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. (Matt 11:28-30 ESV)
Why are we laboring and burdened? Isn’t it because we are sinful and we are trying to earn a right standing before God? We are working and working but have no guarantee that we have done enough to make up for our sins. Ask most people on the street why they think they will go to heaven and they’ll say that they’ve been a pretty good person. Do they know for sure they will go to heaven when they die? They usually say they hope so; they have no assurance.
Jesus gives us rest from all that kind of labor and uncertainty. He gives us soul rest. That rest requires something from us but it isn’t a burden. Notice Jesus said that we need to take His yoke on ourselves. We won’t have rest as long as we are trying to do all the work to make up for our shortcomings. Jesus’ yoke is the cross where He was crucified and died to pay the penalty for our sins. His gentleness and lowliness of heart was demonstrated on the cross because He is God but gave up all His rights and privileges to become a person who would live a sinless life and then give that life up in place of our sinful life. When we take His yoke on us it means that we trust His death on the cross to pay for our sins.
But a yoke is also a device where two pull together. Make no mistake about it; this is not a yoke for two equals. This is a yoke designed for one who is much stronger and one who has no strength in himself. When the two are pulling in the same direction, the stronger one does all the work. When the weaker one pulls in his own selfish direction, it yields frustration, stumbling, awkwardness, and embarrassment. In other words, this is a yoke of submission to Jesus’ control of our lives. Taking His yoke on us means that we submit to His loving control of our lives.
We have rest for our souls when we turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We have rest because He has done all the work. Do you have a soul that is at rest? Do you have peace with God? If not, then admit to God that you are a sinner and that you believe He died for your sins. Ask for His forgiveness. Ask Jesus to take control of your life and turn from your sins.