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Verse of the Day

Matthew 11:28

Come to Me, all you 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.

Application

When these words of Jesus fell on Jewish ears, they understood because they were very heavy laden; not just from their lives of physical labor but also from their Jewish laws and regulations. Even though the laws God gave to Moses were precise, it was impossible to perceive every possible situation and whether the law allowed it. For example, when God said that no work should be done on the Sabbath, God never defined exactly what constituted work. The scribes and Rabbis felt that the laws needed to be interpreted to apply to every life circumstance.

They formulated 39 categories of work that is prohibited on the Sabbath. According to their interpretations, a Jew could not carry any object more than 4 cubits (7 ft) in public, nor peal a fruit, nor braid hair, nor kindle a fire. In fact, it was against Jewish law to walk further than 2,000 cubits (about a half mile) or even tie a knot in a string. All of these and more were defined as work. Can you imagine how weary these people were?

Despite the fact that we are not bound by all of the Jewish regulations, modern day Americans can relate to being weary and heavy laden. Regardless of all our modern inventions, we physically fill our every waking moment with work, business, entertainment, shopping, or constant communication (cell phones, internet, facebook, email, etc.). What about the psychological burdens we carry? We carry guilt and/or shame from bad choices, broken or difficult relationships, financial stress, job related challenges, the list goes on and on.

Jesus tells us to come to Him and He promises rest. What does coming to Jesus look like? It means we turn to Him with a humble heart - a heart that is reachable and teachable, and (this is the important part) willing to go where He goes and to DO what he says to do.

Picture this: You're very ill, at the end of your rope and you find a doctor that says, "I know what ails you and I have the cure. All you need to do is follow my instructions carefully and you will be cured." He asks you, "Do you believe me?" You say you do, but then after following his directions for 3 days, you tire of his instructions of daily excercise, sticking to the diet prescribed, and taking the medicine the doctor prescribed. The doctor returns, expecting you to be more improved. He asks you, "Didn't you believe that I have the knowledge to cure you? Did you not follow my instructions?" You reply that you did but then it became too hard and you went your own way.

With Jesus it is the same. Many of us hear his invitation and respond by coming. But then look at Jesus' next words..."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." Coming to Jesus is a two-part response. Opening your heart and then responding to Jesus by learning from Him. Learning involves obedience. Learning your abc's means memorizing them and then speaking them. Learning from Jesus means learning His ways and then doing them. This is what it means to be a "follower" of Jesus. When we follow Jesus, He promises rest for our souls - incredible rest and joy that the world can NEVER give.