“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
All are Invited
Who is invited to receive this rest? “All ye that labour.” The good news is to be preached to “every creature” under heaven (Mark 16:15), and in this particular passage it is addressed to all who are laboring and heavy laden.
Are You Laboring for Salvation?
There are many who believe that if they obey the precepts of God’s law they will be saved, and they are laboring to do them. They have been told that the performance of certain rites and ceremonies will also save them, and they are performing those with great care. The yoke is on their shoulders, and they are laboring diligently. Some are laboring in prayer, some are laboring in sacraments, others in self-denials. They are awakened to feel the need of salvation, and they are eager to save themselves. It is to these laboring souls the Savior addresses His loving words. In effect He tells them, “This is not the way to rest. Your self-imposed labors will end in disappointment. Cease your wearisome exertions and believe in Me, for I will immediately give you rest—the rest which My labors have earned for believers.”
Have You Become Burdened?
Those who are active in working for salvation quickly become burdened. Besides the burden of their self-righteous labor, there comes upon them the awful, tremendous, crushing burden of past sin, and a sense of the wrath of God which is due to that sin. A soul which has to bear the load of its own sin, and the load of divine wrath, is indeed heavy laden.
God’s Rest is a Gift
It is implied, too, that these are undeserving of rest, for it is said, “Come unto Me … and I will give you rest.” A gift is not of merit but of grace. Wages and reward are for those who earn, but a gift is a matter of charity. You who feel your unworthiness, who have been seeking salvation earnestly, and suffering the weight of sin, Jesus will freely give to you what you cannot earn or purchase. He will give it as an act of His own free, rich, sovereign mercy. If you come to Him, He is prepared to give it to you now, for He has promised, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus Says, “Come Unto Me”
To come is to leave one thing, and to advance to another. Come, then, leave your labors, leave your self-reliant efforts, leave your sins, leave all in which you have trusted, and come to Jesus. Think of Him who bore the load of human sin upon the cross of Calvary. Think of Jesus, the divinely-appointed substitute and sacrifice for guilty man. Then, seeing that He is God’s own Son, let faith follow your contemplation. Rely upon Him, put your trust in Him who suffered in your place. Look to Him for the payment of your debt to satisfy the wrath of God.
Repent and Believe
Coming to Jesus involves both repentance and faith. Repentance leaves the place where you now stand, and then faith brings you into reliance upon Jesus. If you want rest, you can find it nowhere until you come and lay your burdens down at His dear pierced feet, and find life in looking alone to Him.
—C. H. Spurgeon, adapted
In Christ we have: a love that can never be fathomed; a life that can never die; a righteousness that can never be tarnished; a peace that can never be understood; a rest that can never be disturbed; a joy that can never be diminished; a hope that can never be disappointed; a glory that can never be clouded; a light that can never be darkened; a happiness that can never be interrupted; a strength that can never be weakened; a purity that can never be defiled; a beauty that can never be marred; a wisdom that can never be baffled; and resources that can never be exhausted. —Unknown