I’ll never forget the time in college my roommate and I hosted a 48 hour lock-in at his church. It was the ultimate lock-in – 48 hours of games, bowling, laser tag, roller skating, food, movies, capture the flag and a host of other fun events. Did mention it was 48 hours? Without sleep? With 75 teenagers? What were we thinking! But it was totally worth seeing God change their lives and we had a great time but I was extremely tired afterwards. After the lock-in I proceeded to drive three hours home but kept falling asleep – not a good situation. When I woke up driving in the median I decided to pull over in a Wal-Mart parking lot and sleep for a couple hours and then drive home. I was in need of rest! Oh, I’ve never done a lock-in since.
One of the scriptures I’ve found rest in over the years is Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto me and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This promise from Jesus is comprehensive and fulfilling. To experience this rest we must obey His command of “Come unto me”. There is no rest in Christ apart from Christ. If you are weary, tired, and in need of rest for your soul you must obey this call and He will give the rest. Notice Jesus tells us twice we will have rest in Him. What reassurance! The first is the initial rest one finds as they surrender their life to Christ. The second is the sustained rest of a living in Him. What burdens He lifts! What sorrows He heals! What sin He removes! What joy He brings!
Jesus continues by commanding us to take His yoke. A yoke was a device placed around oxen and attached to a plow or cart they are to pull. Nothing sounds “easy” about a yoke. By definition it seems like hard work. Jesus was referring to the burdensome yoke of self-righteousness and legalistic law-keeping of the Pharisees. That’s how they attempted holiness and righteousness by legalistic religion. But taking His yoke means to be voluntarily subject to Him – committing yourself to His rule, love, and service. It’s the freeing bond (not bondage) of repentance and faith. His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). It’s easy because He is gentle, loving, useful and kind. He is never selfish or rude. It is wholeheartedly being agreeable to His way and Kingdom because He knows best and desires best for us. Jesus carried our burden of sin at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Instead of being a burden He lifts burdens. Life in Him is not duty but delight. It is not a job but joy. It is not got to but get to! This initial state of rest is one of peace and joy solely given by surrendering your life to Christ. He Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).
“Learn of me” means to grow in Christ and live a disciple life. It is the abiding of which John 15 speaks. When you learn of Him you find rest for your souls. Learning and living a new life in Christ brings and sustains rest. Doing life His way is how we keep on having peace, joy, and fulfillment. The rest of Christ is not something He gives apart from Himself. It’s only by having Him and living in Him that true rest for your soul can be kept and enjoyed. This isn’t working for salvation as that comes exclusively by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Neither salvation nor rest comes without Christ. Consecrating your life in faith and wholeheartedly obeying Jesus brings rest for your soul. When you give up all to Jesus you will receive all from Jesus. Delighting yourself in the Lord gives you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Truthfully, delight in the Lord gives you His desires – He replaces our fleeting, deficient, and vague desires with His perfect, complete and fulfilling desires. That’s true sustaining rest!