I’m one of those happy people who gets to work in my pajamas sometimes. My work, however, doesn’t involve sleeping. I have to be awake. More than that, I have to be thinking, communicating, and putting significant effort in if I’m going to do a good job. You too, huh?
Maybe I was just extra-ready for bed, but when I read the classic verse recently, the reference to “rest” made me laugh:
“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.” –Matthew 11:29
Who rests with a yoke on?
Worn by animals under the direction of their master as they labor, yokes are devices for steering oxen and other livestock through the process of completing their purpose. Biblically, people are referred to as being under the yoke of slavery to sin and the yoke of kings or oppressive nations.
Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we, as laborers for Christ, submit to Him as a master. Jesus tells us about what He’s like as a master: gentle and humble. He says His yoke teaches us. That certainly differs from other kinds of yokes used to burden or belittle.
But the idea of His yoke being restful?
Work isn’t restful- even for doers like me.
Of course, the plain text isn’t talking about sleep-rest. What Jesus refers to is “rest for your soul.”
Rest for the soul– that we actually do find when submitting to His yoke, as His laborers.
Our lives are wrapped up in striving. We live by effort, working at this and that to create and fulfill until it’s time for what’s next. We work for money just to need to work for more money. Our goals are stepping stones to bigger goals. The mentality tends to be “make it count.”
Meanwhile, our souls are ever straining against the yokes of these masters. Our earthly masters don’t aim to fulfill us, but to be fulfilled.
Whether money, reputation, ambition, or meaning, our not-Christ masters and their yokes chaff against the truth of what God made us for: Him.
“That is why we labor and strive,” Paul explains to Timothy, “because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior” (1 Timothy 4:10.)
Do you want rest for your soul, rest for the soul weary from the striving to save you using money, fame, ambition, or anything else?
Put your hope in your Savior. You’ll put on His yoke. He’ll lead you without all the chaffing and straining against deadlines and expectations you weren’t made to meet. He’ll lead you in the way of perfect peace, a soul-restful path indeed.
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