“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” Matthew 11:29
Find Rest – What did the listeners hear when Jesus quoted this passage from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 6:16)? They knew it, of course, since they were schooled in the Scripture. All Jesus had to do was quote one part of the verse and the audience could fill in the rest. It’s the rest that matters, the part that we don’t see in this text from Matthew. So, do you know what Jesus didn’t say?
Jeremiah 6:16 is God speaking to the wayward house of Israel. It’s a very timely passage. All around, says the Lord, people are crying “Peace, peace.” But there is no peace. Why? Because the children have abandoned the good ways, the path of the Lord. They were not even ashamed to forsake God’s ways. They wanted to be relevant. But God says, “Walk in the old paths and you shall find rest.” Don’t walk in them, and you will find destruction!
Jesus cites just enough of this prophecy in Jeremiah to get the attention of the audience. But here’s the real barb. Jesus is telling His audience that if they want to see what it means to walk in the old ways, the good path, they need to look at Him! If you want to see what it means to live according to the commandments, look at Jesus. Do what He does and you will automatically be faithful to God.
In Jeremiah, the Hebrew words are va umitsu margoa from masa (to find or attain) and margoa (a state of refreshment and life). In other words, seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things will be added. Sound familiar? There is a reason why Jesus had an electrifying effect on His audience, but it’s not because He was presenting novel material. It was because He portrayed Himself as God. Jeremiah’s verse is God speaking. No one in the audience could possibly doubt that. Now Jesus proclaims that He is the pathway to the rest that God offers. Could anyone miss the point? Not a chance! Jesus takes the role of God by quoting just enough of Jeremiah to make it obvious to anyone who really listened.
If you want rest, that state of refreshment in life, then you will have to come to Jesus and follow His pathway of obedience. If you want to know the Father’s blessing and the Father’s delight, then you will have to take the yoke of Jesus upon you. In other words, if you want to know God, you have to look at Jesus.
If you can’t feel the electricity running through the crowd when Jesus said these words, then you must be dead (or sufficiently insulated so that nothing gets to you). Now you know one more reason why you can’t read the New Testament without the Old, and you can’t understand what Jesus is saying without understanding His view of Scripture. Jesus is not only the only way to the Father. He is also the only way to refreshing life.
Have you carried the load long enough to know this?
Topical Index: Rest