(J C Ryle - 1856)
“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11: 25-30)
Let us learn, in the last place, from this passage, the breadth and fullness of the invitations of Christ’s Gospel. The last three verses of the chapter, which contain this lesson, are indeed precious. They meet the trembling sinner who asks, “Will Christ reveal His Father’s love to such an one as me?” with the most gracious encouragement. They are verses which deserve to be read with special attention. For eighteen hundred years they have been a blessing to the world, and have done good to myriads of souls. There is not a sentence in those who does not contain a mine of thought.
Mark who they are that Jesus invites. He does not address those who feel themselves righteous and worthy. He addresses “all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” It is a wide description. It comprises multitudes in this weary world. All who feel a load on their heart, of which they would sincerely get free, a load of sin or a load of sorrow, a load of anxiety or a load of remorse – all, whoever they may be, and whatever their past lives – all such are invited to come to Christ.
Mark what a gracious offer Jesus makes. “I will give you rest”; “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” How cheering and comfortable are these words! Unrest is one great characteristic of the world. Hurry, vexation, failure, disappointment, stare us in the face on every side. But here is hope. There is an ark of refuge for the weary, as truly as there was for Noah’s dove. There is rest in Christ, rest of conscience, and rest of heart, rest built on pardon of all sin, rest flowing from peace with God.
Mark what a simple request Jesus makes to the labouring and heavy-laden ones. “Come unto me … Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” He interposes no hard conditions. He speaks nothing of works to be done first, and deservingness of His gifts to be established. He only asks us to come to Him just as we are, with all our sins, and to submit ourselves like little children to His teaching. “Go not,” He seems to say, “to man for relief. Wait not for help to arise from any other quarter. Just as you are, this very day, come to me.”
Mark what an encouraging account Jesus gives of Himself. He says, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” How true that is, the experience of all the saints of God has often proved. Mary and Martha at Bethany, Peter after his fall, the disciples after the resurrection, Thomas after his cold unbelief, all tasted the meekness and gentleness of Christ. It is the only place in Scripture where the “heart” of Christ is actually named. It is a saying never to be forgotten.
Mark, lastly, the encouraging account that Jesus gives of His service. He says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” No doubt there is a cross to be carried, if we follow Christ. No doubt there are trials to be endured, and battles to be fought. But the comforts of the Gospel far outweigh the cross. Compared to the service of the world and sin, compared to the yoke of Jewish ceremonies, and the bondage of human superstition, Christ’s service is in the highest sense easy and light. His yoke is no more a burden than the feathers are to a bird. His commandments are not grievous. His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. (I John 5: 3; Prov. 3:17.)
And now comes the solemn inquiry – Have we accepted this invitation for ourselves? Have we no sins to be forgiven, no griefs to be removed, no wounds of conscience to be healed? If we have, let us hear Christ’s voice. He speaks to us as well as to the Jews. He says, “Come unto me.” Here is the key to true happiness. Here is the secret of having a happy heart.
May we never be satisfied until we know and feel that we have come to Christ by faith for rest, and do still come to Him for fresh supplies of grace every day! If we have come to Him already, let us learn to cleave to Him more closely. If we have never come to Him yet, let us begin to come today. His word shall never be broken – “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6: 37).
(Extracted from Gracegems website)