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understanding rest

MATTHEW 11:25-30

You want to be perceived as a busy person. Whether you’re actually busy, just manage your time poorly, or have nothing going on, you want people to think you’re busy. At least this is what several studies on the busy culture of America have proven.

A Harvard study conducted several tests to attempt to understand the shift from Leisure as status (the ability to buy expensive things and take expensive vacations) to busyness as status. Participants were given a variety of tests which proved that leisure is no longer the status symbol in America. When asked which individuals held a higher status they chose the man who was constantly working over the one with a leisurely lifestyle. They believed a middle aged grocery shopper who needed time-saving grocery delivery was equal to one who could afford high end grocery stores. They also chose the individual described as needing a hands-free device over the one who didn’t.

To Americans, a busy person is moving towards success, not away from it. American culture places high value on competence and ambition, so people who describe themselves as busy believe they’re included in a sought after group. To support this powerful cultural phenomenon, Americans are afforded maximum freedom to pursue whatever they would like.

Americans have learned to be and appear busy. One of Jesus’ most famous questions speaks loudly in this conversation, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36). Americans (and most humans) are simply chasing meaning and trying to fill a God-sized void with everything but a meaningful relationship with God. Our schedules are full and our hearts are empty. Consequently, our minds are full to the brim. Add in high amounts of caffeine and our heads are spinning, just trying to slow things down. Let Jesus’ invitation help remove you from this way of life.

The great forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist expresses his doubts that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. Jesus then condemns the cities that witnessed the most miracles yet still didn’t have faith. Jesus turns to his audience to invite them to be different, to enter into a relationship with Him through faith.

God will harden the hearts of those who claim to be too self-righteous, prideful, or intelligent to trust in Jesus. He will reward those with child-like faith. Jesus reminds His audience that He is the way to the father. Perhaps with John the Baptist’s question still in mind, He wants them to understand that He is the long awaited, promised messiah.

Jesus calls on the crowd to humble themselves and lay down what they’ve been carrying. The weary or burdened and heavy-laden can come to Jesus and find rest. You also can take on Jesus’ yoke and learn from Him. He is the stronger, more experienced Ox. He can carry the load, but He also understands the master’s voice. He can lead and move you in the right direction. His yoke is easy and His burden is light because He will help carry it. You can find rest for your souls.

Later in Matthew Jesus describes the religious leaders of the day as placing heavy loads that are hard to carry on the shoulders of the people. This heavy weight came through their teachings on keeping the law. Their misunderstanding of the purpose of the law and Jesus’ fulfillment of the law led them to teach the people to try to keep the law to be in right standing with God. Only faith in Jesus leads to right standing with God. Only walking with Jesus leads to rest.

We don’t understand God’s design for rest. Even believers continue to carry the yoke themselves, exhausted and broken. If you keep reading, Jesus addresses the misunderstandings of the Sabbath. Elsewhere Jesus makes clear that the sabbath was intended for the wellbeing of man, not as another law to support legalism (Mark 2:27-28).

In Genesis two, God rested on the seventh day following a six day creation. He didn’t rest because He is capable of being tired, He rested to establish a patter for man to follow, to establish a sabbath. This sabbath (day at the end of the week) was to be remembered and kept holy. This did become a law to keep, but in His fulfillment of the law, Jesus did not undo the concept of sabbath.

The Hebrew word for sabbath means to cease or stop. God intends for His children to have a regular, planned stop. We need to cease from everything to ensure that we seek Him, to guarantee that we’re still walking with Him. You need a weekly stop to worship God and gather with His children. You need a daily stop, to seek God in His word and prayer. In this stop you will find rest, but not just physical and mental rest, rest for your soul. You will enable yourself to walk side by side with the experienced Ox, allowing Him to carry the weight.


Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


  1. What am I seeking for fulfillment in this season of life?

  2. What am I pridefully carrying by myself that I need to give to Jesus?

  3. How can I rearrange my schedule to prioritize a regular stop to spend time with God?

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