COME TO ME
THE HEART OF JESUS
COME TO ME ALL WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
J H Jowett wisely wrote “This exquisite passage is like a flower which one is almost afraid to touch, lest he should spoil the delicate bloom. Yet to disturb the flower may awake a fragrance and distribute it to others.”
J C Ryle adds “There are few texts more striking than this in all the Bible—few that contain so wide and sweeping an invitation—few that hold out so full and comfortable a promise.” (Come Unto Me)
Indeed, as I began to compile the notes on this great passage, it became obvious to me that the simple words of Jesus were so profound that an entire book, even a library of books, could not exhaust their meaning. C H Spurgeon delivered 12 sermons on Mt 11:28-30 and yet said that one could not preach too often on these passages! Spurgeon wrote “there are mines of instruction here. Superficially read, this royal promise has cheered and encouraged tens of thousands, but there is a wealth in it which the diligent digger and miner shall alone discover. Its shallows are cool and refreshing for the lambs, but in its depths are pearls for which we hope to dive.”
And so the following comments are meant only to give you food for thought as you ponder these great words from our Savior. Let me strongly encourage you to treasure Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 in your heart (Memorize His Word), so that you will be able to meditate on them (Meditation) and allow your Teacher the Holy Spirit to minister deeply to your soul. You will not be disappointed.
THE GREAT INVITATION:
Come! The greatest invitation that ever issued from a Man’s lips. “Come!” Come the first time for salvation (Justification). In the context of Jesus’ preceding words in Matthew 11, this is the primary interpretation of His call to come…
COME TO JESUS
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
View Him prostrate in the garden;
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
While there must be this initial coming to Jesus for salvation rest found in justification, by way of application, there is a need for every saint to daily “Come” and allow the Spirit of Christ to grow us in grace and Christlikeness (2Pe 3:18–note) (Sanctification see Three Tenses of Salvation).
And then there will be a final invitation to “Come!” when Jesus invites us to come away to Him (if we pass away before He returns) or to come up to Him (if we are here to experience the Rapture – 1Th 4:17–note) and be with Him forever and ever in the eternal rest of Paradise! (Glorification). “Therefore comfort (present imperative-command to continually encourage) one another with” Jesus’ invitation to “Come!” (1Th 4:18–note)
I came to Jesus as I was,
Dear reader, at whatever stage of your life you find yourself, will you not hear the gracious invitation that falls from His perfect lips?
Will you not come dear struggling sinner, trying to make yourself acceptable to the Holy God?
Will you not come dear struggling saint, trying daily to earn your Father’s approval, trying daily to defeat that besetting sin that only the Spirit of Christ can defeat as you learn to cooperate with Him (Ro 8:13–note)?
And dear saint, will you not live in the light of His final call to “Come!”, allowing this firm anchor motivate a deep desire for daily purification (1Jn 3:3–note) and growth in likeness to Christ, your Lord?
And here is the great assurance that the One Who calls us to “Come” now will Himself come very soon, a coming for which we pray “Come Lord Jesus”…
Come – Not “do this” or “don’t do that” but simply “Come”. Note also that Jesus does not say come to the church, to a creed, to a clergyman, to a “denomination” or to anything but to Jesus Himself, to a vital, dynamic, radical relationship with the Living Lord. As Oswald Chambers says “Personal contact with Jesus alters everything.” Do nothing else but come to Him, for He alone is the way, the truth, the life (Jn 14:6). There is salvation rest in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved (the first time and then every day thereafter!). (Acts 4:12) Jesus is the narrow gate, the narrow way that leads to the rest of eternal life (Mt 7:13, 14). Inherent in Jesus’ call to come is that the hearer come now and not wait nor procrastinate – when you hear His invitation, that is the day of salvation (cp 2Cor 6:2).
J C Ryle exhorts us “Beloved brethren, see that you refuse not Him who speaks to you this day. If a letter came to you from the ruler of this country you would not despise it. If you were sick, and advice came from a wise physician, you would not reject it. If you were in danger, and counsel came from your best and truest friend, you would not make light of it. Then hear the words that Jesus sends to you this day. Listen to the King of kings. Then body and soul shall be His. (Come Unto Me)
Spurgeon as usual says it well “‘Come’; He drives none away; He calls them to Himself. His favorite word is ‘Come.’ (Ed: “Come” was the call to His first disciples – Mt 4:19YLT) Not, go to Moses – ‘Comeunto me.’ To Jesus Himself we must come, (How?) by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, nor ministry are we to come first; but to the personal Saviour.
How do we come to Jesus? The most “generic answer” is by faith and trust in Jesus.
Oswald Chambers adds that “The attitude of coming is that the will resolutely lets go of everything and deliberately commits all to Him.”
Adam Clarke says “Come to Me” “in the New Covenant implies simply, believing in Christ and becoming His disciple or follower.” Are you a follower of Christ? Have you come to Jesus?
William MacDonald elaborates on what it means to “Come” writing that “To come means to believe(Acts 16:31); to receive (John 1:12); to eat (John 6:35); to drink (John 7:37); to look (Isa. 45:22); toconfess (1 Jn. 4:2); to hear (John 5:24, 25); to enter a door (John 10:9); to open a door (Rev. 3:20); totouch the hem of His garment (Matt. 9:20, 21); and to accept the gift of eternal life through Christ our Lord (Ro 6:23).
James Smith addresses believers writing that “All true Christians know Christ—not with a mere theoretical knowledge, which may be obtained from books; but with a knowledge which the Holy Spirit works in the heart. We know Christ . . . in the glory of His person, in the perfection of His work, and in the riches of His wondrous grace. We so know Christ, that He stands out before us, as the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One. And the more we know Him—the more intimate we wish to become with Him! We not only know Christ—but we need Him. And the longer we live—the more we need Him. Nor do we merely need Christ, but we need everything in Christ, or that Christ has. We need . . .His blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to clothe us, and His Spirit to sanctify us. We need Christ daily, hourly! As we need Christ—so we come to Christ. Not once for all, but we continue to come. We must come to Him . . .in every trial, in every trouble, in every conflict, to unburden our minds, to find rest for our souls. We come to Him . . . for wisdom, for strength, for holiness. Much of experimental (experiential) religion consists in coming daily and hourly to Jesus!”
Come (1205) (deute) is an adverb which means “Come here!” or “Come on!” in the sense of a command or an exhortation. Deute is used with the plural imperative either expressed or more often understood (as in Mt 11:28). For example in Mt 4:19 Jesus says “Follow Me” or more literally “Come you after me” where the adverb deute functions as an aorist imperative, a command to do this now!
Spurgeon outlines Jesus’ special invitation…
1. It is personal — “Come unto me.” God directs to Christ, not to His members.
David Guzik observes that when Jesus commands men and women to “Come unto Me”, He demonstrates “His authority…This invitation is unthinkable in the mouth of anyone else but God, and woe to the men who call people to themselves instead of Jesus! (Matthew 11 Commentary)
Oswald Chambers comments on Jesus’ invitation to “Come” = When you hear those words you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, anything at all that will put the axe at the root of the thing which is preventing you from coming to Jesus. You will never get further until you are willing to do that one thing. The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him.
THE GREAT CONDITION:
All – This Greek word generally means all with no exceptions, and yet in the present context the all is in a sense restricted…restricted by Jesus statement to those humble souls who acknowledge their weariness of struggling with sin. This “all” is God’s “all merciful antidote” for the horrible “all” of Ro 3:23 where Paul says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience but with the “all” He flings opens the gates of salvation to sinners from every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation! As a Gentile believer, I praise God for this “all” from the lips of the Redeemer of mankind!
J C Ryle expounds on the “all” – The “laboring and heavy laden” describes all who are pressed down and burdened by a feeling of sin. It describes all whose consciences are set at work, and who are brought to concern about their soul—all who are anxious about salvation, and desire to have it—all who tremble at the thought of judgment, and know not how to get through it, and of hell, and are afraid of falling into it; and long for heaven, and dread not getting to it; and are distressed at the thought of their own sinfulness, and want deliverance. All such people appear to be the laboring and heavy laden to whom Jesus speaks….This was the state of mind in which we see the jailer at Philippi. He was roused from sleep by an earthquake. His fear brought his sin to his remembrance, and he came and fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is the state of mind I desire to see in each of you, for the beginning of all saving religion. You will never come to Christ until you feel your need. You ought, everyone, to feel laboring and heavy laden….But to all laboring and heavy laden souls, whoever they may be, to you Jesus speaks—to you is this word of salvation sent. Take heed that it is not in vain. Jesus speaks to ALL such: none are left out. (Come Unto Me)
John Gill – The persons invited are not ‘all’ the inhabitants of mankind, but with a restriction: ‘all ye that labor and are heavy laden,’ meaning not those who labor in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity and insensible of it: those are not weary of sin nor burdened with it, nor do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin on their consciences and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the Law and the load of their trespasses, and have been laboring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience and rest for their soul by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to Him, lay down their burdens at His feet and look to Him, and lay hold by faith on His person, blood and righteousness.
Matthew Henry – The character of the persons invited: all that labor and are heavy laden. This is a word in season to him that is weary (Isa. 50:4). Those that complain of the burden of the ceremonial law, which was an intolerable yoke, and was made much more so by the tradition of the elders (Luke 11:46); let them come to Christ and they shall be made easy….But it is rather to be understood of the burden of sin, both the guilt and the power of it. All those, and those only, are invited to rest in Christ that are sensible of sin as a burden and groan under it, that are not only convicted of the evil of sin—their own sin—but are contrite in soul for it; that are really sick of sin, weary of the service of the world and the flesh, that see their state sad and dangerous by reason of sin, and are in pain and fear about it: as Ephraim (Jer. 31:18-20), the prodigal (Luke 15:17), the publican (Luke 18:13), Peter’s hearers (Acts 2:37), Paul (Acts 9), the jailer (Acts 16:29, 30). This is a necessary preparative for pardon and peace”
John Calvin – He now kindly invites to Himself those whom He acknowledges to be fit for becoming His disciples. Though He is ready to reveal the Father to all, yet the great part are careless about coming to Him, because they are not affected by a conviction of their necessities. Hypocrites give themselves no concern about Christ because they are intoxicated with their own righteousness, and neither hunger nor thirst after His grace. Those who are devoted to the world set no value on a heavenly life. It would be vain therefore for Christ to invite either of these classes, and therefore He turns to the wretched and afflicted. He speaks of them as ‘labouring’ or being under a ‘burden,’ and does not mean generally those who are oppressed with griefs and vexations, but those who are overwhelmed by their sins, who are filled with alarm at the wrath of God and are ready to sink under so weighty a burden.
Adam Clarke explains – The metaphor (all who are weary and heavy laden) appears to be taken from a man who has a great load laid upon him, which he must carry to a certain place: every step he takes reduces his strength, and renders his load the more oppressive. However, it must be carried on; and he labors, uses his utmost exertions, to reach the place where it is to be laid down. A kind person passing by, and, seeing his distress, offers to ease him of his load, that he may enjoy rest.
The Jews, heavily laden with the burdensome rites of the Mosaic institution, rendered still more oppressive by the additions made by the scribes and Pharisees, who, our Lord says, (Mt 23:4) bound on heavy burdens; and laboring, by their observance of the law, to make themselves pleasing to God, are here invited to lay down their load, and receive the salvation procured for them by Christ. (Ed: Are you laboring to make yourself “pleasing to God?” This is a subtle trap into which we all so easily fall because we have been so well trained to be “man pleasers” and think that we can please God in the same manner we have learned to “please” men!)
Penitents (those who feel or show sorrow and regret for against the Holy God), burdened with the guilt of their crimes, may come to this Sacrifice, and find instant pardon (cp 1Jn 1:9, Pr 28:13–note).
Believers, sorely tempted, and oppressed by the remains of the carnal mind (the “flesh”), may come to this blood, that cleanses from all unrighteousness; and, purifies from all sin, and powerfully succors (Literally, succor means to run to or run to support; hence that which provides help or relieve when in difficulty, want, distress or suffering) in every temptation (every trial), they shall find uninterrupted rest in this complete Saviour.
All are invited to come, and all are promised rest. If few find rest from sin and vile affections, it is because few come to Christ to receive it. (Comment: How often we refuse to “Come” because we enjoy our sin more than we desire the Savior at that moment. God help us to “Come” quickly to Jesus!)
Note that Jesus directs His call to the heavy burdened, to the weak, not the strong. “He called those who sensed they must come to Him to relieve their need instead of living in self-sufficiency.” (Guzik) God is ever opposed to the proud, but stands ready to give abundant grace to the humble of heart. (James 4:6–note) Therefore ” Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10–note)
Jesus’ invitation in the New Testament to come and be refreshed recalls Jehovah’s offer in the Old Testament to His people to rest in the New Covenant…
For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes. (Jer 31:25).
Weary and heavy laden – As Jesus said elsewhere it is not the (spiritually) well who need a physician but the (spiritually) sick. Do you even see your need to come to Jesus? As MacDonald says “In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved.” As discussed earlier, while Jesus’ invitation is especially a call to come to Him for salvation, the call is also applicable to saints who are weary in their struggle to live the Christian life in their own strength.
Are weary (2872)(kopiao from kopos = labor, fatigue) This root word kopos (see word study) is used in secular Greek of “a beating,” “weariness” (as though one had been beaten) and “exertion,” was the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or heat. Kopiao means to to exhibit great effort and exertion, to the point of sweat and exhaustion. To physically become worn out, weary or faint. To engage in hard work with the implication of difficulty and trouble. The work described by kopiao was left one so weary it was as if the person had taken a beating. Kopiao describes not so much the actual exertion as the weariness which follows the straining of all one’s powers to the utmost. Figuratively kopiaomeans to become emotionally fatigued and/or discouraged and thus to lose heart and/or give up. Thepresent tense presents the pathetic picture of one who is persistently physically weary and tired, spiritually exhausted, discouraged and ready to “throw in the towel”! Does that describe you dear reader? Then Jesus’ words of promised presence and power are perfect for you dear weary one!
John MacArthur – Weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts.
Illustration of Very, Very Weary – The date was August 15, 1930. On that day, a 45-year-old New York State Supreme Court Justice named Joseph Crater, after spending an evening eating out with friends, hailed a taxi and was never seen or heard from again. It remains one of the most mystifying Missing Person cases in FBI files. The FBI immediately suspected a kidnapping by someone who held a judicial grudge against Justice Crater. But that didn’t seem to pan out. They then suspected Mafia activity because Justice Crater was an enemy of the Mafia. But, again, that led nowhere. There is only one clue which remains to this day. When Mrs. Crater returned to their apartment the evening her husband disappeared, there on the table was a large check made out to her and a note attached to the check in her husband’s handwriting which simply said, “I am very, very tired. Love, Joe” Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! Maybe you can relate to Joe Carter– tired and stressed out in life thoughts of Checking out! 2% of Americans are regularly dealing with stress –Those most likely to deal with stress are those in their 40’s.
I walked life’s path with worry,
Spurgeon….expounds on the meaning of weary…”all ye that labor,” in whatever form.
In the service of formal religion, in the attempt to keep the law, or in any other way of self-justification.
In the service of self to get gain, honor, ease, etc.
J C Philpot on “weary” – The Lord’s purpose in laying burdens upon us is to weary us out. We cannot learn our religion in any other way. We cannot learn it from the Bible, nor from the experience of others. It must be a personal work, wrought in the heart of each; and we must be brought, all of us, if ever we are to find rest in Christ, to be absolutely wearied out of sin and self, and to have no righteousness, goodness, or holiness of our own. The effect, then, of all spiritual labor is to bring us to this point: to be weary of the world, for we feel it, for the most part, to be a valley of tears; to be weary of self, for it is our greatest plague; weary of professors, for we cannot see in them the grace of God, which alone we prize and value; weary of the profane, for their ungodly conversation only hurts our minds; weary of our bodies, for they are often full of sickness and pain, and always clogs to our soul; and weary of life, for we see the emptiness of those things which to most people make life so agreeable. By this painful experience we come to this point: to be worn out and wearied; and there we must come, before we can rest entirely on Christ. As long as we can rest in the world, we shall rest in it. As long as the things of time and sense can gratify us, we shall be gratified in them. As long as we can find anything pleasing in self, we shall be pleased with it. As long as anything visible and tangible can satisfy us, we shall be satisfied with them. But when we get weary of all things visible, tangible, and sensible—weary of ourselves, and of all things here below—then we want to rest upon Christ, and Christ alone.
Heavy laden (5412) (phortizo from phortos = something carried [Acts 27:10 = freight of a ship], from phero = to bring or carry) means to load or burden with something, to cause someone to carry something, to overburden. Phortizo in a figurative sense describes overburdening someone spiritually (with ceremony, rules, laws, etc).
In the only other NT use Jesus used phortizo to describe the lawyers (prototypical “legalists” in a spiritual sense) placing impossible religious demands on the the people, especially the “burden” of keeping the law.
Luke 11:46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down (verb – phortizo) with burdens (noun – phortion) hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
Heavy laden here in Matthew is in the perfect tense which describes a past completed action (at some point they became weary) with ongoing effect (they are still weary). They are pictured as overloaded like beasts of burden.
MacArthur adds that in the passive voice the idea is “that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person.” He goes to explains that while “weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness.”
Jesus bore every burden we could never bear, just as prophesied by Isaiah…
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
Spurgeon writes that all who are “heavy laden” are called….
Laden heavily because weary, vexed, disappointed; despairing.
James Montgomery Boice explains that “The phrase “weary and burdened” does not refer to physical weaknesses or to what we might call the burdens of a difficult life, though it may include them. It chiefly refers to a sense of sin’s burden and the need of a Savior. The context makes this clear, for the earlier verses describe the rejection of John the Baptist and Jesus by the Jewish masses, followed by the Lord’s denunciation of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their failure to repent at Jesus’ preaching.They were not burdened by sin. They were getting along just fine. Still, there were people who were burdened, and these people believed that Jesus could lift sin’s weight and turned to him to do it.These people listened to Him, trusted Him, and found salvation. (The Gospel of Matthew – Baker Books)
THE GREAT PROMISE:
I will give you rest – Note that we are not invited to come to a doctrine which is systematic (as good and necessary as that might be), but to a Savior Who is Divine, to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is our Rest! Are you learning how to abide in Him, to rest in Him? If not, you will grow weary even of “well doing”! It seems that many of God’s children are growing weary of following Jesus, and are being swept away into the bypaths of this technologically tempting, but temporal world system which is headed by Satan (1Jn 5:19). As a result many of God’s children are restless (“weary and heavy-laden”) and desperately need to hear and heed Jesus’ sweet call to “Come” to Him. He will give a rest the world can neither give nor understand!
Paul gives us a clue to how we can learn to abide and shows us the “fruit” of this learning – Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Test question – Do you give thanks in every circumstance? 1Th 5:18 Do you consider it all joy when you encounter various trials? James 1:2. As you practice these disciplines of gratitude and joy, you will come more and more to learn that it is only as you relinquish your “rights”, your “power” and rely on the indwelling enabling power of the Holy Spirit that you will begin to learn the secret of the “Christ life”.). 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11, 12, 13)
I will give – Rest is a divine gift, but note that Jesus’ promise of rest is conditional. It is conditioned on the individual making the personal choice to “Come” at His bidding! He is “gentle and humble in heart” and so He will not coerce or force us to come to Him against our will!
Thomas Brooks writes on “I will give you rest”- “Come,” says Christ, “and I will give you rest.” I will not show you rest, nor barely tell you of rest, but I will give you rest. I am faithfulness itself, and cannot lie, I will give you rest. I who have the greatest power to give it, the greatest will to give it, the greatest right to give it, come, laden sinners, and I willgive you rest. Rest is the most desirable good, the most suitable good, and to you the greatest good. Come, says Christ; that is, believe in Me, and I will give you rest; I will give you peace with God, and peace with conscience: I will turn your storm into an everlasting calm; I will give you such rest, that the world can neither give to you nor take from you.
Augustine has a well known quote that relates to the divine rest that Jesus offers “Lord, Thou madest us for Thyself, and we can find no rest till we find rest in Thee!”
Samuel Rutherford wrote “There are many heads resting on Christ’s bosom, but there’s room for yours there.”
How blest Thy saints! How safely led!
Note that this rest is not just any rest, but is rest which is given by Jesus. In Hebrews 4:3 and Hebrews 4:5the writer quotes God as describing the rest available to believers as “My rest“. Therefore this rest is in every sense a divine rest, the rest the Creator Himself enjoys, a rest that is joyous, satisfying and productive, in every sense a supernatural rest. Can you grasp that incredible truth? In a world that is becoming increasingly restless, believers have the invitation to trust in a quality of rest that is literally “other worldly.”
Oswald Chambers comments that Jesus says “I will give you rest,” i.e., I will stay you (Ed: Support you from sinking, sustain you with strength). Not – I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but – I will get you out of bed, out of the languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead while you are alive; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity.
David who was often surrounded by tumultuous circumstances (and had learned to rest in the Lord) wrote…
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.
Comment: Rest in this psalm is a verb and is in the form of a command for the reader to rest and be quiet in God, which parallels Jesus’ command to Come and enter into His blessed rest!
As we have alluded to earlier, every believer enters the rest of justification and that only once, but then every believer must learn to enter His blessed, divine rest daily, yea, even moment by moment (the rest of sanctification). It is available, but it requires a choice to trust Him (see more discussion on this topic below). And so when the circumstances of the day seem too much to bear, we do well to recall that there is always an invitation to share the yoke with One Whose strength never fails and the result is rest for our souls.
Are you learning the secret of daily entering into the Savior’s rest
In light of the preciousness of God’s rest, the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers…
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
Comment: While this passage is referring in context to the rest of salvation (justification), the principle is still applicable to believers to be diligent to enter the rest Jesus provides continually in our journey of sanctification.
Rest (refresh) (373)(anapauo from ana = again, back, or even as intensifying the meaning of the verb +pauo = to cease or give rest) means to cause someone to become physically refreshed as the result of resting from work which is what Jesus did with his disciples in Mark 6:31.Anapauo can also refer tospiritual refreshment or revival which is Jesus’ sense here in Mt 11:28.
Vine writes that “anapauo signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care. Its chief significance is that of taking, or causing to take, rest; it is used in the middle voice in Luke 12:19, “take (thine) ease,” indicative of unnecessary, self-indulgent relaxation. In the papyri it is used technically, as an agricultural term.
Our English word “refresh” means to restore or give new strength or energy to, to invigorate, to relieve after fatigue, to reanimate after depression, to revive what is drooping, to restore or maintain by renewing supply. Each of these nuances could be applied to our spiritual life and the effect of the rest that Jesus gives us when we come to Him. For example, when Jesus refreshes, He restores our strength or gives us new spiritual strength, He relieves our spiritual fatigue, He revives our drooping spirits, etc.
In Jesus’ parable of the rich farmer (Lk 12:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23), He contrasts rest with anxietyabout this life and its attendant fear of being without earthly possessions (which usually end up “possessing” the possessor!)…
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease (Young’s Literal = “be resting“- anapauo is in the present imperative – he is “preaching” to his soul to rest – contrast the “Jesus way” – simply come to Him, take His yoke, learn from Him, then your receive supernatural rest, not the ethereal, fleeting “rest” the world and worldly possessions offer! There is simply no comparison!), eat, drink and be merry.”‘ (Luke 12:19)
In this parable, the “rich man” thought that he could “rest” (take ease) in the fact that he had earthly goods, but Jesus shattered this false hope (for him and for all who trust in earthly possessions) by pointing out that true rest comes from knowing that the Father in heaven cares for us (Lk 12:24, 28,30, 31) and will provide all we need (cp Php 4:19).
When we’re discouraged spiritually
Rest for the restless soul is found in the Word, in Jesus the Incarnate Word Who invites us to “Come“…
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)
Dost ask who that may be?
J Vernon McGee in his commentary on the book of Ruth writes that “This is a rest that only a Godly Redeemer can provide. It is the rest of redemption. After God created the heavens and the earth, Scripture instructs us that He rested. That was a Creation Rest. All was good and complete, and nothing needed to be done to improve it. Then man sinned, and God broke His creation rest. “His ox was in the ditch,” and God began to move to get man out of the ditch of sin. From that day on, God has not rested. Christ said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). God will not rest until redemption is finished and sin is destroyed….The redemption restthat is provided today for a lost sinner is to cease from his own works and trust his Redeemer-Kinsman to provide his rest. Hebrews 4:9, 10 tells us, “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” This is the rest that comes when we no longer trust our works but receive His work of redemption on the Cross as the penalty for our sins. Furthermore, we are instructed to rest in Him daily and to commit our every problem and difficulty to Him, as Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you” (1Pet 5:7). Only in our great Redeemer is there rest for the restless heart of man from the threshing floor of this world, with its chaff, stubble, and crowd. (Ruth and Esther : Women of faith)
Can you trust God to take care of your needs? There is no rest in this life without trust in His life giving provisions. As believers, those who have experienced the initial reality of resting our restless hearts in Christ, what is the greatest problem we face? Do we believe God can meet it? Can we—will we—trust him? If so, God’s Word, in the present passage, the Incarnate Word Himself, offers rest. Spurgeon said that “Faith is reason at rest in God.” The writer of Hebrews said “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).
James Smith reminds us as believers “There is no rest for the Christian in this world. There will be always something to disturb, perplex or distress him; it is an enemy’s land.”But Jesus says, “I will give you rest.” He does so by enabling us to . . .rely on His Word, recognize His hand, submit to His will, and trust in His perfect work. He assures us . . . that our sins are forgiven; that we are safe in His keeping; that His presence shall always be with us; and that all things shall work together for our eternal good.
We can rest on His faithfulness—for He has been tried, and found faithful.
We cannot rest . . . on our graces, on our comforts, on our friends, or on our possessions.”
We may rest on Jesus alone.
Spurgeon comments: He calls the rest still his own, and feels full liberty to return to it. What a mercy it is that even if our soul has left its rest for a while we can tell it — “it is thy rest still.” The Psalmist had evidently been somewhat disturbed in mind, his troubles had ruffled his spirit but now with a sense of answered prayer upon him he quiets his soul. He had rested before, for he knew the blessed repose of faith, and therefore he returns to the God who had been the refuge of his soul in former days. Even as a bird flies to its nest, so does his soul fly to his God. Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays, and the Lord inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to follow it.
John Newton asks “HOW is this rest to be obtained? Blessed be God, in that way which alone can render it attainable by such unworthy indigent creatures. If it was to be bought—we have nothing to offer for it. If it was given as a reward of merit—we can do nothing to deserve it. But Jesus has said, “I will give you rest!” Our title to it cost Him dear; He purchased it for us with His own blood; but to us it comes freely. Sincere faith in Jesus puts us in immediate possession of the first-fruits, the pledge of this inheritance; and faith will lead us powerfully and safely, through all hindrances and enemies, to the full enjoyment of the whole. FAITH unites us to Christ; gives us an immediate interest in all the benefits of His life, death, and intercession; opens the way of communication for all needful supplies of grace here, and insures to us the accomplishment of all the Lord has spoken to us of, in a state of glory. “He who believes shall be saved;” (Mark 16:16) —saved in defiance of all the opposition of earth and hell; saved, notwithstanding he is in himself unstable as water, weak as a bruised reed, and helpless as a newborn babe! What Jesus will give—none can take away. Only remember that it is a free gift.Receive it thankfully—and rejoice in the Giver. Let Him have all the glory of His own undertaking. Renounce every other hope and every other plea—but His promise and mediation. Commit your souls to Him—and then fear nothing. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” (Dt 33:27) He will fight your battles, heal your wounds, refresh your fainting spirits, guide you by His counsel while here, and at last receive you to Himself! (The Present and Future Rest of True Believers)
Spurgeon’s notes on Mt 11:28…- This text is often preached from, but never too often, since the sorrows with which it deals always abound, and the remedy is always effective. This time we purpose to view it from our Lord’s side. He entreats the weary to come to him. He beseeches them to learn of him. He not only receives those who come, but begs them to come. What is this desire which burns in his bosom? And whence comes it?
Let us carefully consider—
I. WHO IS HE?
1. One who has been rejected, yet he cries “Come unto me.”
2. One whose rejection involves us in fearful guilt, yet he is ready to forgive, and to bestow rest upon us if we come.
3. One who knows his Father’s purpose, but fears not to give a pressing invitation to all who labor and are heavy laden.
4. One who has all power to receive such as come, and to give rest to them all. This is no vain invitation saying more than it means.
5. One who as the Son of God is infinitely blessed, and yet finds new joy in giving rest to poor restless men.
II. WHOM DOES HE CALL, AND WHY?
1. Laborers, with more than they can do: disquieted, unhappy. These he calls to himself that he may give them rest, and cause them to find rest.
2. Heavy laden ones, with more than they can bear: oppressed, sorrowful, ready to die.
3. The poor and illiterate who need to be taught.
4. The spiritually burdened, who much need a helping hand, and can only find it in him.
III. WHAT CAUSES HIS DESIRE FOR THEM?
Not his own need of them.
Not their personal worthiness.
Nor aught that they are or can ever be. But,—
1. He has a love to our race.
“My delights were with the sons of men”: Pr 8:31.
2. He is himself a man, and knows the needs of men.
IV. HOW THEN SHALL WE TREAT THIS CALL?
1. It is very earnest, let us heed it.
A W Pink asks – What did our Lord here signify, when He bade all the weary and heavy laden to come unto Him? It is quite evident that coming to Christ is something more than a physical act. Coming to Christ in the sense He here invited, is a going out of the soul after Him, a desire for Him, a seeking after Him, a personal embracing of and trusting in Him. It is the heart turning from the love of sin—to the love of holiness; from Self—to the Savior! A saving coming to Christ denotes a turning our backs upon the world—and turning our hearts unto Him as our only Hope and Portion. It is the abandoning of every idol—and the surrendering of ourselves to His Lordship. It is the repudiation of our own righteousness and every dependency, and the heart going out to Him in loving submission and trustful confidence. It is the entire going out of Self with all its resolutions and performances, to cast ourselves upon His grace and mercy. It is the will yielding itself up to His authority to be molded by Him, and to follow Him wherever He may lead. In short, coming to Christ is the whole soul of a guilty and self-condemned sinner—turning unto a whole Christ, in the exercise of all our facilities, responding to His claims upon us, prepared to unreservedly trust, sincerely love, and devotedly serve Him. (Excerpt from The Call of Christ)
J C Ryle asks “What is the invitation to the laboring and heavy laden? Jesus says, “come unto Me.” I love that word “Come.” To me it seems full of grace, mercy and encouragement. “Come now,” says the Lord in Isaiah, “and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Come is the word put in the mouth of the king’s messenger in the parable of the guest-supper: “All is now ready; come unto the marriage.” Come is the last word in the Bible to sinners. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” Jesus does not say, “Go and get ready.” This is the word of the Pharisee and self-righteous. “Go and work out a righteousness. Do this and that and be saved.” Jesus says “Come.”
Jesus does not say “Wait.” This is the word of the enthusiast and the fanatic. “You can do nothing. You must not ask; you cannot pray; you must sit still.” Cold comfort for troubled souls. Jesus says come.”
Come is a word of merciful invitation. It seems to say, “I want you to escape the wrath to come. I am not willing that any should perish. I have no pleasure in death. I would gladly have all men saved, and I offer all the water of life freely. So come to Me.”
Come is a word of gracious expectation. It seems to say, “I am here waiting for you. I sit on my mercy-seat expecting you to come. I wait to be gracious. I wait for more sinners to come in before I close the door. I want more names written down in the book of life before it is closed forever. So come to Me.”
Come is a word of kind encouragement. It seems to say, I have got treasures to bestow if you will only receive them. I have that to give which makes it worth while to come: a free pardon, a robe of righteousness, a new heart, a star of peace. So come to Me.
Brethren, I ask you to hear these words and lay them to heart. I plead for my Master; I stand here an ambassador; I ask you to come and be reconciled to God.
I ask you to come with all your sins, however many they may be. If you come to Him they will be taken away. I ask you to come as you are. You feel unfit; you say you are not good enough. The worse you think yourself, the better prepared you are. Christ is not a Savior of those who think they are righteous—but of sinners. I ask you to come now. No other time is your own. The opportunity past, the door will be shut, and yourself dead. Come now. Come to Christ.
Ah! brethren, I fear that many of you will not take one saving step—will not come to Christ. You go on content with your own devices, like Balaam; like Felix, you never finally come to Christ.
I warn you plainly that you may come to church, and come to the Lord’s table, and come to the minister, and yet never be saved. The one thing needed is actual coming to the Savior, actual coming to the Fountain, actual washing in the blood of atonement. Except you do this, you will die in your sins.
Gird up your loins like a man, and resolve that you will come. Do you feel vile and unworthy to come? Tell it to Jesus. Do you feel as if you know not what to say and do when you come? Tell it to Jesus. Tell Him you are all sin; tell Him you are all weakness; tell Him you feel as if you had no faith and no power, no grace and no strength, no goodness and no love—but come to Him, and commit your soul to His charge. Let nothing keep you back from Christ.
Tell Him you have heard that He receives sinners; that you are such a one, and you want to be saved. Tell Him you have nothing to plead but His own word—but He said Come, and therefore you come to Him. (Come Unto Me).
Octavius Winslow adds that “The life of faith is a constant coming to Jesus for daily, hourly, and fresh supplies.
Let every circumstance and event, every trial, sorrow, and need, be an echo of the gracious life inspiring words: “Go to Jesus!”
Go to Jesus, confessing sin. Go to Jesus, unveiling grief. Go to Jesus, telling need. Go to Jesus, breathing love, desire, and hope.
You are still in the land of famine and of need. But your heavenly Father would remind you that He has anticipated and provided . . .for all your requirements, for all your history, for your daily demands, in Him whom whose fullness fills all in all.
Take the hard heart, or the broken heart; take the cold heart, or the glowing heart; take your barrenness, or your fruitfulness; take the sunbeam of prosperity, or the cloud of adversity; take the joy, take the sorrow; take all to Jesus!
Let Him participate in all, keep you in all, sympathize with all; for Jesus is your Brother, raised up to befriend, relieve, and preserve you in your time of need.
J C Philpot asks “Are you ever weary . . .of the world, of sin, of self, of everything below the skies? If so, you want something to give you rest.
You look to SELF—it is but shifting sand, tossed here and there with the restless tide, and ever casting up mire and dirt. No holding ground; no anchorage; no rest there.
You look to OTHERS—you see what man is, even the very best of men in their best state—how fickle, how unstable, how changing and changeable; how weak even when willing to help; how more likely to add to, than relieve your distress; if desirous to sympathize with and comfort you in trouble and sorrow, how short his arm to help, how unsatisfactory his aid to relieve! You find no rest there.
You lean upon the WORLD—it is but a broken reed which runs into your hand and pierces you. You find no rest there.
So look where you will, there is no rest for the sole of your foot.
John MacDuff addresses the question…
“Oh, where can rest be found?” This is the cry of weary, care worn humanity.
This is the cry embracing every nation and every climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the longings and aspirations of the present hour. From the tumultuous sea of the world’s unrest, this cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls, “Oh, where can rest be found?”
“Come unto me,” is the address of many siren voices, titillating tones of questionable or forbidden pleasure, leading only to . . .unrest, disquiet, heart weariness, life failure; tinted soap bubbles with a momentary iridescence, then collapsing.
The existence of many is a pursuit after spurious and counterfeit rest, misnamed “happiness”; an aimless, vapid life of pleasure; engrossed with objects which bring with them no sense of satisfaction; a dull, weary round on the world’s monotonous treadmill.
Some strive to find rest through the gateway of ethical systems and philosophic tenets.
Others, through the gateway of human merit.
Others through . . .ceremonial observances, fasts and vigils, penances and pilgrimages, rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas.
These, and such as these, are alike spurious and unavailing.
“Oh, where can rest be found?”
Matthew 11:28 is the answer, the only real answer!
LEARNING TO REST (Isaiah 30:15) – Many Christians are anxious and troubled. Although they are experiencing the “rest” of salvation that accompanies the forgiveness of sins and are looking forward to the eternal “rest” of heaven, their souls are still in turmoil. Fearful and doubting, they seem to be continually burdened by life’s problems. A closer look at their anxiety can reveal the reason for their distress. Having never learned to rest in the Lord, they fail to experience the “quietness and confidence” (Isaiah 30:15) that comes to those who daily fellowship with Him through Bible study and prayer.
An unknown author has penned a verse describing the problem:
We mutter and sputter, we fume and we spurt;
Don’t let yourself become a victim of fruitless fretting. If you do, you’ll lose the peace and joy that is your rightful heritage. Instead, set aside part of each day to talk with God, thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for you. Then, by reading His word and believing His comforting promises, your faith will grow stronger and a supernatural peace will flood your soul. Jesus said, “Come to Me,…and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). Have you learned to rest in Him? – Henry G. Bosch
When we put our problems in God’s hands,
A band of explorers in Africa hired some villagers to help them on their journey through the jungle. The group set out and pushed on relentlessly for several days. Finally the tribesmen sat down and would go no farther. When asked the reason, their leader answered, “We’ve been going too fast. We must pause and wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies!”
Many Christians who have overextended themselves in a flurry of church activities or other worthwhile pursuits have experienced a similar feeling. Being so preoccupied with helping others, they suddenly feel as if they have left behind the most important part of themselves—their soul. They have lost intimate contact with the Lord.
If our schedule leaves no time for rest and nurturing our spiritual life, we are just too busy! God does not ask us to be constantly on the go, rushing here and there. Sometimes He wants us to “rest a while” so that our souls can “catch up” and be refreshed for the challenges that lie ahead.—H. G. Bosch
REST BY THE FIRE – When guests at The Houstonian Hotel in Houston, Texas, enter the main lobby on a searingly hot summer day, they are often surprised to see flames dancing in a huge stone fireplace. If it’s scorching outside and the air conditioning is humming away, why have a fire burning inside? Because people like to gather around a fire. The gas logs don’t produce much heat, but there’s something warm, inviting, and relaxing about the flickering light. It seems to say, “Pull up a chair, sit clown, and rest awhile.”
As I read the Bible, I often sense that weary, anxious people were drawn to Jesus Christ in much the same way that travelers today are drawn toward the fireplace in that Texas hotel.
A Christian who loves Jesus is sometimes said to be “on fire for the Lord.” What a great way to describe the warm, inviting presence of Christ that radiates from the lives of His children before the eyes of weary people in a troubled world! —D. C. M.
RESTING ON JESUS – A missionary in Africa experienced great difficulty in trying to translate the Gospel of John into the local dialect. He faced the problem of finding a word for believe. When he came to that particular word, he always had to leave a blank space.
Then one day a runner came panting into the camp, having traveled a great distance with a very important message. After blurting out his story, he fell exhausted into a hammock nearby. He muttered a brief phrase that seemed to express both his great weariness and his contentment at finding such a delightful place of relaxation. The missionary, never having heard these words before, asked a bystander what the runner had said. “Oh, he is saying, `I’m at the end of myself, therefore I am resting all of my weight here!”‘ The missionary exclaimed, “Praise God! That is the very expression I need for the word believe!”
REST IN THE STORM – I heard about a submarine that was on patrol during wartime and had to remain submerged overnight. When it resurfaced the next day, a friend on another ship radioed the captain, “How did you fare in that terrible storm last night?” Surprised, the officer exclaimed, “What storm? We didn’t know there was one!” Although the ocean’s surface had been whipped into huge waves by high winds, the vessel was not affected because the waters below remained calm and tranquil.
Someone once outlined the words of Isaiah 26:3 this way:
You—a Precious God.
Perfect peace—a Priceless Possession.
Whose mind is stayed on You—a Present focus.
Because he trusts in You—a Powerful faith.
The believer who is confident of God’s providence, who rests in His grace, and who relies on His Holy Spirit will experience the miracle of His quieting peace. —H. G. Bosch
When we fix our mind on Jesus,
From nature we can learn a lesson about the importance of rest. Built into the life of every tree are stages of dormancy. In his book As a Tree Grows, W Phillip Keller points out that in northern climates the dormant phase is in the winter, and in the tropical regions it is during the hot, dry season. “It is important to understand,” says Keller, that dormancy is not death. A tree may appear to be dead, it is true. The leaves of deciduous trees will be all stripped off in the fall, leaving a stark skeleton. The tree is nevertheless very much alive—but at rest.” He added that this dormancy is immediately followed by a period of active growth. The dormant phase is a rebuilding and reconditioning for the upsurge of vigorous activity ahead.
Some Christians think that inactivity is a waste of time. They see the occasional lulls that come into life as being unproductive. But that is not necessarily the case. Notice what Christ did for His disciples after they had finished a strenuous period of evangelistic activity He led then into the wilderness to rest so they could be restored for further service. —D. C. Egner
Time in Christ’s service
RESTING ON THE BIBLE – Resting on the Bible: — In Newport church, in the Isle of Wight, lies buried the Princess Elizabeth (daughter of Charles the First). A marble monument, erected by our Queen Victoria, records in a touching way the manner of her death. She languished in Carisbrook Castle during the wars of the Commonwealth — a prisoner, alone, and separated from all the companions of her youth, tilt death set her free. She was found dead one day, with her head leaning on her Bible, and the Bible open at the words,
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
The monument in Newport church records this fact. It consists of a female figure reclining her head on a marble book, with our text engraven on the book. Think, my brethren, what a sermon in stone that monument preaches. Think what a stunning memorial it affords of the utter inability of rank and high birth to confer certain happiness. Think what a testimony it bears to the lesson before you this day — the mighty lesson that there is no true rest for any one excepting in Christ. -Happy will it be for your soul if that lesson is never forgotten.
Here is an excerpt from the related Wikipedia article – Following her death, her grave was largely unmarked until the 19th century, with the exception of her carved initials: E[lizabeth] S[tuart]. Queen Victoria, who made her favourite home at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, commanded that a suitable monument be erected to her memory. In 1856, a white marble sculpture by Queen Victoria’s favorite sculptor Carlo Marochetti was commissioned for her grave that depicted Elizabeth as a beautiful young woman, lying with her cheek on a Bible open to words from Gospel of Matthew: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Above the sculpture is a grating, indicating that she was a prisoner, but the bars are broken to show that the prisoner has now escaped to “a greater rest.” The plaque marking the sculpture reads: “To the memory of The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died at Carisbrooke Castle on September 8, 1630, and is interred beneath the chancel of this church, this monument is erected as a token of respect for her virtues and of sympathy for her misfortunes, by Victoria R., 1856.” (Princess Elizabeth of England)