The well-known and oft quoted passage in Matthew 11:28-30 is one I treasure. I’m fond of Eugene Peterson’s version of it in The Message, still the one I grew up with is my favorite.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [a]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
Jesus invites us to come to him for rest. He knows our weariness and offers us a more natural way of learning, transformation, and mission. How does this offer of rest fit into the purpose and our mission as the church?
In his daily meditations book called Listen to Your Life, Frederick Buechner tells a story that provokes my thoughts about Jesus’ offer of rest and our mission.
“My friend’s broken voice on the phone was a voice calling me out into that dangerous world not simply for his sake, as I suddenly saw it, but also for my sake. The shattering revelation of that moment was that true peace, the high and bidding peace that passeth all understanding, is to be had not in retreat from the battle, but only in the thick of the battle” (Buechner 22)
The Rest He Offers
Jesus is not inviting us into a rest of leisure and empty pleasure. The rest he offers is rest from our relentless search for purpose in the accumulation of material possessions, wealth, youth, beauty, status, and power. He offers us rest from futility and despair. He offers respite from aimless searching for our identities in anything and anyone besides the One who created us.
As we follow him and learn from him…as we are being made whole, we are sent out to offer the invitation to others. We do this in word and deed, by the way we live our daily ordinary lives. We work while he works in us. We cooperate with God now to restore all things on earth as it is in heaven. He’s given us the authority to do so. When we are weary of the work and the pain and sorrow we see and experience, our rest is in him, for he is with us to the very end of the age.