My brothers and sisters, we live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with hurry.
A Tahoma, Washington newspaper carried the story of Tattoo, the basset hound dog. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice. A motorcycle officer notices a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He commented that the poor basset hound was, “picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could.” He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued. But not before the dog had reached a top speed of 25 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times.
Too many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around & feeling dragged through life.
Time magazine noted that back in the 60’s, expert testimony was given to a Senate sub-committee on time management. They predicted that advances in technology would radically change how many hours a week people worked. They forecasted that the average American would be working 22 hours a week within 20 years. “The great challenge,” the experts said, “would be figuring out what to do with all the excess time.” Over 40 years later, after major advances in technology – how many of us are wondering what to do with all the excess time on our hands?
Our world has become the world of the Red Queen of Alice and Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”
How many of us feel like that? Let’s take a group quiz to see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:
I’m ready to throw in the…
I’m at the end of my…
I’m just a bundle of…
My life is falling…
I’m at my wit’s…
I feel like resigning from the human…
Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. And just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat.
We need to learn how to experience rest. If all we needed was physical rest we can always take a nap. If we needed only emotional rest, we can always take a vacation. But where can we find spiritual rest? Where can we find spiritual rest for our souls? How can we obtain relief regarding the deepest issues of life at the deepest level of our hearts?
This passage of scripture contains 3 commands from Jesus that leads to rest:
First, we will experience rest for our souls as we obey Jesus’ command of
1. COME TO ME “Come…all…and I will give…”
Jesus regularly invited people to come to Him to meet their needs.
Now notice what Jesus did NOT say, “Come to church to find rest”
Going to McDonalds does not make us a hamburger. Going into a garage doesn’t make us a car. Going to church does not make us a Christian.
Christianity begins with meeting Christ through a personal invitation.
Gathering information about Jesus does not make us a Christian. Joining a group does not make us a Christian. Having Christian parents doesn’t make us a Christian.
We become a Christian, by making a choice, in a moment of time, to answer His invitation. It is an invitation to turn from our own ways and come to Him. And we will find that He’s been waiting for us all along. Have we done that? Have we looked to a time when we decided to answer His call to come?
We say, “but my life is really a mess, I don’t think I am ready to come." HIS INVITATION: Come one, come all, and come as you are!
**If we come to Him and we’re hungry: He satisfies our hungry soul.
In John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”.
**If we come to Him and we’re thirsty: He will satisfy our soul’s thirst.
In John 7:37-38 we find these words, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ’From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”
**If we want eternal life: We can come to Him for eternal life.
In John 5:39-40 Jesus said these words to the scribes and Pharisees, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life’.
The search to satisfy these needs on our own leads down many empty roads. The tiresome search to satisfy the soul, and coming up empty is what Jesus is speaking to. He has a gift to give!!!
He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
SPIRITUAL REST FOR OUR SOULS: “Come to me & I will give you rest”
Rest from What?
1. First, Rest for those who labor: (gr. Labor to the point of exhaustion, toil) SELF EFFORT
He is not speaking to the working class laborer, but to sincere, conscientious people who are trying to balance the scales of good deeds vs. bad deeds to be accepted by God. We never know how our account is balanced at any time.
Human effort falls far short of the standard God requires. The cross is the place of exchange where what I am is placed on Him and what He is, is given to me. My bad deeds are removed and placed on Him. I rest on His perfect deeds credited to my account.
2. Secondly, Rest for those who are heavy laden: (gr. To load up, overburden) BURDENED
Those who stagger under the heavy weight and burden of sin.
Living for ourselves, for possessions, for prominence and pleasure is a burden.
Nicolas Cage: “I wonder if there is a hole in the soul of my generation. We’ve inherited the American dream, but where do we take it?”
Harrison Ford: The actor whose movies have grossed over 2 billion dollars said, “you only want what you ain’t got.” What ain’t he got? “Peace!” was his answer!
In Jesus Christ the full penalty has already been paid. We can begin life anew and have the page wiped clean. God did not send Jesus to rub our sins in, but to rub them out. He bore the guilt and paid the penalty, there is nothing left to pay. Come and rest in what Jesus has done for you and me.
The sense of relief of burden is real for all who’ve come to Christ. The Bible calls it “peace with God.” We can come to Him right now, by faith! Not Tomorrow, But Today
Secondly, we will experience rest for our souls as we obey Jesus’ command of
2. TAKE MY YOKE (upon you)
YOKE: “a type of harness that connects a pair of oxen.”
A pair of connected oxen was typically called a yoke of oxen.
Used metaphorically to refer to submission to a teacher
In NT times the phrase, “to take the yoke of” was used by rabbi’s to refer to “becoming a submitted pupil of a teacher”.
Used 6 times in the NT, the word has two dominant figurative ideas.
1. The yoke of rules and religion. MANS YOKE
Acts 15:7-11 spells out the yoke of following rules and religious system to be accepted by God. This is the way most people are familiar with the idea of relating to God – through rules and religion. This is not the “my yoke” that Jesus speaks of.
2. The yoke of relationship. JESUS YOKE
Jesus said that His yoke is easy “well fitted.” It fits the need.
Rules and religion don’t fit the need for personal relationship.
His yoke is easy compared to man made religious yokes.
His burden is light compared to the burden of human effort.
Jesus’ sign outside his carpenter shop says, “My yokes fit well!”
JESUS SAID "MY YOKE:" Jesus commands that we take up HIS yoke to find rest.
There is no rest in rules and religion, but only in a personal relationship with God based on the finished work of Jesus.
Which yoke have you been under? Jesus’ or man’s? We access all that God has for us through our choices.
My brothers and sisters, Yoke Pictures Three Things:
First, Connection “Be with Me.” Yokes are made for two, not one. We were not meant to go through life living apart from God. His yoke fits well and is lighter than the one we’ve been pulling by ourselves. Be connected to Jesus!
Secondly, yoke pictures Direction “Follow Me.” The idea of a yoke pictures the forward motion of two connected together. We cannot be yoked to Jesus and go our own way anymore. We follow Him and His direction for our life. Follow Jesus!
Thirdly, yoke pictures Cooperation “Work with Me.” To be yoked together means that we cooperate with His work. Before we come to Him, we were living for this side of eternity. Now we are joined to His work and discover that our lives can make an eternal impact.
We experience these pictures when we obey: COME and TAKE His yoke.
Rest is the result of obedience! We rest in Him!
J.H. Jowett summarized the thought this way…
The fatal mistake for the believer is to seek to bear life’s load in a single collar. God never intended man to carry his burden alone. Christ therefore deals only in yokes! A yoke is a neck harness for two, and the Lord Himself pleads to be One of the two. He wants to share the labor of any task in our lives. The secret of peace and victory in the Christian life is found in putting off the taxing collar of “self” and accepting the Master’s relaxing “yoke.”
Thirdly, we will experience rest for our souls as we obey Jesus’ command of
3. LEARN FROM ME
His third command is to learn from Him. Are we open to learn?
We come, take up His yoke, the process of learning begins.
There are several things we begin to learn from him:
Verse 29 says, “Take my yoke and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, some translations say gentle and humble in heart.”
**Gentleness: Strength under control
Religious people can be cold and harsh, but not Jesus. His gentleness draws us to Him with our cares and concerns. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone you can pour out your deepest thoughts, a gentle person who has the strength to help? We need to learn that He is gentle enough to be with us in our cares and concerns of life.
In 1st Peter 5:7 we find these words “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you.
The second thing we can learn from him is:
Again, religious people can be arrogant and rude toward us.
Pride and self-centeredness is descriptive of the Devil. The very things that turn people off from the church are the very opposite of what Jesus is really like. Hurting, lost and weary people were drawn to Jesus because He cared for them and met their needs.
Finally verse 29-30, “And ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
THE REST JESUS GIVES IS A (FREE GIFT): Once and for all we rest in His work on the cross for us to make us acceptable to God. In Him, we find real relief for the labor and burden of our lives.
There is no need to fear what Jesus might do in our life. He is both gentle and humble. The more we learn that about Him, the more we will find our rest in Him.
Let me tell you how it works, and what a marvelous picture it is:
A farmer when he wanted to break in a new ox, would yoke the young ox along with the mature experience ox. He would yoke them together, because he wanted to train the young ox how to be efficient and effective in pulling the plow, like the old ox had learn to do, over many years of during just that. So he would yoke them together. But he would always harness the yokes in such a way that the burden of the work fell on the big experience ox, while the little ox went along for the ride. He was in harness with the big ox, so he went in the same direction, but because of the size of the big ox he didn’t bear the same burden. The burden was bore by the big ox, while the little ox learn the process of getting the job done.
Jesus says, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,
I’m the big ox!
What Jesus is saying is, I already know how to plow this field
I already know how to live a successful life
I already know how to make a marriage work
I already know how to raise children
I already know how to have peace of mind
I already know how to live a consistent Christian life
I already know how to beat the devil.
I already know how to overcome sin
So since you don’t know, why don’t you just hook up along side of me, and let me pull you along.
That’s what Jesus is saying, He is saying enter yoke with me, learn of me.
Because I’m gentle and humble in heart.
So my brothers and sisters,
Does your life feel like the ox whose pulling himself to death.
Rest for the Stressed comes from obedience to Jesus’ commands. COME to Me, TAKE My yoke upon you, LEARN from Me.
Hebrews 4: 11 says this: So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.