KEY TEXT: Matthew 11:27-30 "All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 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."
KEY THOT: Jesus has said in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me." This is repeated in today's text as: "no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (v.27). To know the Father is to find rest for our souls. That is why Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (v.28). To know Jesus is to know the Father, for only through Jesus that we can understand Abba's love.
Jesus invites all who "labor and are heavy laden" (NIV: "weary and burdened") to come to him so that he can give them rest. Notice the "rest" that Jesus promises is not "cessation from work" but cessation from our work so that we can take on His yoke. (A yoke is a harness placed on the oxen to plough the fields in farming.) Jesus invites us to "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."
So the key to "rest for your souls" is to exchange our yoke for His yoke. To accept Jesus' yoke requires us to adopt two important attitudes: submission (ESV/NIV: "gentle"; KJV: "meek") and humility (ESV: "lowly"; NIV: "humble", i.e. selfless). Without these two attributes, we will reject Jesus' yoke placed upon our shoulders. Jesus' yoke requires us to be totally submitted to do only God's will and do it for God's glory, not for our own glory.
Jesus' work is not equal to church work. Sometime, as believers Jesus' yoke means staying in the marketplace. It's not the marketplace that makes our work "secular"; it's our attitudes. If we are totally submitted to God and surrendered to His will, then any work can be Jesus' work. As someone has once wrote: "Holiness does not consist in changing jobs, but in doing for God what you've always been doing for yourself."
If we are into a particular vocation that Jesus has called us to, so that we can exalt His name and be a blessing to others, then that work is as much Jesus' yoke as says "full-time" ministry. Being in "full-time" ministry does not mean that we are doing Jesus' work. If full-time ministry causes stress, then we may be simply doing it our way and for our own glory rather than Jesus' way to exalt His name alone. We can only be yoked to Jesus if we adopt his twin attitudes of submission (meekness) and humility (lowly). Self-will and pride in any work will lead to stress, not rest.
And we know that we have taken Jesus' yoke when we experience "rest for your souls", not stress.
Abba-Father, what a privilege and joy it is to be able to take on Your yoke upon us. Instead of doing our work for You, help us to submit and surrender ourselves totally to You so that we may be doing Your work for You. Amen.