I hope you had a good Labor Day. It’s great for just about everybody to get a day off of work. So how much rest did you get? I bet you went back to your job with a smile on your face, filled to the brim with energy to get back to work. Maybe not? What did you do on Labor Day? I bet a lot of us didn’t actually rest. When we get free days, we do stuff—lots of stuff! How often don’t we need a vacation from vacation? I’m guilty of this. It’s like summer. Instead of a time of rest and relaxation, we need summer to be over so that we and our kids can get some rest!
There’s a danger in our lives—the danger to make our lives all about doing stuff. All about our working. Our accomplishing. Our getting stuff done! This is a huge temptation here in America. What do we pride ourselves on? Hard work. What’s the American Dream? If you work hard enough, you can do anything you want to do. Is that true? No! If it were, I would be in the NBA. I can work as hard as I want, but I’m not good enough for professional basketball. There are a lot of things that we can’t do. So the harder we work, how do we end up feeling? Tired, burdened, broken, worn out… Ever feel like that? Can you see why God forced the Israelites in the Old Testament to rest? Life isn’t about us doing stuff. It’s about God and his salvation!
So when we get tired, when we get to our breaking point, what do we try? Vacations. Right? Relax. Sleep in. Stop working—period! Have you tried that too? Maybe some of you did that on Labor Day. You just hung out. Rested. Didn’t do any projects at all. So did you get up the next day with a smile on your face, filled to the brim with energy to go back to work? I doubt it. Does it ever happen to you that the more you rest, the more tired you are? It sounds backwards, but resting doesn’t bring rest either! In fact, if you’ve ever struggled with depression, what do you spend a lot of time doing? Sleeping. Doing nothing. And still feeling broken, burdened, tired…
We need something different! If you focus your life on your hard work, you will never find rest. If you focus your life on relaxing, you still won’t find rest. So what do we need? Jesus knows. He says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Want rest? Here’s what Jesus says, “Come to me!” Isn’t that so good to hear? When we go to people for help, how often don’t they point us in another direction. “Go to the doctor.” “Go see a specialist.” “Go and talk to…” “Go and get counseling.” “Go…” Not Jesus. What does he say? “Come to me!” If you’re looking for rest, Jesus will never turn you away.
In fact, he knows exactly how we feel. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…” “Weary” and “burdened”—would that describe you today? Loaded with the guilt of our sins. Burdened with other people’s sins and the problems they cause for us. Weighed down by expectations we can’t meet. Worn out from trying as hard as we can, and still realizing we’re not good enough. To us who are weary and burdened, Jesus gives us this beautiful invitation: “Come to me… and I will give you rest.” It sounds almost too good to be true. Real rest? How?
Here’s what Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us. Do you know what a yoke is? It’s the bar that binds two oxen together so they can go to work. That sounds like the last thing we need—a yoke. More work. What? Except, think of the picture Jesus is putting in your mind. You and Jesus—yoked together. Instead of us bearing our burdens alone, Jesus yokes himself to us. Who do you think is really going to carry the load? Jesus! Jesus forgives our sins. Jesus calms our fears. Jesus is going to take us to heaven. With Jesus by our side, every burden seems so much lighter! Take Jesus up on his offer. Let him carry your burdens.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” When we take our focus off of our working, when we take our focus off of our relaxing, when we take our focus off of us and put it on Jesus and his salvation, what do we find? Rest. Rest for what? For our souls. I bet there have been times in your life when you have been dead-tired, completely exhausted, and yet have felt beautiful peace and rest in your heart. That’s what Jesus does. He gives you real rest. The idea of Labor Day didn’t start in the U.S. Having a day off of work isn’t a new idea. God built rest into the weekly life of his people, and he wants you and me to find rest over and over in Jesus. Take him up on his invitation: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Rest in Jesus.