“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 RSV
There is positively no other way to know God except through Christ (John 14:6).
In a practical sense, this means that the New Testament is the only source of accurate knowledge of God in matters pertaining to salvation; for, of all the books on earth, there is not another source, save only the New Testament, of the teachings of Christ.
The positive, unqualified uniqueness of the New Testament is more and more apparent with the passing of each generation.
THE GREAT INVITATION
Again we have in this place, and in Matthew 11:27 preceding, words from Christ which demand that we hail him as God Incarnate, or a fool.
That only HE knows the FATHER, that he will give all the weary rest, that only those may know God to whom Christ reveals him – these are all statements that cannot be reconciled with ordinary man.
These last three verses of Matthew 11 are called the Great Invitation.
Those invited are “all ye that labor and are heavy laden.”
Christ’s teaching has a special appeal for the poor, the downtrodden, the despised, rejected, and suffering of earth; but it is incorrect to assume that only these are invited.
Rather, all people are invited to fly unto Jesus for peace and redemption; and, in one sense or another, at one time or another, by some means or another, every soul ever born into this world is “weary,” “heavy laden,” and troubled by the common sorrows and calamities to which flesh is heir.
In this larger view of the unmitigated sorrow in which all men dwell, the Great Invitation excludes no one.
The common burden of sin, sickness, death, doubt, disillusionment, and sorrow is an invariable heritage of every man coming into the world.
Reasons why men should come to Christ are:
(1) for the rest he will give
(2) for the rest they will find
(3) because Christ is meek and lowly in heart, thus fully qualified to provide sympathy, love, understanding, and whatever else may be required to alleviate human distress and to provide eternal life.
The means of accomplishing all this is the “yoke” of Christ.
What is that?
Christ’s metaphor here is best understood by those who have journeyed to those lands where yokes are still found upon men’s shoulders.
In Pusan, this writer once saw a Korean Papa-San struggling up an inclined road with an incredibly large burden of hay. The progression of that haystack up that road appeared absolutely impossible, until investigation revealed the secret.
The worker was using an “A-frame,” padded, and fitted across his shoulders. The long sides of the “A” came down almost to the ground, and the cross member formed the span across his shoulders.
The hay was ingeniously rigged on the frame. By placing his shoulders in the proper place, by stooping down and bending his knees, the worker could lift the whole load by straightening up.
He would then stagger a few steps forward; and, when exhausted, he would flex his knees, stoop slightly, and rest the entire load on the ground.
After resting a moment he would proceed, and in that manner moved the whole load half a mile!
Now that “A-frame” itself was a burden, but it was the burden that enabled him to carry an immensely greater burden which would have been impossible without the “A-frame.”
They can carry whatever burdens of sorrow, misfortune, disease, or mortality that may come upon them – burdens which, if undertaken without his “yoke,” would surely crush the unfortunate attempting to carry his burden alone.
It only remains to inquire, “How may men take Christ’s yoke upon them?”
This is done, as he said, by those who “learn” of him. This refers to hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.
That such is surely a burden or “yoke,” none may deny; but it is a burden which makes all other burdens light.