I’ve had many seasons of anxiety, depression, and stress. Through each of those seasons, I have found myself trying to fight the urge to harden myself towards God. Perhaps you’re in a similar boat– fighting the temptation of turning away from God because it all seems too overwhelming. My husband has always been amazing in pointing to toward the direction of rest for my soul. I find rest in Jesus. The book of Matthew chapter 11 shows that He is really the only way to find it.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
The Source of the Problem in Matthew 11: Mosaic Laws
In chapters leading up to Matthew 11, the pharasies were critisizing Jesus for breaking many of the mosaic laws. In the scriptures we will be referencing today he was healing a womans son from deamon possession on the sabbath. The pharasies were in up roar about this. You see, man created so many laws around the sabbath to prohibit people from doing anything on the sabath when the only true reason for it was for God’s people to rest. They focused more on obeying the law rather than understanding the reason for the law.
Many mosaic laws were like this, which is one reason Jesus was sent; to correct the direction of God’s people.
There were over 600 mosaic laws by the time Jesus came. Every Jew was expected to follow the laws or be met with terrible consequences. Can you imagine trying to live up to this? Trying to live each day with out sinning or making a mistake? Can you imagine not having a hope of redemption? In those days, you’d get stoned to death for being caught in sin. Possibly, you do understand to a degree what this is like: having such a heavy burden.
A Modern Day Mosaic Law
Today, we have many societal “rules”. Often, we are “stoned” by strangers and loved ones if they catch us making a mistake, or not living up to their expectations. It’s sad to see my loved ones who don’t have a strong relationship with the Lord, facing the same hopelessness; dealing with the stones they are casting upon themselves.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavey 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.” Matthew 11:28-29
Trying to live up to unrealistic rules and expectations cause us:
- anxiety thinking of all the things that we need to fix.
- depression thinking of all the things we failed to do.
- stress thinking of all the things we will so desperately try to prevent from happening again.
Our hearts and minds become so exhausted from trying to figure out how to correct the mistakes and failures. We get stuck in the cycle of trying to do everything, be everything, and fix everything. But that’s too much of a burden for us to carry. It becomes our yoke, chaining us in one place and preventing us from moving freely in the direction God wants for us.
A Call to Repentance
“20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. 21 “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22 I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.Matthew 11:20-24
23 “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”
Jesus has visited many towns by this point in his ministry. He had performed quite a few miracles and helped many people. Yet, despite seeing theses miracles—despite seeing God in the flesh, these people stayed in their sin. They stayed chained to the law. They stayed in the grips of the men whom created these laws that had actually separated them from God. These people were choosing the 600+ mosaic laws rather than learning from Jesus and following him.
“Take my yoke upon you, My burden is light” is actually Jesus calling them to repent. He goes on to say why we should repent.
“…for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Unlike the law, Jesus is gentle and humble. He doesn’t force anything on us and he offers a route to redemption. He’s easy to follow, and learn from. After all, his perfects love provides us grace and mercy alongside justice. Repentance opens the door to accept this grace and mercy.
God’s Beautiful Mercy
How beautiful is it that Jesus sees our pride and ignorance, and still shows mercy? We get so caught up in going back to our old ways because we are losing control. For some reason, our subconscious thinks it’s the best way to gain back control. We start scrambling to put the pieces back and seeking the trends and the people who seem to have it all together. We try to somehow find a way to make things all okay again–to be able to escape the over bearing weight of this world on our shoulders when the only one who can bare this weight is Jesus.
He could’ve left things the way they were. He couldve just done away with humanity and gave up on us, but he didn’t because he loves us. “For God Loved the world so much he gave his only begotten son, so that we may have eternal life,” John 3:16. God gave us a path to salvation in jesus through the stepping stone of repentance. Taking up His yoke is turning away from seeking the approval of man, which is a sin so many of us struggle with.
What Can We Do?
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus beckons the people, even us, to turn away from this cycle of following man made laws and rules that distract us from our creator and what He’s doing in our lives. He literally tells us to learn from him because we will find rest for our souls.
Remember how I told you that the people were under much bondage from the mosaic laws? Well, this is what He says we will find rest from. Our souls find rest in Him from the pressure and bondage of the church, society and even ourselves. We can learn from him because the true laws bring us closer to him.God designed the sabbath to give us rest and bring us into communion with Him. However, the laws of man started prohibiting things like healing and helping those in need, which kept many people from rest and communion.
So learn his ways and ask for understanding of the true reasons for His laws and commandments.
Let go of the Distractions
Satan aims to steel, kill, and destroy. His tactics on the battlefield are to steel your peace, kill your purpose and motivation, and destroy your salvation. One way He does this is by filling your mind with as many lies as possible to distract you from the battle at hand. Don’t let Satan and his tactics take your focus off Jesus. Don’t let the expectations and “rules” of society distract you from what you really should be doing for Christ.
Find rest in Him by taking up his yoke. The burden he carries is light because He doesn’t follow the many silly rules of man. His burden doesn’t lead to chains it leads to freedom. Find rest for your tired soul in the one who created you, Jesus.
If this has given you encouragment please let me know in a comment below and share this article to encourage others.
Please see my other blog post about Finding the Key to Confidence do learn how to over come insecurity.