Rest for the Weary (Matthew 11:25-30)

Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | July 6, 2014


Theme: Those to whom the truth about Jesus has been revealed are encouraged to enjoy the benefits of being his followers.

  • In Jr. High, I was a clumsy boy
  • And to make it worse, the steps of the stairways in our school had front edges made of steel which made them strong but slippery.
  • So I frequently slipped on them going up the stairs. When I did, because I was holding my books in my arms, they went flying everywhere.
  • It was embarrassing.
  • The cool kids looking on did nothing to help, they just laughed at how clumsy and uncool I was.
  • Jesus had been preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God, but some were acting like spoiled children saying, “We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.”
  • Nothing he did would please them.
  • Why? Bc they didn’t think they needed salvation.

  • They were doing fine on their own. So he was alternately a big joke and a source of irritation to them.
  • Sometimes they just laughed at him. Other times they tried to trip him up.
  • Life is like that for you, too, if you are a believer.
  • Life in a fallen world is hard for everyone, it makes us weary and we want rest.
  • Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, men toil and sweat, and women experience the pain of childbearing and the rulership or domination of their husbands.
  • Not only that. All are in bondage to sin – we slip and fall – up the stairs, as it were.
  • But there are those who instead of giving making your life easier – giving you rest or giving you a helping hand, would make your life more difficult for you because you’re a believer.
  • They think they have all the answers and don’t need God.
  • So sometimes they think you’re a joke and just laugh at you.
  • But at other times, they place a heavy load on you, so to speak, expecting you to be perfect.
  • And when you fail to meet their unreasonable standard, they think they’ve proved you wrong and proved themselves right.
  • That’s basically what the scribes and Pharisees were doing in Jesus day to the average Jew.
  • They piled extraneous laws on the people, but missed the heart of the law, which was love.
  • Jesus said in Matthew 23, “they have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But the do all their deeds to be noticed by men.”
  • They were the cool kids of their day.
  • They wanted to be seen and noticed and popular.
  • But they had a double standard – one for the people and another for themselves in order to bolster their self-image.
  • But Jesus has no double standard.
  • Why? Because of his relationship with his Father. He knows who he is and knows he’s loved.
  • Look at v. 27. “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal him.”
  • Here Jesus asserts his own divinity as the Son of God. He is both equal with the Father as God and loved by the Father as Son.
  • As God, Jesus has nothing to prove.
  • As the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world, he offers us the rest and help we need.
  • As God, he issues the invitation in v. 28, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
  • He offers us something very different than the scribes and Pharisees of our day.
  • He offers a life not of unreasonable laws to obey, but an example to follow.
  • That is, He offers a light burden.
  • And instead of standing by looking on and laughing at or despising us when we fail, he offers to help us a helping hand.
  • That is, He offers us an easy yoke.
  • What is this easy yoke and light burden he offers that gives us rest?
  • And what is the key to receiving his rest?
  • His light burden is an example to follow found in his Holy Word.
  • His easy yoke is a helping hand provided by His Holy Spirit.
  • The key to receiving his rest – submission to Christ.

A light burden – an example to follow found in his Holy Word.

  • Look at v 29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”
  • Here he’s offering what God offered Israel in Jer. 6:16. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you shall find rest for your souls…”
  • In other words, follow in the paths I’ve prescribed for you in my Law, and you will find rest.
  • 1 John 5:3 says something similar, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome.”
  • For the believer, following the reasonable commands of God are not a burden, but a relief.
  • Are they difficult? Yes.
  • But as Reformed theology teaches, “The third purpose of the law reveals what is pleasing to God.
  • As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve.
  • The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it.
  • This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.”


  • The Christian is freed from bondage to sin, and enabled to live as God himself lives – according to God’s law – by grace through faith in Christ.
  • It’s a relief to be set free from the power of sin.
  • You no longer have to sin.
  • You are now enabled not to sin by the power of the Spirit of Christ in you.
  • You are enabled to live in a way that pleases and honors God, as man was created to do.
  • Jesus says in v.28 “learn from me.” That is, follow my example.
  • How do we do that? Primarily by studying his Word day by day.
  • By studying the Word of God daily, we become life-long learners, following the example of Christ in our words, our deeds and the attitudes of our hearts.
  • When we follow Jesus’ example, our burden is light.
  • Remember the difference between what the Pharisees and Jesus when addressing the woman caught in adultery?
  • The Pharisees demanded stoning.
  • But Jesus offered forgiveness and the command to go and sin no more.
  • The perfectionists, the legalists, the moralists in your life demand all or nothing.
  • But Jesus offers forgiveness and restoration when we fail. He says, “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
  • Why? because he is “gentle and humble in heart.” (v. 29)
  • Jesus is gentle toward us because he has experienced the sufferings and temptations of this life as we have.
  • Hebrews 2 says “being make like us in all things…he himself was tempted in what he suffered. So he is able to come to the aid of the spiritual sons of Abraham who are tempted.” (v. 14-18)
  • Summary: We can obey his commands by following his example found daily in his word, and because of his loving grace toward us. His burden is light.

An easy yoke – a helping hand provided by His Holy Spirit.

  • But Jesus offers more than his example.
  • He offers more than a light burden. He offers an easy yoke.
  • He offers a helping hand. He offers the power of his Spirit to enable us to live as he lived.
  • He offers us his yoke, “take my yoke upon you…for my yoke is easy.”
  • There’s a difference between an animal yoke and a human yoke.
  • An animal yoke distributes the weight of the work between two or more animals pulling a plow or wagon.
  • A human yoke distributes the weight of whatever one person is carrying to make it easier to carry.
  • You’ve seen pictures or videos of people with a long pole balanced on their shoulders carrying a load fastened onto each end of the pole.
  • That’s a human yoke.
  • It’s easier to carry heavy weights when the weight is evenly distributed on your body.
  • But those are third world or farm illustrations. Most of you don’t live in the third world or on a farm.
  • Perhaps a more modern illustration is the
  • We see them most every day.
  • Kids use backpacks, college students use backpacks.
  • Even many adults use backpacks.
  • Why? Because you can carry a lot more stuff in a backpack than you can in your arms.
  • And it distributes the weight evenly on your body.
  • Or a toolbelt…
  • Or a rolling bag….
  • distributes weight evenly.
  • I wish I’d had a backpack in Jr. High!
  • In contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who refused to lift a finger to help the Jews obey all the laws they came up with, Jesus offers us a helping hand!
  • He offers his yoke – his enabling power by the Spirit – to evenly distribute the weight – so to speak – of whatever he calls us to carry in this life.
  • He puts our many books in his backpack and places it evenly on our backs that we might be able to carry them.
  • His yoke is easy.

The key – submission to Christ.

  • The key receiving Jesus’ rest is submission to Christ – recognizing our need for him and dependence on him.
  • It’s found in v. 25 and v.29. V. 25 calls believers “babes.”
  • In truth, we are as dependent on Christ as a baby is dependent on his parents. “In him we live and move and have our being.”
  • Yet some people think they don’t need him, they are “wise and intelligent,” in their own eyes.
  • They think they don’t need Christ, who is “wisdom” incarnate, who was with God at creation.
  • But in v. 26 God was “pleased both to hide these things” from them and to “reveal them” to those who understand their sinful nature and their need for him.
  • God’s eternal purpose was that men would know Christ, love Christ, follow the example of Christ, and be enabled by Christ to fulfill his mission in the world.
  • Because God loved Christ, and Christ loved God from before the foundation of the world, Jesus freely calls you and me into that eternal love and fellowship by his sacrificial love.
  • And finally in v. 29, Jesus says, “learn from me.”
  • One person can’t learn from another person unless one submits himself to the other’s teaching and example.
  • Sometimes Jesus teaches us through others.
  • Sometimes even by others who might appear to be less intelligent or less “together” than we are.
  • Yet Jesus says, “A little child shall lead them.”
  • Are you willing to submit yourself to learn from someone who is more childlike than you are?
  • Or do you already “know it all?”
  • Jesus offers rest to the weary.
  • He calls us to “come to him” personally, to receive his Sabbath rest in this weary world – first for salvation, and then for loving service to him.
  • Receive his offer by faith in the living Christ today.
  • His yoke is easy and his burden is light.


Categories: 2014, Pentecost, Sermons, The Life and Ministry of Jesus

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