Read Matthew 11:20-28, when Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (NKJV). What is the context of this statement? How does Jesus give us this rest?
Like all of us, Jesus never spoke without a context. In order to understand Him, we need to grasp the specific context surrounding a particular statement, especially if we want to avoid misunderstanding Jesus.
Matthew 11 marks a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. The statements denouncing important Galilean cities are the harshest heard so far in the Gospel. Jesus does not curry favors; He puts the finger where it hurts; He associates with the “wrong” people (Matthew 9:9-13); His claim to be able to forgive sins is scandalous in the eyes of the religious leaders (Matthew 9:1-8).
Indeed, Jesus speaks some powerfully condemning words to the people, even comparing them, unfavorably, to Sodom, viewed then (as today) as a place of implacable wickedness. “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:24).
Tensions are rising — and yet, in the midst of all of this, Jesus changes gear and offers true rest. He can do so because “all things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father” (Matthew 11:27). Jesus’ ability to give rest is based on His divinity and His oneness with the Father.
Before we can come to unload our burdens, we need to understand that we cannot carry them alone. In fact, most of us will not come unless we have recognized our true condition. Jesus’ invitation is need-based.
His statement in Matthew 11:28 begins with an imperative in the Greek original. “Come” is not optional; “come” represents the precondition of finding rest. “Come” means that we need to surrender control. In a time when we can conveniently control many things in our lives via our smartphones, coming to Jesus is not the natural direction. In fact, for most people, surrender is the toughest part of the Christian life.
We love to talk, and rightly so, about all that God does for us in Christ and how we cannot save ourselves and the like. All that is true. But in the end, we still have to make the conscious choice to “come” to Jesus, which means surrender to Him. Here is where the reality of free will becomes front and center in the Christian life.
|What burdens are you carrying? How can you learn to give them to Jesus and experience the rest He offers, and at so great a cost to Himself?|