Matthew 11:28-29 (New International Reader's Version)28 "Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls.
After the long struggles of a week, we look to Saturdays as a time of rest and recuperation. But unfortunately for the burdens and struggles of the heart and soul, even the weekend off from work, rarely supplies the true rest that we might be seeking.
In this passage, Jesus reaches out to everyone of us who might be weighed down by the troubles of this life and this world. As God in the flesh, he steps into our world of troubles and struggles, our bad week at the office or school, the problems we encounter at home and in our finances, and he offers to give us rest and relief. We are hard pressed to find anything else out there that offers to carry the burdens we have to bear. This is great encouragement when life "just gets us down".
Just how does he do this? He instructs us to come to him and learn from him, and he will give us rest from heavy burdens of life. In the King James translation, Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me". The illustration we are given is one of beasts of burden pulling a heavy wagon. The yoke distributes the weight across the shoulders of the beasts, making it easier to carry the load. It also keeps the animals close together and heading in the same direction.
Jesus presents us with the picture that he already is carrying our burdens and struggles, and he is asking us to carry them with him while he lightens the load and shows us the right way to go. He does not ask for anything but for us to learn by his example of gentleness and humility. He ends these words by giving us the promise that we will find rest for our souls if we do this.
The important teaching that we need to learn from this passage are the actions we must take, to obtain the relief from the burdens and struggles he is promising. First we need to "come to him"(surrender our lives to him), then "become his follower" (take the step to trust in him), and finally "learn from his teaching", (live our lives out following his example). If you are burdened in your life right now, take time out to pray and accept Jesus's offer to lighten your load.