by Matt Schroeder
We all work and we all labor.
Maybe some of us don’t work standard 8 to 5 jobs every day, but we all labor.
Some of us work for an oil and gas company 8 to 5. Some of us work ALL DAY parenting children. Some of us labor at keeping our Twitter follower count up. Some of us work to keep our body image pristine. Some of us labor to keep all our relationships in order. Some of us labor to make sure our kids don’t “go off the deep end.”
We all invest time, energy, effort, and our hearts into things we do.
The passage in Matthew 11, when Jesus calls us to come and rest, is a beautiful passage that brings peace and freedom!
Jesus says, “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” (verses 28-30).
I think sometimes, not all the time, people have a tendency to use this verse to mean Jesus wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on him and simply rest. That is no doubt a true statement. In 1 Peter 5, Peter says, “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Jesus truly does care about the things we walk through every day.
The point I want to make is not to say the typical application of the Matthew passage is incorrect, because I believe it is correct, but to take it deeper and dig into the “why” it is correct that we cast our anxieties on him and rest from our labor.
The context of the Matthew passage is Jesus addressing unrepentant cities and the Pharisaical teaching and lifestyle of many. Jesus says just before his call to come and rest, “thank you, Lord, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and have revealed them to little children” (vs. 25).
When Jesus jumps into calling people to come to him and rest from their work and labor, he’s not calling them to stop their physical labor. He’s calling them to rest from believing their good works and labor are earning them meaning, significance, importance, and most importantly, salvation.
The call is not to stop working and laboring, rather, the call is to stop believing in your works to save you.
Jesus call to come and rest from their labors was a hard pill to swallow. The laws established in the Old Testament so many years ago would have understandably caused many of them to be performance driven, avoiding certain sins and pursing other pious duties.
Jesus comes and calls them to trust in Him and not those duties they obey or don’t obey.
And the beauty of what Jesus is saying is that the gospel is not just a one-stop hit for us all. It is not, get saved through Jesus, then go work to keep God’s love. He calls us to “learn” from him (vs. 28). Watch the way I live my life. Watch how I do not walk around constantly seeking others approval of me.
So, that glorious gospel has beautiful implications for you and me every single day.
Are you a mother of 5, working non-stop to keep everyone fed, clothed, and out of trouble? You’re doing awesome! Don’t’ rest from your job of being a mother. Rest from feeling your worth and value comes from how you do at mothering and how those kids turn out.
Are you in ministry, speaking multiple times, and leading many to Christ? Don’t rest from your ministry. Rest from that ministry defining your importance, worth, and significance before God.
Are you trying to get 10K followers on Twitter? Cool! Go for it! Don’t rest from it. Rest from your identity being shaken if you only end up with 10 followers.
Do you work out and run every day? Awesome! Don’t rest from working out. Rest from feeling like you’ve got to have the right body image in order to be liked by that guy or that girl.
Are you in college, studying to become a doctor? Way to go! Study hard! Don’t’ rest from working hard. Rest from seeking the approval of your parents through getting good grades.
Jesus isn’t anti-work and anti-laboring. He’s just anti you finding your worth and value in that laboring.
Because of Jesus, you and I get to be free from the labor of searching for meaning, acceptance, approval, and love. It’s in full abundance in Christ.
The call is to rest.
Is your heart at rest today?