“Come to Me all those labouring and being burdened and I will refresh you. Take (imperative) My yoke upon you and learn from Me that I am humble and lowly of heart and you will obtain rest in your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
There are two calls here; one to come and one to take up His yoke. In the first He promises that He will refresh you, anapauso in Greek. This verb is sometimes translated as “rest” but it is only in the middle voice where the verb means “rest” and here it is in the active; as a noun it is translated as “rest”. This refreshment is reconciliation with God and is the first step on that path to which we have been called. Our spirits are quickened and our lives are refreshed.
The second call is to take up His yoke; His yoke was submission of His will in this world to the desires of the Father, by which He was “perfected in obedience”. When we take up the yoke it means that we, too, give up the self life of self consciousness, self awareness and self esteem and, instead, rest completely in Christ consciousness, Christ awareness and Christ esteem. Rest cannot be found except in Him; there is no rest apart from being IN Him. Rest is as easy to lose as it is hard to find, and yet the finding of it is easy were it not for our fragile, carnal nature.
Maintaining the rest that is received when we come to Him is the challenge. That rest can only come from abiding in Him – the absolute surrender of the self will and the individual allegiance of the whole heart, soul and mind. Taking and bearing and never laying aside His yoke – that is abiding. As He abided in the Father, so must we in Him. Abiding is to find at last that He lives in our souls, where the power of His grace is stronger than the weakness of our flesh; where there is a continuous flow of grace and divine power to strengthen and sustain us.
The only way our souls can find rest is to follow Jesus in humility and obedience. His yoke is easy and His burden light, for as soon as the soul yields itself to obey, the Spirit of God enables and empowers us, giving us the strength not only to do what He demands, but to rejoice in the doing of it; He never asks anything of us for which He does not provide the enablement.
The Holy Spirit is God’s great gift to us. If the Holy Spirit does not teach us, we can never know; if the Holy Spirit does not bring light, we must remain in darkness; if the Holy Spirit does not touch our ears we can never hear; if the Holy Spirit does not open our eyes we can never see. Surrender to Christ releases the Holy Spirit to do His work in us; it is the invitation that He waits for and longs to hear. As the scripture says; “The Spirit He placed in us is longing with jealousy” (James 4:5).