To The Weary Heart, Jesus Says, Come Unto Me

Bible Book: Matthew  11 : 28-30
Subject: Comfort; Weariness; Jesus, Invitation of
Series: Invitations of Christ

Several years ago, one of the churches that I pastored supported a missionary who served on the island of Yap in Micronesia. And this missionary had come back to the States for a furlough. While he was here, he came to our church to update us on their mission work, and as he sat at our dining room table after the service, he began to share a story about the local culture in Yap.

A Micronesian family in Yap had come to visit in the missionaries’ home one day. They had arrived about midday and had stayed for several hours into the evening until they had run out of things to talk about. The situation had become rather uncomfortable when that evening, someone else dropped by to speak to the missionary. The missionary was so concerned about the situation with his other visitors that he asked this person about it. The other fellow told him that the culture dictated that they would not leave until they were asked to leave. To do otherwise for them would appear rude. Immediately the missionary went back in the house to the other visitors and said, “It’s time for you to leave,” after which everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

As we have studied various passages in the New Testament, we’re realizing that Christ is not inviting us to leave. Rather, He is inviting us to “Come!”

So far, we have considered the fact that…

1. To the Worn Out Heart, He says, “Come Forth,” as He did to Lazarus in John 11:43

We considered the fact that…

2. To the Wanting Heart, He says, “Come Down,” as He did to Zacchaeus in Luke 19:5

Last week, we considered the fact that…

3. To the Wondering Heart, He says, “Come And See,” as He did to John and Andrew in John 1:39

This morning, I want us to consider the fact that…

To the Weary Heart, He says, “Come Unto Me...” as He says in Matthew 11:28

Jesus said…

(Matthew 11:28-30) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jonathan Edwards spoke of the joy of this invitation by saying…

Christ says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” There is a sweet contentment in it; the soul that tastes it, desires no better pleasure. There is a satisfaction in it.

(From the Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2)

Martin Luther said…

He invites us … with the greatest kindness, as when He says in Matthew 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Now it is surely a sin and a shame that He so cordially and faithfully summons and exhorts us to our highest and greatest good, and we act so distantly with regard to it, and permit so long a time to pass … that we grow quite cold and hardened, so that we have no inclination or love for it. (From Martin Luther’s Large Catechism)

A. T. Robertson remarked about this passage that…

Verses 28 to 30 are not in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew’s Gospel. No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling and the burdened to come to him. He towers above all men as he challenges us. “I will refresh you.” Far more than mere rest, rejuvenation. (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

Another writer said…

Who has not thrilled under the mighty spell of those mighty words: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). In this invitation our Lord proclaims Himself to be everything to the soul.

(From The Fundamentals – Edited by R. A. Torrey)

As we look at this wonderful invitation of Jesus let’s …

I. Notice How Christ Portrays The Burdens Of Life

(Matthew 11:28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

A. He Referred To The Burdensome Labour (This Involves The Repetitious Efforts Of Worry)

labour – 2872. kopiao, kop-ee-ah'-o; from a der. of G2873 (toil that reduces strength, pains, labour, trouble, weariness); to feel fatigue; by implication it means to work hard:--(bestow) labour, toil, be wearied.

1. This Speaks To Those Who Are Tired Of The Labor

(The Exhaustion Of Labor)

2. This Speaks To Those Who Are Travailing In The Labor

(The Effort Of Labor)

For those who are trying to work your way into heaven, let me point you to …

(Romans 4:2-3) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. {3} For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

(Galatians 2:16) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

If you are repeatedly trying instead of trusting, come to Jesus!

B. He Referred To The Burdensome Load (This Involves The Religious Expectations Of Work)

heavy laden – Greek 5412. phortizo, for-tid'-zo; to load up something carried on an animal or to load cargo onto a ship or vessel, figuratively to overburden with ceremony or spiritual anxiety: -- lade, be heavy laden.

1. There Is The Picture Here Of An Overloaded Beast

2. There Is The Picture Here Of An Overloaded Boat

heavy laden – Greek NT:5412. phortizo, for-tid'-zo; to place a burden upon, to load, to load one with a burden (of rites and unwarranted precepts); ‎ pefortisménoi: ‘heavy laden’ (with the burdensome requirements of the Mosaic law and of tradition, and with the consciousness of sin). (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Warren Wiersbe said…

The Pharisees had laid many burdens on the people (Matthew 23:4), and their religion did not give rest and peace. No human religion can give peace to the heart. (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Cf. (Matthew 23:1-4) Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, {2} Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: {3} All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. {4} For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

If your religious experience produces worry instead of worship, come to Jesus!

John MacArthur wrote…

Weary (labour) … refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts. Heavy-laden (indicates) that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person. Whereas weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness.

II. Notice How Christ Provides The Balance of The Yoke

(Matthew 11:29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

A. His Purpose Is Seen In This Yoke – He Wants To Share Our Burden

1. The Yoke Brings The Idea Of Service To Mind

yoke – Greek 2218. zugos; from the root of zeugnumi (to join especially by a “yoke”); a coupling, i.e. (fig.) servitude a law or obligation); also (lit.) the beam of the balance (as connecting the scales):--pair of balances, yoke.

yoke – A crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft (load pulling) animals working together. A pair of draft animals, such as oxen, joined by a yoke. (American Heritage Dictionary)

This is a figure taken from the use of oxen, and hence signifying to labor for one, or in the service of anyone.

(Barnes’ Notes)

2. The Yoke Brings The Idea Of Schooling To Mind

A.T. Robertson said, “The rabbis used (the term) yoke for school as many pupils find it now a yoke.”

yoke – Greek NT:2218. In Lamentations 3:27 we find the pedagogic (educational, academic, school) insight that it is good for a man to bear the yoke in youth. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)

Cf. (Lamentations 3:27) It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

John MacArthur said…

A student was often spoken of as being under the yoke of his teacher, and an ancient Jewish writing contains the advice: “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.” That is the particular meaning Jesus seems to have had in mind here, because He adds, and learn from Me.

Jesus was inviting those who had been enrolled in the Pharisaical school of bondage and soul-slavery to transfer to a new school.

yoke – Greek NT:2218. zugo; a yoke; a. properly, such as is put on draught-cattle. b. metaphorically, used of any burden or bondage: as that of slavery; of troublesome laws imposed on one, especially of the Mosaic law, Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1; hence, the name is so transferred to the commands of Christ as to contrast them with the commands of the Pharisees which were a veritable ‘yoke.’ (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

(Acts 15:10) Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

(Galatians 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Strange paradox! that a man already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him, in order to be eased and find rest! (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)

When He says, “take my yoke upon you” He is not overburdening us more; rather He is alleviating our burden.

Spurgeon said…

So you see where you have to begin. “Come unto me,” saith Christ, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden” Matthew 11:28. By that he means, “Do not suppose that, because you are already labourers in another master’s service, you can wear my yoke. Do not imagine that, because you are already heavily laden, you can bear my burden. You must first get rid of that which now makes you labour, you must first be rid of that which is a burden to you, for ‘no man can serve two masters.’ Your old, toilsome labour must be done with, for no man can carry the double burden of his own guilt and of the service of God. That cannot be.” (Spurgeon’s Sermons)

B. His Personality Is Seen In This Yoke – He Wants To Sympathize With Our Burden

(Matthew 11:29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

1. He Is Gentle In Mind – Helpful

meek – Greek 4235. praios; gentle, i.e. humble:--meek.

meek – Greek NT:4239. praus or praos; denotes “gentle, mild, meek”; ‎it consists not in a person’s “outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul. It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ because he had the infinite resources of God at His command.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

2. He Is Gentle In Manner – Humble

lowly – Greek 5011. tapeinos; depressed, i.e. (fig.) humiliated (in circumstances or disposition):--base, cast down, humble, of low degree (estate), lowly. In this context it means “humble in spirit.”

A.T. Robertson wrote…

“Humility was not a virtue among the ancients. It was ranked with servility. Jesus has made a virtue of this vice. He has glorified this attitude so that Paul urges it (Philippians 2:3), in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

He has humble actions and a humble attitude. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m not too good to help you.”

(1 Peter 5:7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

III. Notice How Christ Promises The Blessing Of Rest

(Matthew 11:29-30) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A. Let’s Consider The Worth Of Christ’s Rest

1. There Is Improvement In The Rest He Gives

(Matthew 11:28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

rest (vs. 28) – Greek 373. anapauo; to repose (be exempt, remain); by implication it means to refresh:--take ease.

The word “rest” (is) the translation of a Greek word used in a manuscript of 103 B.C. as a technical term in agriculture. The writer speaks of a farmer resting his land by sowing light crops upon it. He relieved the land of the necessity of producing heavy crops, and thus gave it an opportunity to recuperate its strength. The word is used in Matthew 11:28 where our Lord says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” literally, “and I will rest you.” Here our Lord causes the sinner who comes to Him to cease from his own efforts at carrying his load of guilt and suffering, taking it upon Himself, allowing the believer in his new life powers to function as a child of God. (From Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament – 1 Peter 4:14)

Regenerative farming involves composting, crop rotation, and cover crops. Compost is the lifeblood of any organic farm. It is a mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients. Rotating through crops helps regenerate the soil. Organic waste left by one crop feeds the soil, helping the next one grow better. Cover crops are simply crops planted to help rejuvenate the soil when the farmer is between production crops. Cover crops like rye and buckwheat add nitrogen to the soil and helps recover nutrients to the soil. (From

I would say that Jesus follows a similar process in order to make us productive. He allows us to be exposed to a lot of rotten circumstances in order to improve our soul structure. He is diverse in what He is producing in the various fields of our lives. He is faithful to plant a cover crop of Himself regularly to recover strength in our souls.

2. There Is Intermission In The Rest He Gives

(Matthew 11:29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

rest (vs. 29) – Greek NT:372. anapausis; (1) intermission, cessation, of any motion, business, labor. (2) rest, recreation; blessed tranquility of soul – Matthew 11:29. (The word denotes a temporary rest, a respite, e. g. of soldiers.) (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Compare “I will give you” and “ye shall find.” The rest of Christ is twofold – given and found. It is given in pardon and reconciliation. It is found under the yoke and the burden; in the development of Christian experience, as more and more the “strain passes over” from self to Christ.

(Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament)

B. Let’s Consider The Way Of Christ’s Rest

1. His Way Is Superior

(Matthew 11:30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

easy – Greek 5543. chrestos; employed, by implication it means useful (in manner or morals): --better, easy, good (-ness), gracious, kind.

(“Easy” is) not a satisfactory rendering. Christ’s yoke is not easy in the ordinary sense of that word. The word means originally, “good, serviceable” (useful, helpful, practical, functional). Christ’s yoke is “wholesome, serviceable, and kindly.” (From Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies)

2. His Way Is Simpler

(Matthew 11:30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A little boy was helping his father to unpack some boxes of dry goods. His father took the pieces of goods from the box and put them on the outstretched arms of the boy. “Don’t you think you have load enough?” said someone passing by. “Father knows best. He knows how much I ought to carry,” replied the boy. How much trust and confidence it shows us. He knew that his father, who loved him, would not give him more than he could carry. And so it is with our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we think He is putting more on us than we can carry, and we become fretful. Sometimes He adds sorrow to sorrow until we think we cannot bear the load, but He knows best, and will not give us more than we can bear, for He is a kind and loving Father.

(From The Biblical Illustrator)

burden – Greek NT:5413. fortion; a burden, load: of the freight or lading of a ship. Metaphorically: of burdensome rites; of the obligations Christ lays upon his followers, and styles a ‘burden’ by way of contrast to the precepts of the Pharisees the observance of which was most oppressive, Matthew 11:30. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

light – Greek NT:1645. elafron; light in weight, quick, agile; light ‎is used figuratively concerning the commandments of Jesus, easy to be kept, Matthew 11:30. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

It is light in the sense that a sailboat is light when it is conveyed on the water and pushed by the wind.


Charles Price Jones was a black, holiness preacher who was born in Floyd County in 1865 and grew up in Kingston, Georgia. He started out as a Baptist, but in the late 1890’s he helped to found the Church of Christ Holiness movement. He wrote over 1000 songs and hymns, but one in particular has a special connection to the invitation of Jesus. It says…

Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,

“Oh, ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;

Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,

Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”


Come unto Me, I will give you rest;

Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;

I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;

Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.

There is an old phrase that says, “No rest for the weary.” But Jesus said that there is if you will come to Him!

Alternative closing illustration: Pastor helping me with luggage after a sleepless night and a tiring flight to Orlando.