The Kind of Rest Jesus Offers

“Come to me, all 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.” –Jesus, Matt 11:28-30

Is this the same Jesus who said things like this just a chapter earlier?

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:34-38).

Jesus promises us rest, an easy burden. But it’s the kind of rest that’s “not peace but a sword”—the kind of rest that severs you from people you love. It’s a rest that’s the fight of your life: a rest where you can’t buy all the things you want, a rest where babies and young people die. It is, in other words, a very real rest—a rest that takes place in the real world with all its real problems and brokenness.

So how is that rest? How is it an easy burden? Because it’s a rest from trying to bear the burden ourselves, from trying to understand/overcome/fix everything—or fix ourselves, for that matter. It’s a rest from depending on our own sorry effort, our own sorry record. A rest from having all the answers. A rest that knows this is not all there is. And since it’s not, we can bear it a little while longer. A few decades of the sword—mixed with “joy unspeakable”—and then we enter the rest remaining, where the yoke will only be easy, the burden only light.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus! The strife shall not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.

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