Two Kinds of Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Come is a Command

This familiar passage opens with a command. We often read it as if Jesus has his loving arms extended offering a gentle invitation to come and find rest with him. But this ‘come’ is a command. Come to me! Come now! ‘Come’ is one of the earliest and most difficult commands to teach little crawling babies (and little puppies too!). ‘Come!’ requires giving up something we thought we wanted, something we were looking for or even chasing after. ‘Come!’ requires a voluntary turn-around we often resist making.

Many times, ‘Come!’ requires the one commanding it to go and literally retrieve the one resisting it- leading them to the place called for. In this case, the place called for is a place of rest. It’s a wonder we resist it so often.

Tired from Within- and With-out

Jesus commands the weary and burdened to come to him. ‘Weary’ means tired from within, exhausted from extended labor and effort. Weary is just flat worn out. Out of gas. Beat.

‘Burdened’ (or some translations say, ‘heavy laden’) means weighed down by a big load- tired from ‘with-out.’ It is a term used in describing ships carrying large amounts of cargo. I can relate to the feeling of carrying large amounts of cargo, weighed down by so many physical responsibilities and even more so, by emotional stress and anxiety. ‘Burdened’ is feeling like I’m sinking under that load. Barely able to keep my head above water. Going under.

Rest #1- A Temporary Rest

 Jesus’ command to come comes with a promise- that He will give us rest. The Bible dictionary says this ‘rest’ means, “to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.” It is a rest to recover- a refreshment or re-fueling- that will allow us to collect our strength and continue on our journey. Picture the neighborhood convenience store- where we stop to refill our gas tank and often grab a drink and snack- so we can go on about our business for the day. This rest is a temporary rest, and one God created our bodies to desperately need and depend on for daily sustenance and perseverance.

Rest #2- An Eternal Rest

 The rest Jesus offers us here in Matthew 11 is a different kind of rest. There is a rest He offers by extending believers the invitation to enter eternal rest through His death and resurrection. Our eternal rest is found in a person and a place, in Christ Himself and in Heaven where we will one day rest forever in His presence. One commentary describes this rest as “the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells and of which He has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of this life on earth are ended.”

Two rests: One that refreshes and re-fuels us so we may continue on in the toils and trials of this life. And one that comes after all the toils and trials are ended.  

 We need both rests. One to come into as many times each day as needed. One to look forward to. One gives strength for today. One gives hope for tomorrow.

Because of that day, I can face this day.

Because of that day, I can endure this day and finish this day, rest again and face tomorrow.

He commands us to come, weary and burdened, and find desperately needed rest for our bodies and our souls. Will we heed His command? (Or will we run ourselves all the way to empty, stranded on the side of the road, useless to ourselves and our families?)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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