We read Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is one of my favorite verses of scripture because it depicts the call to salvation, a demonstration of what saving faith looks like, and the promise of rest that Jesus intends for us to live with! So, let’s unpack it:
First, Jesus issues a command: “Come.” It’s a simple term, but can mean so much. How do we come to him? Well, we can’t come to him with the idea that he will just be the cherry on top of our lives. That’s not coming to him. We don’t just need Jesus as another component to our lives to just complete our lives, we have to come to him with the intent of making him the center of our life, laying everything down at the feet of the cross. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declared; “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Jesus issues the command to “Come” to those who labor and are heavy laden. The Pharisee’s at the time were imposing so many religious laws, acts, and rituals on the Jew’s at the time, that if they made even a small error they were counted unrighteous and unfit for heaven. Jesus is saying, “Are you tired of working for salvation? Are you tired of worrying if you’ve done enough to get into heaven? Are you tired of trying hard to be good enough to please my Father? Good, you should be, because you can’t please him…on your own. ” If anyone at the time felt like this, they were personally encouraged by Jesus to come to him. Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who is weary and heavy-laden despairs of his own ability to please God. He comes to the end of his own resources and turns to Christ. Desperation is a part of true salvation, because a person does not come to Christ as long as he has confidence in himself. To repent is to make a 180-degree turn from the burden of the old life to the restfulness of the new. If a person does this, Jesus promises them rest.
So, what is the rest that Jesus promises?
The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. If we back up to verse 11, Jesus says that there is no one on earth who is greater than John the Baptist, yet the person who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he! Guys, we have such an amazing glory awaiting us in heaven. Jesus promises us that even the person who is the least in heaven, is considered much greater than the best person who lived on earth! And if we come to Jesus, he promises that this glory awaits us! At the end of our lives, if we are in the faith, we are not rewarded for what we have done, we are rewarded for what Christ has done! And how much glory and praise does He deserve!?- So much that there cannot even be a time frame on it, because it would not be enough-it has to be eternal!
Third, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
My friends, you are invited to this eternal rest. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
He promises rest, and so much more. It’s up to you to go to him!