Rest for They that Labor and are Heavy Laden

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Jesus extends a graceful invitation to those whose faces are covered with sweat from hard work, and their necks are bending from the heavy heaps pressing down on their heads. But who are those people Jesus is seeking to help here? Though we are tempted to think of sinners, Jesus’ invitation was not sinners to be free from the weight of sin but to the religious to be delivered from the heaviness of religion. 

The Law, as given by God, was a heavy load by itself on the heads of the Jews. Peter said neither they nor their fathers could bear the yoke of the Law ( Acts 15:10). In addition to the burden of the Law, the religious leaders added more religious rules for the people to obey, adding more tons to the weight on the people. Jesus said the Pharisees bind heavy burdens on people, but they do not lift those burdens with one finger ( Matt. 23:4); these Pharisees took pleasure in making others obey difficult religious rules. So religious obedience to laws and commandments to find favor with God is hard work; it wearies the soul. 

Jesus offered rest in God through grace and not by the Law. Finding a loving and Father-child relationship in Christ by believing in His work frees us from the pressure of trying to measure up. Sadly, many believers still labor and carry heavy loads in their Christian lives either through the Law or the “traditions” of the Christian environment.

Stand fast in the freedom Christ has given you, and do not allow yourself or anyone else to put you under any religious yoke( Gal. 5:1).


What is the meaning of “labor” and “heaven laden,” as Jesus used it above?

Apply the Word

It is possible to be a child of God yet live as an enslaved person in His House. We live as enslaved people when we try to win God’s favor or approval by rules, whether rules from the Old Testament Law or our church or ministry traditions. God wants you to abound in good works, not the dead works of the Law.


Ask the Father to help you enjoy the rest He has given you in Christ.

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