Read Matt 11:28-30.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Today, I want to talk about rest. We all need rest.
There are 4 types of people in this chapter who are in serious need of rest.
1) Rest for those in ministry
2) Rest for the doubters
3) Rest for those who are suffering
4) Rest for the sinner
1) Rest for those in ministry
1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
The disciples had just returned from preaching in the towns of Galilee in the previous chapter. If you were a disciple and you were excited about meeting this man, Jesus, because your life was transformed, where would you go first? You’d probably go to your hometown to tell your family and closest friends. Right? The disciples return from being sent out in v1. There’s a debriefing session and what does Jesus do? He gives the disciples some instruction. A Bible study. And right after finishing, Jesus goes back to the very same towns to teach and preach. Why is he going back?
Recall what Jesus said in another passage that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. In your hometown, everyone knows you. They saw you in diapers. You’re familiar. And so when Jesus was thirty, he went back to his hometown and announced, hey, it’s me, Jesus. And oh by the way, I’m the Son of God. How do you think that kind of news flied in his hometown?
It’s like me telling my brother Jason, God loves you. And he could say, but aren’t you the guy who put Stephen King novels under my pillow at night when I was in kindergarten? It’s harder for us to tell our own family about God’s love because they know us, warts and all. The disciples probably went back to their hometown and said, hey, we met this man named Jesus and he chose us to be apostles and we are leaving everything to follow him. How do you think the friends and family reacted to this news? Hey, stay away from that weirdo. Just come home and eat your dinner. It doesn’t say explicitly in the text that the disciples returned from being sent out discouraged. But I bet they were because Jesus spent time instructing them right after they had returned and I suspect Jesus was encouraging them through the Word of God. A prophet has no honor in his hometown. Fellas, the same thing that happened to you is going to happen to me. Don’t be surprised. Let’s go back and preach together in the same towns of Galilee.
The disciples had just returned from a preaching circuit. They probably returned discouraged from all the rejections. Or, at the very least, they were probably exhausted. If you have ever preached or taught Bible study, you know how exhausting it can be. And it’s not like they were just preaching machines and they left right after the sermon was over. They probably stayed and ministered to people. Every person is a bundle of needs. And so you can’t keep looking down at your watch while you are ministering to someone. It takes active listening, compassion, being all there for the person, giving them your undivided attention. If I am talking to someone and I’m thinking about the Eagles and how they have a 3 and 3 record and why are they struggling and my mind is wandering while I am ministering to someone, I’m not really ministering. One person can require a tremendous amount of physical, mental and emotional energy. They were probably spent. Their tanks were probably running on empty. But one Bible study and they are back on the road. Being with Jesus must have been exhilarating. They witnessed miracles, healings, salvations. But it must have been exhausting. Exhilarating but exhausting.
This idea is in line with v12–
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
You can think of Christian life as a war in which the enemy forces are too strong and they are advancing against the church. And this here is our foxhole. Our fortress. We have to retreat and minimize the casualties.
Or, we can be forceful men and women aggressively advancing the kingdom of God and rolling back darkness with the light of Jesus. Taking back lost territories where Satan has ruled for far too long and claiming it for Jesus. Your campus, this city, pressing in and taking hold of those areas with fervent prayer and active disciple making.
Preaching and teaching is tiring. Ministering to even one soul is tiring. Forcefully advancing God’s kingdom is not a stroll through the park. It’s all out war and it requires all in commitment. And because this is the nature of being a kingdom citizen, Christian life is tiring. And so it is no accident that Jesus ends this chapter with rest. Those involved with people and preaching and ministry and evangelism need rest.