Slow Down (Matt. 11:28-30)

Humans want what we want, when we want it. We want it our way, according to our will. Maybe if we admitted this flaw in our nature we might understand better our need to live for the Lord and by His will. Matthew 11 is a chapter about the restoration of the senses — sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Jesus charged the disciples of John the Baptist to report the miracles, gave a tribute to John, challenged the culture, and condemned cities where He did most of His works but the people did not repent (vv. 1-24). Jesus exalted the will of the Father (vv. 25-27) and then gave the people an invitation.

Do not be like Chorazin, Bethsaida or Capernaum, who saw My works and did not repent. Instead,

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. (ESV)

Jesus offers a rest of soul, the kind of rest we get only if we come to Him. Rest is a gift for all of us who are

  • Exhausted with burdens
  • Exhausted with grief
  • Weary from our physical, mental and emotional labor
  • Loaded down with burdens
  • Overwhelmed with burdens
  • Overburdened with ceremony unto spiritual anxiety (wow!)
Photo by Nick Abrams on Unsplash.

Jesus invited the people to slow down and come to Him. Rest. Then, take My yoke and learn of me. There are pre-requisites to the rest of Jesus.

  • Come to Jesus. He will give you rest.
  • Take His yoke.
  • Learn meekness and how to be lowly in heart, like Him.
  • Then you will find rest for your souls.
  • His yoke is easy compared to the burdens you arrive with, and His burden is light.

We tend to glaze over Jesus’ appeal. He offers to give rest, but with conditions. Firstly, take His yoke. We come with our varied burdens, bound to them with yokes. Our burden, bigger and stronger than us, lead us in the yoke. Freedom in Christ, then, is not life without any yoke, but life with a new yoke. Selah.

Secondly, learn of Jesus for/because He is meek and lowly in heart. Jesus isn’t selling or recommending Himself. He hints at the character we need to yoke with Him. He tells us upfront that we meekness and humility will help us adjust to His yoke. This is a fundamental point to saving faith as well as to a living faith in Jesus. It’s His yoke. Learning of Him, of His meek and lowly heart, are meant to convert us to let Him lead instead of the burdens we bring to Him.

If we take Jesus’ yoke and learn meekness and humility, then thirdly, we will find rest. Find — discover, meet with (encounter), understand, see, end your search, to fall in with. Rest is both received and found, a gift and still a thing to be sought.

In his book Seasons of the Soul, Bruce Demarest shared the following quote.

A certain slowing down and spacing out of our ceaseless activities is a necessary condition of the deepening and enrichment of life. The spirit of Joy and the spirit of Hurry cannot live in the same house.

Emilie Griffin

Burdens lessen momentum, but we resilient human beings learn to manage life with weights. Once we accept Jesus’ conditions for His rest, then we learn to pace ourselves in this life. Hurry, Fury, Whirlwind paces compete with Joy and Soul Rest. According to Emilie Griffin, the activities of our lives do. not. stop. That means we have to learn to stop, lean inward, look inward, and reclaim our rest. We have to slow down before the burdens run us down, and render us utterly weak.

References:  Demarest, B. (2009). Seasons of the soul. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

Shaunta Scroggins is the lead contributor for The Bereans’ Commentary.

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