“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matt 11:28-30”.
The text from Matthew 11:28-30 has been used frequently in calling sinners to Jesus Christ, offering them freedom from their bondages, salvation and rest.
Today, however let us look at this passage in a different light – I want you to see it as a call from Jesus to work with Him. The picture of a yoke (and oxen) speaks of ploughing a field or of drawing a cart. Oxen are placed under a yoke only for work. Jesus is calling you to work with Him, to learn from Him and to find rest in the process. You are not called to work alone, you will be working with Jesus and doing His work. Instead of labouring and being heavy laden as with any yoke, the work of Jesus will bring rest and refreshing.
I have noticed that in my past four ministry trips to the Philippines, I have gone in tired and weary (I hold a full time job and did experience much spiritual warfare prior to leaving) but have come out rested and refreshed – in fact, I returned from the Philippines in a better spiritual state than when I went in. There seems to be something about the work of Christ that, instead of wearing one out, brings rest.
Let us look, as usual, at the Word to understand more about the work that Jesus calls us to.
1. Philippians 2:30 “because for the work of Christ, he came close to death……”
2. Acts 13:2 “…now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
3. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed,……”
4. 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers…..”
5. 1 Corinthians 3:13, 14 “……the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.”
6. 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured (worked) more abundantly than they all,……..”
7. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
What is the work of Christ ?
I believe it is preaching the gospel, making disciples, building Jesus’ church and doing the works that Jesus did such as destroying the works of the devil, healing the sick and casting out demons.
Paul said that the ministry he received was to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world and to preach the gospel and to make disciples (Mark 16:15-18 and Matthew 28:19,20). He also said that he was building his church (Matt 16:18). Mark’s gospel ends with a lovely phrase in 16:20 – “and the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Paul speaks of Christ working mighty signs and wonders through him as he went about preaching the gospel (Romans 15:18,19). In 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, we are admonished to take care how we build and also that our work will be tested with fire to see of what sort it is. We see people like Paul and Epaphroditus who dedicated their entire lives to the work of Christ, one came close to death because of that, while Paul gave up his life in the process. We see that while Jesus calls all of us to work with Him, some are called to engage in the work full time and be supported by other believers, while others like Paul, work and support themselves. In this work, while it is open to all and everyone has a specific task, there are some who are called to specific areas of service or functions such as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. All are equal in God’s eyes and each one will receive a reward for the work they have done.
Today, Jesus calls you to partner with Him in His work. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Will you respond?