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Matthew 11:28-30 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Jesus’ Yoke Is Refreshing
28 “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
NOTE: Article by R. A. Torrey, but Edward D. Andrews has updated this to deal with today.
It is a pretty dark day in America right now, but we have a very bright text—a good text for a world going through such difficult times. The subject is just the offer this world needs. You will find it in Matt. 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.” That is just the offer this old world needs. What this world needs is rest. What every man and woman in this world, who has not already found it in Christ, needs is rest. When I see the billions of men and women on the earth, the toilers who are working hard for small pay, and who go home night after night to their wretched homes, all worn out, without any fit place to sleep, or the loss of lives from terrorists—when I see them my heart is heavy; but when I see the many more millions who have not merely no rest for the body, but no rest for their heart, no rest for their souls, rich as well as poor, my heart is heavier yet. But I am glad that there is One who can give rest to every tired heart, and that one is Jesus Christ. He stands with extended hands, and says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.” Now, those are either the words of a Divine Being or the words of a lunatic. If the Lord Jesus Christ offers rest and gives it, He is a Divine Being; if He offers rest and cannot give it, He is a lunatic. Suppose any man, even the greatest and the best that the world ever saw, should stand and hold out his hands to this sorrowing, grief-stricken, burdened world of ours and say what Jesus said, “Come to me, and I will give you rest,” you would know at once that the man had gone crazy, for no man could do it. But Jesus offers to do it, and He does it. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of millions throughout the centuries have accepted Christ’s offer, and nobody ever truly accepted it, yet that did not find rest.
There was a great throng when the Lord Jesus spoke that day, perhaps as big as the crowd that throngs many churches today, but a much more motley crowd. It represented great misery like what we have of late. There were multitudes of the poor there; the penniless and the sick were there; all kinds of diseases were represented—leprosy, blindness, every manner of disease. The demoniac was there, the outcast man and woman, the man and woman who were down, the man and woman that everybody was tramping upon—a vast mass of misery—and the Lord Jesus Christ cast His loving eye over that great multitude that represented so much misery, and His great heart went out toward them, and He said, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, 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.”
And do you know, men and women, He not only extended His hands to that great throng that represented so much misery, but He also extends His hands to all men and all women in all ages that are burdened, down-trodden, oppressed, wretched, broken-hearted, despairing. He says to them all, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He says it to you.
Will you please notice, in the first place, who it is He has invited—all that labor and are heavy laden. The commentators have tried to tone down the words of our Lord. Some commentators tell us that He meant all who were burdened with the many requirements of the Mosaic law; other commentators tell us He meant all who were burdened by a consciousness of sin, a sense of guilt. But, friends, He means just what it says. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor”—every man that has a burden, a sorrow, a heartache, a trouble, a woe of any kind—Jesus invites you to come.
First of all, He invites all who are burdened with a sense of sin and a sense of shame. I suppose there are men and women, many of them, who have been brought in one way or another to recognize the fact that your life is disgraceful. You are ashamed of yourself. You hardly lift up your heads, dare not lift them up and look your fellow-men or fellow-women in the face. You are saying to yourself, “My life is simply shameful,” and you are crushed by the sense of your disgrace and your sin. To every one of you, Jesus says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
That day when our Lord Jesus uttered these words in Capernaum, away out on the outskirts of the crowd was a woman who was a sinner, a professional sinner, an outcast despised by every one. As she stood there on the outskirts of that great crowd, I have no doubt many a woman who prided herself on her morality turned round and looked at her with scorn, but soon Jesus looks at her too—not with scorn, with pity, with compassion, with tenderness, with yearning, with love,—and as His eye falls upon her, she looks right at Him, and she sees He is speaking directly to her. He seems to lose sight of everybody else, and just stretches His hands out towards her as He utters the words of the text, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That woman says, “He means me,” and when the crowd broke up she followed at a distance to see where Jesus went. Jesus went to the house of Simon, the Pharisee, who had invited Him to dinner. As soon as she knows where He had gone she hurries to her home, takes out of her treasures a very costly box of ointment, the most expensive thing that she has, hurries back to Simon’s house, goes into the open door through the open court, and as Jesus reclines there in the Oriental way, she comes up behind, bends over His feet, which are bare in the Oriental fashion, and begins to bathe them with her tears. The other guests looked up in scorn. They say, “This man pretends to be a prophet; He is no prophet, or He would not allow that woman to touch Him. If He were a prophet, He would know what kind of a woman she is; that she is a sinner.” Well, He does know. He knows better than any of them do, not only that she is a sinner, but that she is a repenting sinner. When His feet are wet with her tears, she takes the long tresses of her beautiful hair and wipes His feet with her hair. Then she breaks over them the alabaster box of precious ointment, and the Lord Jesus turns to her and says, “Woman, thy sins are all forgiven.” Then He says again, “Woman, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace,” and that woman, who that day stood on the outskirts of that crowd with a breaking heart, went away from that house with the rest of God in her heart. Is there any woman like her, or any man down in sin, anyone burdened with a sense of sin and shame—come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will give you rest?
In the second place, the Lord Jesus invites every man and woman who is burdened by the bondage of sin. There are men, for example, who are in bondage to the appetite for strong drink. You want to be sober, you want to lead upright lives; you have tried again and again to give up the drink, but you failed. And this appetite for strong drink is an awful, crushing burden. Some of you are burdened with the appetite for drugs, or pornography, or gambling. Oh, how you have tried to be free from your bondage. The Lord Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.” Some of you are burdened with vileness, with impurity, with disgusting sin. How you hate yourself, how you despise yourself; how you have tried to break away time and time again, until at last you have given it up, and now you are utterly discouraged, crushed by the power of your sin. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.” With some of the rest of you it is some other sin, but all throughout the earth right now, if we could read the secret sorrow of your heart, we would find hundreds of thousands of men and women, crushed to the earth by the power of sin. The Lord Jesus says to every one of you, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.”
I have a very dear friend in America who was very carefully reared by a godly mother. He has as good blood in his veins as there is in America. His mother was very much afraid that he would become a drunkard, and so she besought him that he would never touch alcoholic liquor. He lived up to eighteen years of age without tasting it. He lived in the country, and one day he went to town with a man. On the way back the man bought some whisky and asked him to drink. “No,” he said, “I promised my mother never to drink.” “Well,” he said, “if you don’t drink, you will insult me.” And that elderly man just worked on that boy until he got him to drink his first glass of whisky. Then the demon in him was set on fire. From that, he became almost immediately a drunkard. He went down, down, down, in the course of years, lost one position after another, and at last was a wrecked man in New York city. He had uttered one hundred and thirty-eight forgeries against his last employer, and the officers of the law were now in search for him.
One night, one awful night, he went into a tavern and for a long time sat there in a drunken stupor, and then coming out of the stupor he felt all the horrors of delirium tremors coming over him. He thought he was going to die. He went up to the bar and ordered a glass of whiskey, then he rattled the glass upon the bar so that the bar shook. He said, “Men, hear me, hear me; I shall never drink another glass of whiskey if I die.” And they all laughed at him. He went out of the tavern, went to the police station, and said to the sergeant of police at the desk, “Lock me up; I am going to have the tremors; lock me up!” The sergeant sent him down to the cell and locked him up. He spent a night of awful agony, and the next day of awful agony, and as the night was coming on somebody said to him—the lock-up was a little way from the Mission—“Why don’t you go to Jerry M’Auley’s Mission.” So as best he could, in an awful condition, he went down to Jerry M’Auley’s Mission, listened to one man after another who had been saved giving his testimony, and when Jerry M’Auley asked all who would take Christ to come to the front, he went up to the front, knelt down, and said, “Jerry, pray for me.” Jerry said, “Pray for yourself,” “Oh,” he said, “I don’t know how to pray. I have forgotten how to pray. Jerry, pray for me.” Jerry said, “Pray for yourself,” and that wrecked, and ruined man lifted up his broken heart to Jesus. He came to Jesus; Jesus met him then and there, and took the appetite for whiskey from him then and there. That man is today one of the most honored men in New York City. Some years ago I was in the city of Washington, and I met the Postmaster-General of the United States. He asked me if I would go to dinner with him that night after a meeting. I went up to dinner to the house of the Postmaster-General of the United States of America, and as I entered the drawing-room, who should I see sitting there as an honored guest but Mr. Samuel Hadley, this poor drunkard of bygone years of whom I have just spoken, but now an honored guest in the house of the Postmaster-General of the United States of America.
Oh, men, are you burdened? Have you fought against sin and failed? Have you tried again and again, perhaps signed pledge after pledge, but only to break it? Have you some other besetting sin? Are you burdened with the weight of an overcoming sin? Jesus holds out His hand to you. He says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.”
He invites everybody burdened with a sorrow. If you only knew the sorrow of men and women—how much sorrow is represented in this great world right now at this moment! All the light has gone out of the lives of some of you men because your wife has recently died. Some of you sons and daughters are broken-hearted over the recent death of a loving Christian mother. Some of you fathers and mothers are broken-hearted because just recently a loved child has been taken from your home and sleeps in the quiet cemetery. Some of you have met with reverses in business. Some of you have other sorrows; but it matters not what your sorrow is, how peculiar, how great, how overwhelming. To every sorrowing man and woman, Jesus holds out His hands and says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.”
Some time ago, in our country, there was a gentleman and his wife who had a very happy home. The man was prosperous in business in the city of Cleveland in Ohio, but there came a reverse in business and the man lost everything he had in the world. The home was broken up; his oldest daughter had to go out to work to make a living. His two boys were too young to work. His wife had to leave him and take the two boys and go away to one of the Southern States to the home of a sister, and act as housekeeper to make a living for herself and boys. The father came to Chicago to see if he could not retrieve his fortunes. After his wife had been in the South some time, hoping that a better day might come again, she received a call saying that her husband was very ill in Chicago, and she had better come on to Chicago at once. She took the train. It was a long journey. She reached Chicago that night and went to the hospital to which her husband had been taken. But by some mistake, the authorities of the hospital said to her, “You cannot see your husband tonight; come at nine o’clock tomorrow morning, and you can see him.” With a heavy heart, she went to a place where she stopped, and went back to the hospital at nine the next morning. The medical staff met her and informed her, “Your husband died last night.” She took him out and buried him, and so great was her loneliness and sorrow, and so frequent her weeping, that it affected her eyesight. She went to a physician. The physician told her it was not very serious, that she could go back to Mississippi and her eyes would soon be well. She supposed that he was a regular physician; she found out afterwards that he was a Christian science physician and was trying to cure her by making her feel she was not ill. She went back to Mississippi. Her eyes got worse and worse. She went to a regular physician. The physician examined her eyes. He said, “Madam, your case is hopeless. If you had come to me a few weeks ago, I could have helped you. Your trouble has gone so far now that there is absolutely no hope for you. You will be totally blind.” Home broken up, husband buried, eyesight gone. She came on to Chicago. She dropped into our church; she heard the Gospel; she heard about Jesus. She came to Jesus with all her overwhelming sorrow, and Jesus gave her rest. And if you come to the prayer meeting at our church any Friday night you will see sitting there a woman with a refined, beautiful face, dressed in black, eyes closed, perfectly sightless, but in that face you will see a serener and profounder joy than you have often seen in a human face. Very likely you will see her rise to her feet during the meeting with a face radiant with the sunshine of heaven, and tell how wonderfully God has blessed her; and you may hear her say what she says often, that she thanks God she has lost her sight, for out of her great troubles she was brought to Christ and found a joy that she never knew before.
Men and women, there is a place where there is a cure for every sorrow. That place is at the feet of Jesus. I have a beautiful Testament at home that I think very highly of, not because of the beauty of the binding, but because my mother gave it to my grandmother, my father’s mother—I think it was at the time of my grandfather’s death—and on the flyleaf of the Testament in my mother’s own beautiful handwriting are these words, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” That is true, but something better is true. Earth has no sorrow that Jesus cannot heal right now before we get to heaven.
Again, the Lord Jesus invites all who are burdened by doubt and unbelief. Now, to some men, doubt and unbelief are not a burden. They are glad that they are skeptics. They are proud of their doubts. But to an earnest-minded man, to a man of any real moral earnestness, doubt is a burden, a heavy load—he is never proud of doubt. He never rejoices in doubt. An earnest-minded man wants not doubt, but truth; not uncertainty, but certainty; not agnosticism, but knowledge of God. I doubt not in this great crowd there are some who honestly doubt, and your doubt is a burden. Well, Jesus says to you, “Come to me all you that are burdened with doubt, and I will give you rest.” “What,” you say, “a skeptic come to Christ, an unbeliever come to Christ, an agnostic come to Christ!” Certainly; He is the best One you can come to. Thomas was a skeptic. The other disciples had seen our Lord after His resurrection. Thomas was not present. When Thomas came back, the other disciples said, “We have seen the Lord.” He said, “I don’t believe a word of it. I don’t believe you have seen the Lord, and I won’t believe it unless I see with my own eyes, and put my fingers into the prints of the nails in His hand, and thrust my hand into His side.” But Thomas was an honest doubter, and when he thought that perhaps the Lord Jesus would be around the next Sunday evening, he was there. He came to Jesus with his doubts. Jesus scattered every one of them, and Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God.”
Nathaniel was a doubter, an honest doubter, a thorough-going skeptic. Philip came to him and said, “Nathaniel, we have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathaniel said, “I don’t believe He is the Messiah. He came from Nazareth, then He is not the Messiah. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said, “You come and see.” Ah, that is the thing to do; come and see. Nathaniel said, “I will come.” He came along with Philip; he met the Lord, and he had not been with the Lord ten minutes when all his doubts were gone, and Nathaniel cried, “You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel.”
Men, if you are burdened with doubt, bring your doubts to Jesus. Whatever your burden is, Jesus invites you, every burdened one, every heavy-hearted one, to come unto Him. “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, and I will give you rest.”
Will you please notice what Jesus invites you to do? Jesus says, “Come to me”—not, come to the Church; the Church cannot give you rest. I believe in the Church; I believe every converted man ought to be a member of some church, but the Church never gave anybody rest. The Church is full of people today who have never found rest. They have come to the Church instead of coming to Jesus Himself. Jesus does not say, “Come to a creed.” I believe in creeds. I think every man ought to have a creed. A creed is simply an intelligent, systematic statement of what a man believes; and a man ought to believe something, and ought to be able to state intelligently what he believes, and if he is an intelligent, studious man, his creed will be getting longer all the time. I have a creed, a great long one. It is getting longer every day, for I am learning something new every day; but, friends, no creed ever gave anybody rest. You go to the Thirty-nine Articles; they won’t give you rest. Go to the Westminster Catechism—good creed; it won’t give you rest, though. There was never a creed written or printed that would give anybody rest. It is not going to a creed; it is going to the personal Savior. Many a man is orthodox, orthodox enough for anybody—great, long creed—but he never came to the personal Jesus, and he has not found rest. The Lord Jesus does not say, “Come to the pope,” or, “Come to the priest,” or, “Come to the preacher,” or, “Come to the evangelist,” or “Come to any other man.” He says, “Come to me.” No preacher can give you rest, no priest can give you rest, no pope can give you rest, no man can give you rest. Jesus says, “Come to me.” I have sometimes asked people if they have come to Jesus, and they say, “Oh, I am a Protestant.” Well, that never saved anybody. There will be lots of Protestants who do not receive eternal life. Others say, “I am a Roman Catholic.” That never saved anybody either. There will be lots of Roman Catholics losing out on eternal life. When a man says, “I am a Roman Catholic,” I say, “I am not asking you that. Have you come to Jesus?” It is not a question of whether you are a Roman Catholic or a Protestant. Have you come to Jesus? If you have not, will you come now?
Oh, men are so anxious to put somebody else in the place of Jesus—to come to some man. A lady said to me one night in my own church, “I am a Roman Catholic. I like to come to hear you preach, and I would like to ask you a question. Can I come and confess to you? I want to confess to somebody?” “No, you can’t,” I said, “you come to Jesus.” “Come to me,” says Jesus. Nobody but Jesus can give you rest. Jesus can, and He will give rest to any one who comes to Him. “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, 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.”
Come to Jesus, take His yoke, surrender absolutely unto Him, commit all your sins to Him to pardon, commit all your doubts to Him to remove, commit all your thoughts to Him to teach, commit yourself to Him to believe in Him, to learn from Him, to obey Him, to serve Him, and the moment you come to Him with all your heart and cast yourself upon Him, He will give you rest. You can have rest right now before I get through preaching, before I ask you to stand up, right there sitting in your chair, right this moment. Jesus is nearer to you than the man in the next seat. Say, “Jesus, I come,” and He will give you rest.
Will you come? Lose sight of me, lose sight of all others, see the Lord Jesus standing there, holding out His hands to you, one and all, with a heart bursting with love, breaking with pity and compassion, and saying to every heavy-hearted man and woman, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and loaded down, 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.” Will you come?