The Proposal and Promise
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:29
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me." The yoke is the symbol of subjection and obedience. The Jews wore the yoke of Moses. And we by nature wear the yoke of Satan and of sin. We are all under a yoke, but Jesus proposes that we change masters. Be my disciples, take your place at my feet, and learn of me. I will teach you doctrines, such as are suited to your state, and calculated to purify, elevate, and fill you with joy and peace! I will teach you to believe to the saving of the soul. I will instruct you to do the will of God from the heart. I will teach you to suffer with patience, fortitude, and hope. I will show you how to die in peace, and with a blissful assurance of immortality. Be my servants, admit my authority, receive my word, aim to please me.
"I am meek and lowly of heart." I am not austere or unfeeling; but full of sympathy and love! I condescend to the lowest, I cast out none! Come, learn my character. Come, prove my promises. Come, try my service.
"You shall find rest unto your souls." There is no rest in the world. There is no repose in the service of sin. There is no peace to the sinner, while distant from Jesus. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked." But Jesus promises peace, and he gives rest to every one who takes and wears his yoke. Such find rest from those anxious, perplexing, and troublesome thoughts, which others are tried with, and cannot conquer. Such as, "Is there a God? What is his character? What is eternity? Can I be saved? How can I be accepted of God?"
The disciples of Jesus know the Father; they rejoice in His character; they anticipate eternity as an infinite duration of pleasure and joy; they know the way of salvation, and walk in it; and they feel the comfort of being accepted of God in the Beloved. They rest on the revelation which God has given. They rest in the knowledge and enjoyment of truth. They rest by faith, and rejoice in hope.
They find rest from guilty fears, which arise and revel in the breasts of others. They look to the blood of Jesus, and obtain pardon; they trust in the word of promise, and feel safe; they draw near to God and enjoy fellowship.
They rest from burdensome services, for what was once a toil — becomes a pleasure; what was felt to be a servant's duty — is enjoyed as the privilege of a beloved child. The very precepts seem to change their character, and only require what the soul approves, desires, and ardently longs to perform.
They find rest for the affections, on a worthy, suitable, and proper object; God in Christ is all they can desire or enjoy; and when the affections are fixed upon Him, they are satisfied, delighted, and fully employed.
They find repose for their hopes; they may expect until expectation can stretch no further, and yet there is more to be possessed and realized! They feel, that beneath the anchor of their hope — there is a rock which will hold it firm forever, and secure it amidst all the storms and tempests of this mortal life. They see through the looking-glass of the word, and see stretched before them, the promised land, on which the sun of righteousness never sets, in which the fruits and flowers never fade or die; where the inhabitants never say, "I am sick," and whose glory is the perpetual presence of its God!
They find rest from anxious, worldly cares; the promises and providence of God being engaged for them! God himself being their Father, and Jesus, their Advocate, being before the throne, they feel that they can exercise implicit confidence in his care and kindness. And they manage their affairs in faith, looking up to the Lord in prayer, and expecting his sanction and blessing.
The thirst for happiness, which is common to man — they find gratified; and the water which Jesus gives, which is the Holy Spirit — quenches, or rather satisfies this thirst, and they have within them a spring of living water; so that, as the wise man says, "The good man is satisfied from himself."
In a word, they enjoy a general satisfaction of soul; they have in Jesus all they can want, they receive from Jesus all that they need, they enjoy in the presence of Jesus' comfort beyond anything they ever found in the world, and look forward to the future, rejoicing that the present is the worst state they will ever be in — for before them all is bright and glorious!
Well, reader, what do you say to the Savior's proposal? Will you accept it? How will you treat the meek and lowly Savior? He only seeks your welfare and your happiness. Will you try his yoke? Refuse it — and you will have an eternity to repent of it. But then, repentance will be useless, and without relief.