Karen was our waitress at the restaurant where a young Christian and I had a weekly breakfast Bible study. She was always efficient, helpful and friendly.
As we came to know her better, she opened up a little about her life. She told us how she had put her trust in the Lord. But, week by week, I sensed a heaviness in her heart. It seemed she was still trying to cut her own swath, and kept finding disappointing dead ends in life.
One week, when I was paying the bill, I shared with her the fact that Jesus spoke about two kinds of rest for our hearts.
What is rest? The first time we read about this in the Bible, God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. Obviously He wasn’t exhausted! This rest is “satisfaction in a completed work.”
So when Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28), this is rest as a gift, the gift of salvation described by the apostle Paul: “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Simply put, God is satisfied with Christ’s finished work when He died for our sins, and when we are satisfied with Him as our Savior too, we receive this rest as a gift.
But the Lord Jesus continues: “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” (Mt 11:29-30).
This is something different — finding rest as a daily discovery. We not only need Christ to be our Savior from the penalty of sin; we also need Him to be our daily Guide so we can live the abundant life He promised.
How do we find that daily rest? He offers us His yoke. Now we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that He’s talking about an animal yoke. In Jewish history, the yoke was the right of a king to rule. Here’s an example.
When King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam was asked by his subjects to go a little easier on them, decreasing the tax burden: “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us” (1 Ki 12:4). Instead, he replied, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke” (v 14).
Sounds like 21st century politics, doesn’t it! But the point is this. Jesus is asking us to submit to His leadership, and explains that He won’t be hard on us. He is no tyrant. All who receive His salvation as a gift can rest as to their eternal destiny; all accepting His yoke enjoy rest each day as He graciously guides us through life’s challenges.
A week after our talk, Karen floated up to our table. Her face was radiant. She had accepted Christ’s direction and was finding rest in her daily life. “And,” she told us breathlessly, “my boss has also trusted the Lord!” She had been watching Karen, waiting to see the reality which Karen professed. She saw it and believed. This is really living!
Jabe Nicholson of Starkville has a 45-year career in publishing. He and his wife have seven children and soon to be 18 grandkids. Reach him at [email protected] or visit www.uplook.tv.