the passage. Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) states, "Come to Me, all you 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.” Jesus is calling all "...who labor and are heavy laden...". These are the people that He'll give rest to. He goes on to tell the Jews (remember the book of Matthew was written to the Hebrews) to take His yoke because it's easy and light, and once they understand what that is, they will have rest with their souls. So, why are they "...laboring and heavy laden..."? Let's go to the beginning of the chapter where John is in prison and he hears about the "...WORKS of CHRIST". Now, if you understand the divisions of the Covenant of the Law of Moses & the New Covenant of Grace, you will know that John is truly the last Old Testament/Covenant Prophet. His entire ministry was based off of the Old Covenant. So, when Jesus would practice under the Old Covenant, John and the rest of the Jews understood it but when Jesus began working under Grace, the Jews began to question His works. This is what John the Baptist was hearing about when he was in prison. So, John the Baptist began to question Jesus (see 11:2-3): "Are You the coming One, or do we look for another?" Yet, in his very own testimony (see John 1:31-34), he spoke of the revelation that was given to him from God, and he testified that Jesus is the "Son of God". Again, we have to understand that John's world just got turned upside down. He was an Old Covenant Prophet and didn't understand the New Covenant that Jesus came to bring.....he didn't understand when Jesus was functioning under Grace. Under the Covenant of the Law, YOU had to do something to be in right-standing with God; under the Covenant of Grace, Christ became that bridge to right-standing with God. Under the Old Covenant (of the Law), every year, the Jews had to make a sacrifice for their sins for the year. Under the New Covenant (of Grace), Christ became the last and final sacrifice for sins. So, reading along in 11:4-6, Jesus responds to the messengers that John sent and told John not to be offended in what He's doing. He doesn't completely understand the true mission of Christ. So, Christ told them to come to Him so that He can teach them and tell them what's about to happen. When they truly understand the grace that they are about to be under, they will rejoice in the finished works of Christ. If you read Romans and Galatians, it talks all about the two covenants. The law, although perfect in every sense, was not able to redeem us from eternal damnation (Romans 7:7-12). The Grace that was given to us is the "rest" that Jesus was talking about. Resting in His Grace.
In this verse, Jesus quotes or alludes to multiple passages from the Old Testament. The passages from the OT are of God speaking to his people. These are things God and only God does for the people. First, God calls the people who are in need to him (Isaiah 55:1). Those who are thirsty and hungry but have no money. Second, in the Old Testament, it is God who gives rest. Jesus is claiming to do what only God does in the Old Testament. His original audience would have immediately picked up on the scripture verses he is weaving together, and they would have recognized that Jesus is saying, “It is I who do the things that only God can do.” For instance, in Exodus 33:14 – God says to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” In 2 Samuel 7:11 – The LORD tells David, “I will also give you rest from all your enemies.” Jesus is pointing out that the authority of the Father - to give rest – is being passed down to the Son. Jesus continues, saying, “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.” He repeats the idea of rest but uses a different metaphor. In the first century, a “yoke” was a Rabbi’s interpretation of keeping the Old Testament commandments. This could be compared to the differing interpretations and demands placed on Christians by different denominations that would indicate to the human leaders one’s standing within the church (Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, etc.). Jesus’ yoke is “easy” or “good.” Although Jesus has a high ethical demand – “forgiveness” and “love of neighbor” regardless of who they are – he is not placing a burden of excess ritual or rules upon the follower as the Pharisees were known to do – see Matthew 23:4. The path Jesus gives us to walk is the path God originally intended for humanity. Jesus is making an allusion to Jeremiah 6:16 – which says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.”’” The word for “path” in Jeremiah – natib – has a moral sense to it, and it can mean a well-trodden path – or, to say, the habits you have developed in your life – but the path is to be a moral path. This is different than a second Hebrew word for path or way – derek – which can mean highway or physical path. Jesus is claiming that you follow him and his way (path) that it is the “ancient path” Jeremiah spoke of. Yes, it is a path of high ethical standards, but when we walk it, it will give us rest for our souls. This may also be why the early Church was referred to as "The Way." (Acts 9:2, Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23, Acts 22:4, Acts 24:14).
This is an interesting question, Ayodeji Obasan! I think it means that we can bring ALL our burdens to the Lord and put His promise to the test. Why? Because He is the Burden Bearer. He has challenged us, "Come unto Me, and rest." In my opinion the promise is to trust Him (Jesus) for our our future. He'll give what is best. Why fear when He says to us, "Come unto Me, and rest!”
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