"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:28-29).
In the above passage, Jesus issues a call to sincere people who are burdened down with religious duty. He is speaking to people who are weary of trying to fulfill the multitude of miniscule religious rules and regulations that have been imposed on them.
You see, the rabbis had identified 613 commands in the Torah; 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands. The Pharisees of Jesus day believed that if all Israel kept all 613 commandments for just one day, there would be a great shift and the Messiah would come and restore the kingdom to Israel.
The Pharisees, therefore, called upon the Israelites to take upon themselves "the yoke of the law." This was a commitment to do their level best to keep all 613 commandments. The Pharisees were very zealous in their efforts to get people to make this commitment. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 23:15 when He said,
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven against men. For you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who are entering to go in" (Matt. 23:13).
Jesus' response was to call the people away from man-made religious traditions into a personal, committed relationship with Himself. "Come to Me," He invited the multitudes. "... Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me" (Matt. 11:28a-29a).
In being yoked together with Jesus in such a committed relationship, the promise is, "you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29b). The Greek literally reads, "I will rest you." In other words, He will actively rest you, even as a mother rocks and actively "rests" her infant child.
There is rest for your soul today. Yoke up with Jesus. Do you hear Him calling?
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher with a vision to see America reconnect with its Christian heritage as a nation birthed in prayer and spiritual awakening. He is also a director of God's Word to Women and the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame, ministries that are lifting the status of women around the world and helping them fulfull their call and purpose in life.
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