I cannot accurately explain how difficult it is for me to finish up this two week study of Matthew 11:28-30. Whenever I am challenged to study a particular verse, chapter, or area of scripture I like to look at it from all perspectives. Not only do I charge myself with the origin of the verse but I want to know the author, the purpose, the surrounding circumstances, the intended audience and other possible translations. My favorite translation by far is the melodic style of the King James Version but for practicality's sake I often turn to The Living Bible, The Amplified Bible and the New King James Bible.
So first we'll look at the original King James and then I'd like to take you to the Living Bible which really took me into a whole new realm of worship.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
A mentor of mine, after noticing I had really been struggling in my emotions and even my faith, gave me these verses to meditate on in order to be shown a higher truth from the Lord in my struggle. I had already known the verse of course. It is a favorite of mine but I had never really studied it in such a manor. We have already discussed here what meditation is really about so we won't revisit it at this time. And because of space sake I won't go into detail about Matthew or the reasoning behind his writing however I do strongly encourage you to investigate these things on your own. But I will take you briefly to the beginning of this chapter, Matthew 11:2-3.
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
John the Baptist, whom Jesus later referred to as the greatest man ever born of a woman, was in prison. John, if you remember, was the very man who spent his days preaching about Jesus, the man who first recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and the man who baptized Jesus. He had greater faith in Jesus than anyone. Yet when John was caught in a tight place, when John was imprisoned, when John was weakened in his emotions, when John was tired, and lonely, and scared, even the man with greater faith than even the disciplines of Jesus himself - began to doubt. He sent his followers to ask of Jesus if he was really the Savior. But shouldn't John, of all people, have already known the answer to that question?
Does this make John a weak man, a faithless man, a sinful man? No, it makes him a man. When a human in pushed to his humanity it manifests itself in doubt about truth. I was in doubt about truth. But I found in Matthew that Jesus extended to me an invitation to lay my heavy burden on Him and He would give me the rest I so desperately needed.
Jesus said, "come unto me ALL," not some, not Jews, not saints, but ALL. He tells us to learn of Him, to understand His ways, to become one with Him, not in His weakness, but in His meekness. Jesus was a humble man. He knew who He was therefore He had no need to prove Himself, he needed only to be Himself. And if we accept this tender invitation from our Lord we need not prove ourselves either. We need only to live as Jesus lived. He tells us that we can find rest for our souls in Him. That, more than anything is the heart of this writing for me. Have you ever had a weary soul? It goes beyond being sleepy or tired. Physical rest cannot shake it off, a night's sleep cannot shake it off, a vacation cannot shake it off. A weary soul is exhaustion right to the heart of you. But, He tells us ALL to take His yoke, meaning His bondage, His oppression, and His burdens because they are light. He didn't say there would be no weight just that the weight would be lighter and easier to bear. In Jewish literature a 'yoke' represents the sum-total of obligations which, according to the teaching of the rabbis, a person must take upon himself." - William Hendriksen (Matthew, New Testament Commentary)
I have taken up way more space than was my intention but I'd like to quickly point you to a small portion of this verse in The Living Bible. Matthew 11:28 says:
Come to me and I will give you rest - all you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke.
After reading this translation I cried and cried and cried some more. The words seem to resonate in my spirit. Even now my eyes are beginning to tear. Why? The translation of this verse put me in mind of all the things I have worked so hard at, all the things that I have tried so hard to do, all the feats I have tried so hard to accomplish. Honestly brothers and sisters...I try so very hard. And it seems the harder you try to do something the deeper the pain if you fail. All I could see were my failures. I could not fathom that I had really done anything good or memorable for anyone including myself. I have worked so hard beneath a heavy yoke - But God. I have had so many sleepless nights - But God. I have cried so many tears - But God. I have been mistreated by so many people - But God!
Now I can honestly say that I am resting in the presence of God. I have shed my heavy burden and am learning to give it over to the One who shed His blood yo give me that right. I am learning more of His Word and learning more of His ways. I have truly found rest for my soul.
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. Please feel free to share your stories about this reading! You may comment here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org