Jesus gave a wonderful invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 “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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
First, there is the invitation to “Come to me.” Everyone must come to Jesus for the cleansing and forgiveness from their sins and for the salvation that only He offers. Speaking to the apostle Thomas in John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” We can only come to God the Father through Jesus Christ. He is the way. He has the truth. He gives eternal life. The Apostle Peter spoke about Jesus in Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” So, it is only appropriate for Jesus to invite sinners to come to Him, since there is nowhere else to go to find salvation from their sins.
The invitation is given to “all you who labor and are heavy laden.” An unforgiven sinner should feel the guilt and the burden of his sin. Before one commits sin, sin looks desirable. For example, fornication or adultery looks desirable to fulfil one’s fleshly desires. Or to tell a lie looks desirable to get out of a bad situation. If there wasn’t some allure to sin, no one would ever sin. But sin has bad consequences. The adulterer betrays his spouse and destroys his marriage. The liar cannot be trusted and is not respected. The drunkard wastes his money and causes pain to his family and loved ones. The drug addict destroys his body and his relationships with his family and may end up in prison. Whatever the sin may be, it has bad consequences in the life of the sinner. Sin becomes a heavy burden.
Sin is a hard slave master. Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Verses 19-21 “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” One sin leads to another and creates a sin cycle that cannot be broken by our own power. It also creates guilt because we are ashamed of what we do. It leads to spiritual death. Sin is again a heavy burden.
Sin separates the sinner from God. Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death”. There is no hope of eternal life for the sinner. Sin is again a heavy burden.
When one feels the burden of his sin, then he should welcome the invitation given by Jesus. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus offers rest from the servitude, the burden and the eternal consequences of sin. On the day of Pentecost, Peter convinced the people that they had crucified the Lord and Christ; they felt the burden of their sin. Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Jesus offers the remission of sins. Remission means a dismissal or release from the consequences of the sin; it means forgiveness. But Peter also told them to repent and be baptized. Repentance means a change of mind which results in a change of action. The forgiven sinner now takes on himself the yoke of Jesus and becomes His disciple.
Look again at what Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 “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.” When you take on the yoke of Jesus, it means that you submit to His authority and serve Him. The initial reaction might be “Why would I want to take on the yoke of Jesus? – that surely is going to be difficult.” But Jesus assures us that that is not the case. He says “I am gentle and lowly in heart.” In other words, “I am a gentle master and it will be easy for you to approach me.” Then He says “You will find rest for your souls.” You will be relieved from the burden of your sin; your sin will be forgiven; you will no longer be a slave to your sin; you will no longer have to suffer the guilt for what you have done; you will not have to suffer the eternal consequences of your sin; your soul will have rest. Finally, He says “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Yes, we take on the yoke of Jesus, but it is not difficult to follow Jesus. He loves us and cares for us. We can come to God in prayer through Jesus at any time and ask for His help. Compared to the burden of sin, the burden Jesus imposes on us is light indeed.
For those who have accepted the yoke of Jesus, you should feel the freedom from the burden of sin. I encourage you to appreciate that you have a master like Jesus who is gentle and lowly in heart. For those who have not come to Jesus, I encourage you to come to Him. He promises to relieve you from your heavy burden of sin.