Do I Lack Rest? Part 2

 •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 7
I would speak a little on the last verses of Matt. 11 and endeavor to bring out some of the blessed truth contained in them.
There is a marked distinction between what is said here of Jesus giving rest, and our finding rest—a distinction of much importance. He does not tell me to do anything in order that He might give me rest; it is simple, "Come unto Me." But in order to my finding rest, He says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." Practical obedience is made necessary.
It is of great moment to see the connection these things have one with the other; the saints often lose the present practical enjoyment of the rest which Jesus has given them, because of not taking heed to it.
In the consciousness of the possession of "all things"—all things being delivered unto Him of the Father, all power given unto Him in heaven and earth, all judgment committed unto Him, everything (for there is not one single thing which the Father has not given into the hands of Jesus as the rejected One of the world) His—He says, "Come unto Me."
What a most blessed connection there is then between Jesus receiving "all things" and His asking us to come unto Himself. He does not say, "Come unto Me" as the despised and rejected One merely; no, "Come unto Me" as the One "despised and rejected" indeed "of men," yet having in Himself all that men eagerly seek after, all that they count estimable, everything that is an object of human ambition. He is worthy "to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." There is in Him whom the world has rejected, not only everything that is suited to our need as sinners, but that also which can satisfy the utmost desire of our hearts; therefore it is, "Come." This is most blessed; it shows forth the grace of the heart of Jesus. When we find Him as the "rejected One turning round saying, "Come unto Me"—"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"—we learn grace indeed!
Coming unto Him, believing on His name, is all the great secret of the rest He offers. The self-righteous multitude, the scribes, the Pharisees, the lawyers, had rejected Him; but Jesus knew that there were some standing around, weary, heavy laden ones, trying to get rid of their burden of guilt in vain. The law could never give them relief; the law could never take away their sin. To these He turns; "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." Again, there are those who had had the experience of trying to find rest in society, in friends, in the world, and to them He says, "Come unto Me." Rest, true rest, is received in simply coming to Jesus. What is it that my soul wants? "Come unto Me" is the invitation; all that it needs is in the hands of Jesus—pardon of sin, eternal life, rest, whatever it may desire—all is provided for it there.
I will here notice the order presented. The Lord Jesus does not tell us to find rest until He has first given us rest. I believe many have inverted this order, and have sought to take the yoke before they were bidden. He knows exactly what the sinner needs (as also did the Father who has delivered all things into His hands)—needs simply as a gift, not to be earned, not to be deserved, but to meet Him at once—a free gift. I do press this: until there is simple rest to the soul by coming unto Jesus, in any way to act as a Christian, whether it be in worship or in service, will be bondage, for they that are in the flesh cannot please God. We must be set at rest about ourselves before we can think of acting for God. I must have rest in my soul before I can act as a saint, before I can take upon me the "yoke" of Christ. Ere I can bear His "burden" I must have got rid of my own; I must have left it with Him.
When not coming to Jesus to receive rest at His hands—a free gift—I come to Him as a taskmaster, and thus only get a double burden instead of finding that blessed rest for my soul, wherein I, a pardoned sinner, can rest and delight; and God, a holy God, can delight also.
Jesus is the true Sabbath wherein God has infinite delight. And He is the soul's most blessed Sabbath also. He has been the obedient One—"obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Man has crucified Jesus, but God has raised Him from the dead. and now God publishes His name as the only name given under heaven whereby men can be saved. He has done God's will; therefore all things are delivered unto Him of the Father, and He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Beloved friends, I again repeat it: Jesus does not ask us to take His "yoke" or His "burden" upon us until we have laid aside our own. Until I am free in spirit through the knowledge of the work of Jesus on the cross, I am not able to serve aright.
Whatever we may be in our own estimation or in the estimation of others, though despised and rejected of all around, still, as having come to Jesus, "All things are yours," not one thing withheld from us. For Jesus is the great gift of God, and in Him is treasured up every other gift—righteousness, life, peace, everything.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Jesus had borne the "burden," Jesus had borne the "yoke" Himself, and therefore He could say, "Learn of Me." I am not speaking about the burden of our sins; the Lord Jesus came also to learn "obedience by the things which He suffered." Jesus was the One who had found out all the bitterness of rejection and scorn, and yet could say, "Even so, Father"; therefore it is, "Learn of Me." In Isa. 50:10 we read, "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God." "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned"; therefore He had "the tongue of the learned," and knew how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He can tell us how He has borne the yoke Himself, going lower and lower, and He can say, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Beloved, if Christ Jesus found the yoke to be easy, and the burden light—if He could say, I have overcome, how was it?—by bowing to the yoke. And how do we overcome? always by enduring, never by endeavoring to altar circumstances, never by seeking rest here. Every man naturally thinks to overcome circumstances of trial by altering them, but this is not the way with the disciple of Jesus. When the soul of the saint complains of being ill at ease, and he is seeking practical peace and rest by endeavoring to alter the circumstances in which he is placed, he is not having that peace in Jesus which Himself has promised—"in the world ye shall have tribulation," but in Me "peace." We often speak very foolishly one to another, and seem to think that change of circumstances will afford peace. But change of circumstances merely does not affect the peace of the soul at all. Let us listen to that word, "Learn of Me." Jesus did not alter circumstances; the cup did not pass from Him. No! He bowed, and said, "Not My will, but Thine be done."
There are but two ways in which to act; we must either fight our way through the world, or endure. Now I read, God "will render to every man according to his deeds:... unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish"; and on the contrary, "to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life." Here I learn patient continuance in well doing—endurance is the great characteristic of the saint. That is the path of glory and virtue; that is the path that Jesus trod; that is the "yoke" He bore—He endured, and He found it most blessed to do so. Jesus overcame by patient continuance in well doing, and He says, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Not the rest of the fretful, impatient saint who is always trying to alter the circumstances around, but the rest of Jesus—"Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight."
I come to Jesus as a heavy laden sinner, He gives me rest, and He does not take away that which He has given—rest is my everlasting portion. But then I find myself here, still in the midst of a trying world, exposed to the temptations and wiles of the devil, and having an evil heart of unbelief myself. Now we would desire that all in us and about us were already as it will be by-and-by when Satan is chained, but it is not so. We may fret and be angry and disappointed because it is not; but if God does not choose to alter the character of either the flesh, the devil, or the world, it is no use to fret. "Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Faith says, This is the path God has chosen for me to tread. Rest is found in the denial of my own will and in following Jesus, not in seeking to alter circumstances, but in bowing the head and saying, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight." The Lord Jesus Himself found this second character of rest in becoming obedient unto the "yoke" put upon Him, and then, as One who had had the experience of it, I hear Him saying, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." This "rest" is a complete contrast to the restlessness which characterizes the walk of some saints. And why? There is, perhaps, from a desire of prominence, the going out into a public path of service, instead of living in that of home duties, where God would have them to adorn the doctrine they profess. Hence this constant restlessness. They get uneasy, disappointed, discouraged, not settled here, not settled there, but ever disquiet.
A Christian should go on unaffected by circumstances in the path of practical obedience to the will of God. There, and therein alone, is the practical rest found (for it is practical, experimental rest of which I am now speaking); when I am trying to have my own will and go on my own way, I do not find this rest.
The two things act and react one upon the other; very often we find that a saint has lost peace of soul—the blessed joy he had in knowing his sins were put away forever by the blood of Jesus, and the possession of eternal life—and what is the cause? In many cases it is because he has not been bearing the burden of Christ, but walking in the path of fleshly activity and restlessness. His peace has thus become disturbed, and he is even tempted to doubt if he be a child of God. They do act and react in a manner and to a degree of which we are little aware. It is very wretched for a saint of God to be always questioning whether he indeed be a saint, instead of walking on in the path of healthy service.
There is still another thing that I would desire to notice briefly, and that is the great basis of Christian humility. I mean that humility which a saint has because he is a saint, and not because he is a sinner. A sinner saved by grace ought indeed to be humble; but the humility which a saint has because he is a saint and an heir of glory is of a much deeper kind than that which is occasioned by the discovery of sin. Nothing will bring a soul so low, and make him willing to serve another in the meanest of service, as the consciousness of his standing before God. Mark the Lord Jesus Christ here: He stands forth in the conscious possession of all things—"All things are delivered unto Me of My Father." And yet He says, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." Can you put these two together? I believe you can; the soul of the really instructed saint discerns their needful connection. The Lord Jesus, in conscious possession of all things, could afford to humble Himself. What was it that enabled Him to do so but His real greatness, because God was caring for Him?—"Which thing is true in Him and in you." Nothing enables us to go and wash the saints' feet, to lay ourselves down to be trampled on, but the knowledge of our real greatness; we can then afford to be humbled; we can then afford to come down and minister to others, instead of wanting others to minister to us. A child of God needs not anything to add to his dignity, because of the dignity which is given him of God; he has all dignity, "all things" in Christ. This is the real power of truly humbling ourselves to serve others. That which will enable us to put ourselves lower than anything is the consciousness that "all things are yours;... and we are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
Well, I believe we shall find this real and abiding peace and rest to our souls in taking the "yoke" of Christ, in not "minding high things, but going along with the lowly" (Rom. 12:16; J.N.D. Trans.), in willingness to serve all saints—"If any man will be great among you, let him become the servant of all." "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
It is one of the happiest things to be thus a learner in the school of Christ.
The Holy Spirit, whose office and delight is to bring before the soul the Lord Jesus as our example, never does so without grounding us first in the faith of the work that He has done for us on the cross. But if there be a place of real blessing for the servant, it is that of being put in the place of his Master. He is what He is in Himself; we are what we are in Him.
Beloved, remember, if there is restlessness instead of rest, I would say, Is not something of your will, your own will, at work, and not the "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight"?