Rest in Christ


Matthew 11:28 is a great consolation when you slip into a mindset of works-salvation and are not enjoying spiritual rest in Christ.

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

What kind of statement is this? There are actually two kinds of statements here. First, Jesus speaks an invitation. Second, He speaks a promise. "Come to me," is Jesus' invitation. "I will give you rest," is His promise.

To whom is the promise made?

It is made to, "all who labor and are heavy laden." In the context of Jesus' ministry in Matthew, this refers to all who labor and are heavy laden in a spiritual sense. Now who in the world would be burdened in this way? People under the Old Covenant Law are burdened this way.

Those under the Law are burdened this way because the Law exposes sin but does not forgive sin. God's holy law shows us that we are sinners under judgement but provides no remedy, no escape. The law shows the problem of the misery of sin and death, but offers no solution. The Law brings only guilt, condemnation, and death. Jesus, on the other hand, brings forgiveness, justification, and life (see 2 Cor. 3 and Gal. 3). So of course, those under the law need spiritual rest! They need a remedy, a solution, a salvation from their bondage to the curse of sin and death under the law. And Jesus is that great salvation.

In common language, anyone in bondage to earning their way to God needs to hear Jesus' invitation. Anyone in slavery to working their way to God needs to hear Jesus' invitation. Anyone in the darkness of thinking that their obedience will win them God's favor needs to hear Jesus' invitation. Anyone who needs a Savior! Anyone who need forgiveness, justification, and spiritual life! Anyone who needs freedom from the law! These are the ones who must hear Jesus' invitation.

Why must they hear it?

What good will it do them? The good is: they will find rest in Christ.

Jesus promises, "I will give you rest." In Genesis 1 and 2, God works and then God rests. He completes His works to accomplish creation; then He rests from His works and enjoys the goodness of that creation. Do you feel, think, or act as if you must work for your salvation? Repent from that immediately and find rest in Christ. God is most glorified when sinners rest in Christ as their mighty Savior.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).

There is such a thing as "good works" for the Christian (e.g., 1 Tim. 6:18). But Christian good works are the FRUIT of salvation, not the ROOT. They are not the cause, but the effect of God's saving grace (Rom. 3:19-20).

Just as God did all the work to accomplish creation, He did all the work to accomplish your salvation. The work has been finished by Christ; praise the Lord! Do you need spiritual rest? You will only find it by looking to Christ for it on the basis of His finished work of salvation.

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:30).

Praise God for His righteous life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, heavenly ascension, and gracious giving of the Holy Spirit. You do not, dear friend, need to work your way to God. Rather, trust in Christ as your way to God. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6).

Are you weary, Christian?

Have you been laboring for God's favor rather than resting in Christ? That road leads only to grief, confusion, and despair.

Are you heavy laden -- that is, weighed down and almost crushed and crippled -- with your approach to Christian living?

Perhaps you are too focused on externals? Perhaps you have bought into manmade standards of obedience?

Perhaps you truly believe that God will not love or accept you unless you do enough works, unless you earn His favor.

This is not the way of resting in Christ by grace through faith. This is not the gospel road.

So today, please hear Jesus' invitation to Himself and the promise of rest in fellowship with Him.

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

How do I come to Him?

You come to Jesus by faith.

Call it belief, trust, faith, reliance, confidence, or any other synonym. Faith means looking away from yourself and looking to Christ as your only and all-sufficient source of Spiritual life, strength, and growth.

Faith does not go before God as if God needs something from you, but because you need something from God. You need it daily, deeply, and desperately. You need just as I need it, and just as Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul needed it. Need what? God's grace and power.

We first need God's saving grace to bring us salvation. Now we have an ongoing need for God's sanctifying grace to gradually cultivate holiness and kill sin in our hearts, minds, words, and lives.

Believe in Jesus. Trust in Jesus. If you come to Him this way, then by God's grace you will most certainly find rest for your soul. And this will be a rest that no person and no tragedy in the world can ever take away from you.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

by: Matt Fortunato