Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
“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.”
Heavy Laden with Sin
To labor is to do physical work. It is human effort. It is also to struggle, to strive, and to stress. And to be heavy laden means to be overloaded, to be burdened, to be weighed down.
Now, some can be weighed down with sin and with guilt, and some can be weighed down with trying in their own strength to not sin or to do what is right. Or some can be laboring with plotting and carrying out evil. And many people are “struggling” in the sense that they have not surrendered their hearts to the Lord but they are still habitually yielding to sin and to the flesh.
Then there are those who are trying to work out their own salvation via human effort, in their own strength, according to their own will and purpose, and according to their own stipulations which they place upon themselves which are not of God. And this includes the “cheap grace gospel” people who make up their own gospel to suit their own lifestyles of choice.
They are not free, though many think that they are. They think that if they merely prayed a prayer to “receive Christ” that they are good to go, that their sins are all forgiven (past, present, and future), and that heaven is now guaranteed them when they die, regardless of how they live their lives from that moment forward. But is that true? No! Why?
Jesus Christ didn’t give his life up for us on that cross so that we could continue living in sin guilt free. He didn’t die for us on that cross just so we could go on living in self-effort, trying to be good enough in our own flesh. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, in his power and strength.
When we believe in Jesus with genuine God-given faith, we are crucified with him in death to sin so that we would no longer live under the control of sin and the flesh. For our old self was put to death with him that sin might no longer reign in our mortal bodies, that we might no longer yield to the sinful passions of the flesh, but that we would be slaves of righteousness.
Take My Yoke Upon You
So, if we come to the Lord and we take his yoke upon us it means we are no longer operating in the flesh of the flesh and for the flesh, but we are now fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. We are no longer slaves of sin but we are now slaves of righteousness. We are no longer living for self, but we are now living for the Lord according to his will for our lives and in his power.
It means total surrender to God, denying self, taking up our cross daily (daily dying to sin and to self) and following (obeying) our Lord wherever he leads us and doing whatever he commands us to do in his power and strength, and not in human power and strength. We rest in him. We let him take control. We yield. And we let him work through us for his glory.
Taking his yoke upon us never means that we do nothing and that he does it all, for that would be contradictory to the whole concept of what a yoke means. Taking his yoke upon us means that he empowers us, and he leads us where to go, and he gives us the strength and the wisdom that we need to carry out his purposes for our lives, for he carries the weight of it all.
So, his yoke being easy does not mean that works are no longer involved, for we are saved of God to good works which God planned in advance that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10). But we walk in them (in practice) in his power and strength and not by our own human effort. And “easy” doesn’t mean we can now live however we want or that we don’t have to obey him.
It is only easy in the sense that Jesus is the one who paid the price for our freedom and he is the one filling us and empowering and strengthening us to do the will of God. Therefore, the burden is light for he is the one carrying the weight of it for us. All we have to do is yield to his control and allow him to do his work through us and then do what he says in his power.
Learn from Me
Many people, even after they have professed faith in Jesus Christ, are not learning from the Lord and from his word but they are still going on their own way, operating in their own flesh, while claiming Jesus as Savior and heaven as their eternal destiny. But it doesn’t work that way, for they are still carrying the weight of their burden of sin and they are not truly free.
The reason many people are going this path is first of all because they are listening to their own flesh instead of listening to the Lord, but also because they are following after the teachings and the philosophies of other humans rather than following after the teachings of the Scriptures in their fulness (the whole counsel of God). For other humans say what tickles their ears.
Many people who call themselves Christians never or hardly ever open up a Bible and actually read what it says one verse and one chapter and one book at a time, in context. But they rely on preachers, teachers, pastors, evangelists, book authors, writers of devotions, and Facebook memes or Twitter Tweets to tell them what the Scriptures teach.
Now it is good to listen to others who are teaching the Scriptures provided that what they are teaching is truth and not lies. But we should never rely on other humans to tell us what to believe or to the exclusion of actually studying the Scriptures for ourselves. And when we do listen to other humans, we are supposed to test what they say against the Scriptures, but to do so in the context in which they are written.
Now here is a summation of the gospel. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die with Christ to sin) and follow (obey) him (and his commands). For, if we hold on to (save) our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives for the sake of Jesus (if we die daily with him to sin and to self) then we have life eternal with him (Lu 9:23-26).
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope
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