Jesus Says, “I Will Give You Rest” not “I Will Give You More Burdens”

Many say the foundational passage of the New Testament is John 3:16. Even young children can quote it:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I love that passage—even though many have corrupted what it says by adding misguided subtexts to it, so that when they read or quote the verse it comes out more like:

God so loved the world [though he can’t bear to look at us because of our sin] that he gave his one and only Son [to suffer and die on the cross in our place and take the punishment for our sins], that whoever believes in him [and prays the sinner’s prayer] shall not perish [in the eternal fires of hell] but have eternal life [in heaven].

The words in brackets are often assumed but are not present in, or even implied by, the verse. Never-the-less, I love John 3:16!

Jesus’ Wonderful Invitation to All of Us

Jesus-without-baggage-REST

Yet I believe the passage that reveals the heart of the New Testament is in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Both passages touch my heart and draw me toward Jesus, yet the first (as used by many believers) seems almost doctrinal—describing what God did, while the second is invitational—inviting me to accept what Jesus offers. In introducing Jesus to those who might be interested in him, I prefer to use Jesus’ own invitation; I believe it is applicable to all people at all times. Practically everyone desires relief from inner weariness and the burdens of life. Almost all of us want rest.

In his report, Matthew does not leave out the Father and his relationship to Jesus because the statement is preceded by:

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Jesus Does not Attach Conditions to His Invitation

In the invitation, Jesus offers us rest for our ‘souls’ and begins to introduce us to the Father. We are pleased to learn that Jesus is gentle and humble in heart; he is no tyrant or overlord who has something we need but who will exact a price from us for it. His motives are pure. He is approachable. We do not need be on our guard with him. We need not grovel. He is gentle; he is accepting; he is safe.

To whom does Jesus make this invitation? It is to everyone! Come to me, ALL you who are weary and burdened’—unless, I suppose, one is not weary or burdened. There are no preconditions. There is no creed or doctrinal statement mentioned. There is no screening out of certain types of people. There is not even a sinner’s prayer or ‘accepting Jesus into your heart’.

There is only Jesus and his invitation: I will give you rest.’

Learning of Jesus

Jesus adds that those coming to him should take his yoke upon them and learn from him to find rest for their souls, but he goes on to say that his yoke is easy and his burden light.

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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Following Jesus is not without any commitment at all; once we accept Jesus’ invitation, we will begin to learn of him, and he tells us important things that affect our lives, but they are not onerous requirements. This is no trick. We will not discover that accepting Jesus’ invitation ultimately involves lists of rules or demands. We will not have to accept beliefs that are contrary to our own reason. In fact, there are no doctrinal requirements at all—only rest from weariness and burdens, and learning from Jesus.

Jesus Does not Load Us with Burdens as Some Suppose

Jesus promises to relieve our burdens, not to increase them. Much of the problem with traditional Christianity is the burden it puts on its members—from  requirements of specific rules and behavior to requirements of doctrinal creeds. These are all baggage; they are not the requirements of Jesus.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Consider Jesus’ invitation. We explore the wonderful ramifications of this invitation on this blog. Do you find Jesus’ invitation appealing? I do. I am glad Jesus’ invitation is for me—and for you.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

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19 Responses to Jesus Says, “I Will Give You Rest” not “I Will Give You More Burdens”

  1. Growing up, there was a huge disconnect between my father’s hyper-Calvinism and clear words of Scripture. I would ask why Jesus would offer salvation to “all” while in Calvinist thought Jesus only came for a select few. In essence, God/Jesus was lying. He wasn’t offering it to all since he had already decided that only some would receive it. That seems like the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard.

    Furthermore, I’ve been thinking about this yoke passage quite a bit lately. Jesus’ yoke is light, right? Evangelicals saddle Christians with the salvation of every human being on Earth and in history. That’s a huge and very heavy yoke, right? They act like if we don’t work to reach every tribal person in the furthest jungle, that we aren’t doing our jobs. But is that why we were told to do? Or were we told to come into Jesus’ rest and be lights here and now, where we are? Why can’t we trust that God has this handled?

    Lastly, I agree about the additions to Jon 3:16. So many Christians add more to it, and even ignore the verses directly after it. The very next verse specifically says that Jesus came into the world to save the world, not condemn it. However, most evangelicals use John 3:16 as a warning, not a proclamation of good news.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog, you raise some very good points. And having been a fundamentalist/evangelical for about 30 years, I am amazed, along with you, at how much many of them put heavy burdens on believers.

      You said: “I agree about the additions to Jon 3:16. So many Christians add more to it, and even ignore the verses directly after it. The very next verse specifically says that Jesus came into the world to save the world, not condemn it. However, most evangelicals use John 3:16 as a warning, not a proclamation of good news.”

      Thanks for mentioning that just after John 3:16 that we are told that Jesus came into to world to save it–NOT CONDEMN IT. I think you are absolutely on target.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing the good news of the gospel, that it’s ALL about Jesus and NOT about us! 😀 . . . And, me too, I love those verses from Matthew 11! I think they describe our Lord Jesus so well, so succinctly. After I got saved, I slugged through 15 years of being burdened by ‘works’, but I am thankful that I went through those years of being a ‘modern Pharisee.’ because the message of His REST means so much to me now. “For we who have believed enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:3).

    Rejoicing in Jesus with any baggage!!! 💃🏽 Your sister, Lisa.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Mom, I don’t know what kind of freedom you advocate but you sound like a great mom to me! You said: “After I got saved, I slugged through 15 years of being burdened by ‘works’, but I am thankful that I went through those years of being a ‘modern Pharisee.’ because the message of His REST means so much to me now.”

      I had a very similar experience, and I am not sorry about it either, but thankful. I feel as though I understand that old perspective pretty well and am therefore able to help those who are questioning it. I imagine you can do the very same thing.

      I am glad you shared your thoughts here and hope it might be the first of many times…!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you!! Well, to be clear, our freedom in Christ is certainly NOT a freedom to sin. Believers take no delight in lawlessness. It is a freedom to be loved and be accepted by my God! To totally rejoice in His kindness towards me; to talk to Him continually because He is truly my best friend; it is a freedom to receive His love and all that entails (every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus!), and to allow Him to change my heart to the point where (miraculously) I can now love others! And, yes, that definitely includes my three teenagers! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Dennis Wade says:

    Tim, I love this post!
    It is so true that we have attached so many conditional requirements unto such a beautiful and simple declaration of God’s love. And it does make Matthew 11:28 stand out in contrast.
    I was watching a Rob Bell video on Youtube the other day, and he told an interesting story about this very verse. In those days there was no one definitive interpretation to scripture. Each rabbi would study and pray in order to form his own interpretation of what scripture meant, and would spend his life defending this interpretation in argument with other rabbis. He would also teach this interpretation to his disciples. Rob Bell pointed out that the word for this personal interpretation of scripture translates as “yoke”, indicating that it was like a burden that the rabbi would carry for the rest of his life, and that to be a disciple of a rabbi meant to be “yoked” or bound to this burden of defending your rabbi’s interpretation of scripture.
    So when Jesus states that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, in effect He was telling His disciples that His teachings of God and the nature of God and God’s requirements of us would be a thing of delight and would lay no heavy burdens upon us when compared to the very heavy burden of requirements that other rabbis laid upon their disciples.
    Trying to appease God, to win His approval, and to be good enough is indeed a very heavy burden of anxiety and fear, and we become weary of it all. Such a relief to be told by Jesus that we are loved and accepted just as we are!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I really like your explanation: “So when Jesus states that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, in effect He was telling His disciples that His teachings of God and the nature of God and God’s requirements of us would be a thing of delight and would lay no heavy burdens upon us when compared to the very heavy burden of requirements that other rabbis laid upon their disciples.”

      And I also totally agree with you observation: “Trying to appease God, to win His approval, and to be good enough is indeed a very heavy burden of anxiety and fear, and we become weary of it all. Such a relief to be told by Jesus that we are loved and accepted just as we are!”

      Well said!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chas says:

    Tim, a yoke can mean two things. One is a device to put across the shoulders to take the stress off the arms when carrying buckets of water, or milk. The other is a device that fits across the chest of oxen to attach them to a plough, or waggon. Matthew seems to have meant the first, and he might well have had some experience, since the yoke was made of wood, and if it didn’t fit you very well, it would hurt and rub blisters, until you had formed callouses to lessen the pain. So this passage is giving a two-fold message. One is that the yoke itself is easy, i.e. it fits well. The second is that the load itself is easy to carry. I remember taking comfort from this passage, since it told me that things were not going to be too bad while serving God. However, in recent years I have had more comfort from a saying of my Dad’s: If you don’t suffer anything worse than that, you will not do too badly. (It was actually said in his broad Lincolnshire, with a double negative, so this is the refined version.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chas says:

      Tim, this is a follow up to my above comment, I have looked through Matthew’s Gospel in the light of his probably having experience with a yoke and it has come up with a surprise, many of the extras that his gospel has are about farming: ‘like sheep without a shepherd;’ The harvest is plentiful, but the harvesters are few;’ ‘the man who sowed good seed;’ ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field;’ ‘The kingdom of heaven being like a landowner who hired workers for his vineyard;’ ‘The man with two sons whom he asked to work in his vineyard;’ and ‘The sheep and goats.’ This suggests that Matthew had farming experience, even to the extent of being the son of a farmer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Another good insight! Though many think Matthew might have been a tax collector, that doesn’t mean he was raised a tax collector. It makes good sense to me that he was experienced in farming. Thanks!

        Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I think that is a good insight–the yoke itself is easy and load is easy as well. This is a very good image in regard to what Jesus said. Your father seems to have been a wise person as well.

      Like

  5. tonycutty says:

    This is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. You do realise I’m going to have to reblog this, don’t you? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ken Hogan says:

    You blessed my life today by sharing this.

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Jesus Says, “I Will Give You Rest” not “I Will Give You More Burdens” | Flying in the Spirit

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