**A PDF of this free mini-Bible Study on Matthew 11:28-30 is available for download at the bottom of this reading.**
When my children were young, there was a systematic routine that never failed. Upon strapping them into their little car seats, complete with blankies, binkies, and toys, they would often squirm, arch, and let out an ear-piercing scream.
Sometimes the scream would turn into a full-on cry. But often in those moments, as they would kick and fuss, they would express their frustration of being forced to be restrained. Within a matter of minutes and sometimes seconds, all would be quiet and still. The crying and fussing gave way to peaceful looks and calm expressions as their little eyelids got heavy and they drifted off to sleep.
The problem all along was that they were tired. They were worn out. They needed to rest and when called to it, they fought it until they couldn’t fight it anymore.
How often do we fight this need within us to rest? What causes us to buck against letting go of the frustrations we feel-even if temporarily-and hang onto the burdens we don’t want to lay down?
Daily we strive and work to carry what is weighing us down. We whine about the heaviness and sigh about the injustice.
All the while, God is whispering His promises of rest and restoration, if we will come to Him.
Read Matthew 11:28-30
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.
Study and Understand
While there are a number of themes that can be explored within the simple words of Matthew 11:28-30, there are two that seem to stand out.
Within these verses, we see that
1. Rest is needed.
2. Rest restores.
In her book, Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life is Hard and Doubt is Rising, Nicki Koziarz says “Faith and strength come from a spirit of rest, which is being still long enough to see God move.”
We long to see God move, but often we can not see it, or we miss it because we refuse to rest.
Rest is needed
The Greek word for rest is “anapusis” and it means relaxation, calm, still, quietness, to pause.
Do you see the smaller word that we often use in English here? What is it?
In this passage in Matthew, we see Jesus calling listeners to “Come…rest”. He is inviting us into a place that will pause and allow us to take a breather. A place to lay down all we are carrying. A place to find our strength in Him alone.
What are some burdens you are carrying?
What about these burdens are calling you to take a break?
Jesus knew that the people he was talking with were weighed down. The current culture was especially pressing due to the laws and religious expectations of the time. There were many rules to follow and people got swept up in the performance of the rituals and need to have a “proper” appearance.
So when Jesus said “I will give you rest” in Matthew 11:28-30 it must have fallen like fresh snow on a vast meadow. He knew they were burdened and feeling misguided. He understood their frustrations, disappointments, and fatigue. He cared about their heart conditions even more than their physical appearances and societal expectations.
He was calling them to a better and different way. One that was not saddled by a yoke of hardship. One that they had never known before.
What does a yoke do?
At first glance, this passage may seem out of place when God calls us to rest. When we think of a yoke it can feel hard and heavy. I often think of farm animals, sweat, dirt, and the struggle to get beasts that are massive to move.
Yet this is often like what we struggle with. We are weighed down in the dirt and the grime of whatever we are facing. Whether it is life circumstances or consequences from choices we have made, somewhere that yoke becomes heavy, hard, and blistering. We are slogging in the dirt and sweat is pouring off of us. We feel alone and weak. In these moments we desire rest, peace, and joy.
The more we try to carry that burden alone, the more we are “yoked” to the difficulty, the harder it is to steer and eventually our bodies and souls cry out for much-needed relief.
How do you think the yoke Christ offers is different from the ones we face in the hardships of life?
God does not offer us something we already have. God’s offer to us is something completely different. When He says “take my yoke” God is telling us,
“My yoke is different. My yoke is free from oppression and burden. My yoke is full of love, grace, and redemption. Take this one up and be relieved of the burden”.
How does the realization that God’s yoke is different help you deal with the burdens you are carrying?
As you think about the implications of Jesus words in Matthew 11:28-30
Where in your life can you lay down your current burden and find rest?
What does laying this down at Jesus’ feet look and feel like in your life today?
Going forward, what promises can you claim about Christ’s character, that will allow you to rest?
Thank you for the promise in Matthew that you will give me rest. Help me to remember that I can take the burdens I am carrying and give them to you. Thank you that your yoke brings freedom and relief from the heaviness of my circumstances. Help me to trust you and remember your faithfulness, love, and mercy. Let me release my burdens and cease striving to carry them on my own. Let me accept your rest and be restored. Amen
In our current culture, rest is often hard to accept and practice. God consistently calls us to come to Him, whispering “I will give you rest”. When we look at the beauty of Matthew 11:28-30 we find that God is offering our weary hearts a place of peace and rest away from our burdens. This offer sustains and strengthens us in our difficulties. When we are yoked to Him, we find love and refreshment like never before.
“Be still and know, that I am God…” Psalm 46:10
Another Bible Study you may enjoy is God’s Love for Us: Isaiah 43:1-2.