Dear Radio Friends,
In Matthew 11:28, the Lord Jesus spoke these beautiful words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
It is by faith, God’s gift, that we hear Him say this to us personally in our hearts, and hear those words as the most beautiful and best words ever spoken: “Come unto me … and I will give you rest.” May God, the Holy Spirit, grant unto us such faith that we might hear Him speak to me, to you, personally, as if there is no one else in the world, hear Him speak those beautiful words of peace to our souls: “Come unto me … and I will give you rest.”
In those words I see that Jesus Christ knows who I am. He identifies me as one who labors and is heavy laden. That refers not simply to the trials of this present life and the temptations and how the enemy, the devil, would seek to destroy me. But it refers especially to the burden of sin. Before that burden of sin we tremble. The Lord calls those who, by His grace, know the burden of their sin, their personal sin, and in this present life experience many trials, many sorrows, and many heartaches. To such He calls by His powerful, loving w ord: “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” Do you hear Him in His Word, do you hear Him speak to you today: “I will give you rest”?
Jesus, as I said, is calling the laboring and the heavy laden to come to Him for rest. Who are they?
First of all, they are those who, right now as they hear this word, feel drawn to come to Jesus. Those who experience the irresistible grace of Jesus Christ. Notice with me, it is not an offer, but a command. Come! Come to Me! It is a sovereign command. It is the command of a king. It is spoken by someone who has the ability to accomplish exactly what he is saying. It is not: “Please, it’s up to you. Make a choice.” No, Jesus is speaking here as the King, the Master. He speaks of His irresistible grace. He works within us so that we hear, and He works within us in such a way that when we hear Him say, “Come,” we feel drawn to Him. Do you feel that? That is the working of His grace. That is the work that He performed in the prodigal son. You remember the parable of the young man who wasted his father’s substance with riotous living and found himself in the pig trough. The one who said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He felt within him the pull of his God.
Jesus spoke this command publicly. He did not say it in a corner, but He proclaimed it as He was standing on the streets of those cities of His day — Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum — where, we read, most of His mighty works had been done, and those who heard Him repented not. Why had they not repented, even though His mighty works had been done in their streets? Jesus explains that in verses 25, 26: It pleased the Father to hide the things of the kingdom from those who are wise and prudent and to reveal it unto babes. Then Jesus went on to say, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Jesus said that there had been a sovereign decision of God to open the hearts of some, to reveal to them their poverty, and to leave others in their own conceit and pride.
So, right now also, in the name of Jesus Christ, I declare publicly, I declare to everyone who is hearing: “Come to Jesus and you will have rest.” But those who are called are those who now, by a work of the Holy Spirit, a work of the Spirit’s grace within their hearts, feel drawn to come, convicted, touched in the heart, so that that word is effectual in their soul.
But more. They are not only the ones that Jesus calls, the ones who, by His grace, feel drawn to Him. But they are also the ones who feel themselves to be burdened and weary under their sins. Jesus calls those who labor and are heavy laden to come unto Him. I say again that this refers primarily to the burden and weight of sin. It refers to those who are given to know their sin as an overwhelming weariness, an awful weight of the heart.
All men and women experience misery. They all experience weariness, and they all feel burdens. Everyone does. But there are some who do not come to Jesus. They do not come to Jesus because pride will not allow them to see that their misery, their burden, their heavy weight is ultimately their sin and their damnworthiness before God. There are many who are in line at the church and who want relief from misery. They want relief from the problems of this life. But when the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims to them that they are, of themselves, sinners — proud, not worthy of salvation, not able to save themselves, desperately wicked — they go away. That cannot be true of me, they say. No? Jesus calls those who, by the grace of God, understand that that definition of themselves is all too accurate. They understand that their misery is the misery of sin.
Do you know that? Do you know that personally? The question is this: Do you know that the cause of all of your grief and sorrow and suffering is ultimately your own sin?
Jesus says, “Come, come to Me, ye that labor and are heavy laden. Come to Me, those whom I have drawn to me, those in whom I have worked the knowledge of themselves as sinners before God.”
When Jesus describes our sin as weariness, He is not talking just of becoming tired. But He is referring there to the weariness of sighing, the weariness of saying, “It’s hopeless. It’s too much. I’ve tried. I’m tired. I’m weary over my sin.” Do you know what it is to be weary over your own sins, which you fight against day by day? I am not asking you if you can tell me today what sin is. Probably many who are listening to the program right now have a good deal of acquaintance with the Christian gospel, and could even stand as some authority on what constitutes sin, especially, perhaps, what constitutes sin in the world around them. I am not asking you that. No, the Lord is asking you and He is asking me, “Do you know what it is to be weary of your sins?” Not just to know your sin, but are you weary of it? So that you say, “Those sins, they’re there. I know that. I want to fight against them. I don’t want to be a jealous person. I don’t want to live in enmity. I don’t want to have hatred arise in my heart. I don’t want to participate in gossip. I don’t want to entertain that lust. But there it is again. It pops up and I have to fight it again. And I’m weary, Lord.” Jesus calls you to Himself, “Come, come to Me.”
And then Jesus says that there is in His children not only an experience of weariness over their sins but also of being heavy laden. There we have a picture of a mule under a huge load on its back. The picture is that the mule cannot take another step. He has all four feet planted on the ground, and if he lifts up one hoof the other three are going to buckle under. They are heavy laden. It is to know the burden and the guilt of sin upon your heart and upon your conscience. It means that your heart has been made tender, sensitive to Christ and to God. Your conscience was once able to sleep. You could perform a sin and go and have a good time. You could sleep, you could go to bed and not worry about it — because, of ourselves, sin is just like an opiate. It is like a sleeping pill. It puts us to sleep. But no longer. Now your conscience is pricked and your mind gives you no rest, because all of your sin now becomes a heavy guilt, a heavy weight upon your soul.
Am I defining you? Am I expressing your spiritual state? Can it be summed in these words: that you labor and are heavy laden? You are weary, tired of your sin, and you feel it pressing upon your conscience, upon your heart? Jesus says, “Come to Me. Yes, come to Me, and I will give you rest.”
The rest that He promises us is, of course, a spiritual rest, not simply a rest for the body, although the Bible is very plain that the rest of the body is very important and that it often has everything to do with our spiritual life as well. You will remember that Elijah, God’s servant, was weary and God gave him rest (40 days of rest!). But the rest that He is speaking of is primarily a spiritual rest. What is that rest? Rest, in the Bible, is the enjoyment (get these words, now, and think about them) of a completed or a perfect work. We often say that, when work is done, then we rest. Or we had fathers who said, “Don’t sit down while there is work to be done. Get going.” You rest (at least it used to be that way) after the work is done.
Rest, in the Bible, is the enjoyment of a work that is finished. The work that is finished is the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ. The work that Christ has come to fulfill. The work that had everything to do with that burden, with that weight, with that weariness of sin.
The work that Jesus came to do was to make a payment for that sin, to pay for the sins of God’s people completely, to erase them so that they no longer cry out for judgment, and, in their stead, to obtain a perfect righteousness, so that God will look upon them as being exactly what they ought to be, as He sees them in the work of His Son. Rest is the enjoyment of the completed and perfect work of Jesus Christ. When He says, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest,” He is saying, “By faith, see Me as the One who has done the work of bringing you to God.” That is rest.
Only Jesus can give rest to the soul. No one else can. Man cannot do that. Philosophy cannot do that. Counselors cannot do that. Transcendental meditation cannot do that. They are all big hoaxes. Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no rest for their soul. That is not my opinion. That is the word of the living God: Isaiah 57, “There is no rest, saith my God, to the wicked.” But to those who are brought to Jesus Christ by God’s irresistible grace and who are given to know themselves as sinners — to them there is a perfect rest. There is the enjoyment of a perfect work. There is the faith and the consciousness that He has finished it. He has made an end to my sin. He has obtained for me a perfect righteousness, which will stand before God. Rest for weary and burdened sinners. Come! And have rest.
We do not have to wait till heaven to have rest. We will have it perfectly then. But rest right now. Come unto Me, says Jesus. Do you hear Him? Do you hear Him personally as a burdened sinner? Do you? And I will give you rest!
You need to hear that today. Perhaps you are standing at the beginning of this year and the consequences of your sin are dawning upon you and you seriously consider whether it is worth it to go on. Perhaps you stand at this day and you are alone, your husband has been taken from you, or your dear child, or the consequences of certain actions, certain sins that you have committed, are going to be there now. And you despair. The risen Lord Jesus, the sovereign, the Savior of men says, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
That means that you must abandon all efforts to find rest anywhere else. His call is unconditional. His call is not “Come to Me and bring your works with you and tell Me why your works also make you a better person.” No. His word is not, “Come to Me and hide your sins behind your back, or stuff your sins into your pocket, thinking that secrecy will give you ease concerning your sin.” No. Repent. His word is not, “Renounce your own ideas and simply outwardly, mechanically, go about a Christian life.” No. But His word is, “Come to Me in utter submission to the will of the Master.”
He goes on to say, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me… for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Come to Him. Come to Him in the way of humble submission to Him. Abandon yourself and follow Him and His will. Come to Him personally.
Do not come simply to a doctrine. Do not come simply to an idea or to a book. “Come to Me and you shall have rest,” He says. That means that you must not say to Him today, “But my way is hopeless. I can’t come.” Do not say, “My burden is too heavy. It’s too much. He can’t possibly forgive what I’ve done.” Come to Him. Come to this rest-giver. Come to this burden-bearer. Come to this One who is lowly and meek of heart. Come to Him who is infinite of compassion. He will in no wise cast you out. Go to Him now. Enter into your closet. Tell Him everything. Tell Him everything. Confess your sin. Go to Him in His Word and He will give you rest. Oh, yes, He will! “I will give you rest.”
Not one soul in Jesus Christ has ever found those words untrue. Oh, what beautiful words. Do you hear them today? Do they ring in your heart?
When Jesus speaks these words to His children, something happens. Something always happens when Jesus speaks. Something always happens when He speaks to one of His own. Do you remember how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? He spoke. He commanded. He called him by name: “Lazarus, come forth.” And the dead heard and came.
One day Jesus Christ is going to be on the earth and He is going to stand above the graves and He is going to speak: Come forth to Me. And the grave will explode and the sea will give up her dead and we shall stand before Him. With the same power He speaks today to you, to every one of His own, to those who feel His word deep in their soul, to those who know their burden of sin. He says, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” And we come and we say, “Lord, where else can I go. Thou hast the words of eternal life. Give me Thy rest.”
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy precious and holy Word and we pray that it may enter into our hearts. We thank Thee for Him, the sovereign, the irresistible Savior, the mighty, the conquering Lord, the rest-giver, the One who is filled with an infinite compassion and understanding for weary and heavy-laden sinners. May such sinners find perfect rest today in Him. We pray in His name, Amen.