Finding Rest While You Carry Your Burdens

Matthew 11:20-30

Jerry A Collins




v                 How does repentance fit into our relationship with Christ?

v                 Why is revelation significant in our knowledge of God?

v                 When can someone receive the easy yoke and light load?


When you look around at the burdened mass of humanity, burdened with guilt, shame, rage, hate, revenge, selfishness, murder, rape, lies, jealousy—at the root of it all is sin. Sin that separates us from God—sin that makes the soul weary and life a burden. All religions are involved in a cover-up—that is, to hide the sin and devise a scheme to assist people to restore their relationship with God not by repentance but by reformation. Follow a set of rules here—participate in ceremonies there, and work off the burden you have. That is what the Pharisees did in Jesus day. They burdened the people with submission to the Law as enforced by their regulations. Jesus way was not a burden but a rest if you were willing to receive Him, His message and ministry. In fact, the way to find spiritual rest for the soul is to believe in Jesus Christ. In order to do that you must repent. The fundamental issue in religion for the world is what to think about Jesus Christ. Here we discover the struggle to do just that for people.


It does not bode well for these cities and this is a metonymy meaning that cities, is for people in them. The three cities or groups of people are Chorazin, Bethsaida—here Jesus had called some of his disciples, and Capernaum, the home of Jesus and Peter. Each of these cities located on the north to NW side of the sea of Galilee within only a few miles of each other. Jesus began to reproach the cities 1. Reproach is used to implicate these people—they are to blame. They are to blame since Jesus had done very many mighty works amongst them. He had spent a good deal of time in these towns and they were glad to hear him, be healed by him, fed by him—they had even wanted to make him a king. This period of Jesus ministry has been called the Greater Galilean Ministry spending a year and a half of his ministry there—most likely at the peak of his popularity. “Woe” indicates impending doom! Like Isaiah when he saw the Glory of God’s revelation and cried Woe is me, I am undone! That is a proper response to divine revelation—lamenting one’s uncleanness, sinfulness. Jesus rarely got this response in Galilee so now He announces impending doom. The accusation comes because after all of this evidence they refused to repent. There was much more to the miracles than just feeding faces or political stumping. They were signs to point to salvation and that began with repentance not admiration. The fact is, people enjoy religion if it gives them what they want or provides the comfort they desire—but repentance is not one of these. So Jesus draws a contrast with Tyre and Sidon 21-22. If these miracles were done here on the Mediterranean coast—a place of pagan idolatry, where though worshipping false gods, at least they knew they had some kind of spiritual need—if they had had clearer revelation from Jesus miracles, even though idolaters and pagans, for the year or so these other cities had, they would have repented. And done so in sackcloth and ashes a phrase indicating sincerity. The indictment is that judgment will be more bearable for the pagans than it will be for the Jews in these cities on the day of judgment. And the same goes for Capernaum 23 who had this same revelation—these people will not be exalted to heaven as they had thot but shall descend to hades. Instead they would be eternally punished. If these powerful and numerous miracles had happened even in Sodom—wicked and idolaters—God would not have destroyed them. Their judgment would have been much more bearable than will be Capernaum’s—Jesus hometown—in the day of judgment.

1. There is a day of judgment—a day of accounting and reckoning for every human being. Many will perish forever because of it.

2. There are degrees of punishment in the judgment based upon the amount of revelation—the light one has. God is aware of how much information people have of the truth and takes that into account in their judgment. Most severe for those with most information. More revelation, more responsibility, more judgment.

3. The self-righteous orthodox person, the religiously pious person, is even more repulsive in God’s sight than the idolatrous, immoral pagan. These cities of Jews were not idolatrous, pagan, or sexually perverted, but they ignored and rejected Jesus and that qualified them for severe judgment Jesus says. Think about the people who use religion to clean themselves up and ignore the very Word of God Jesus gave. Religion will not save anyone but will severely condemn them on that day.


Jesus praises the Father—the One who is Lord of heaven and earth. So Jesus stresses two things: a. His intimate relationship with the Father—sharing the divine nature b. Father’s sovereignty—Lord of heaven and earth. As sovereign He hides these things from the wise and intelligent and did reveal them to babes 25. These things refers to the words and works of Jesus hidden in sense of comprehending their significance because of their unwillingness to believe what they communicated. But revealed in sense of comprehending to those babes—one’s humble open and trusting what was revealed. You can be wise but you won’t be able to get to God. You need revelation for that. This plan vs 26 is well-pleasing in the site of the Father. It weeds out the self-righteous who use their sophisticated religious systems and in their pride claim spiritual insight, from the humble, the broken, the repentant. This plan vs 27 was handed to Jesus in the sense of the incarnation which put all of it into motion. He alone is qualified to do so because of the intimate relationship existing between them. Jesus alone is the full revelation of God and the Father revealed the truth to them and us through His Son (Jn 6:37; 44). So there is a sovereign side to salvation—no-one knows the Father apart from revelation of the Son. Many have a perception of God but they cannot truly know God and have nothing to do with Jesus Christ His Son who reveals the grace and love of God that provides payment for our sin.

3. ETERNAL REST IS ONLY IN JESUS CHRIST 28-30      If you come to Me 28—this is the call of faith. You do not need to be judged but can find spiritual rest. The revelation had been given to the wise and was rejected but the invitation is now to the weak and weary-laden. Those who have undertaken burdens and those who have had burdens laid on them—this burden included the traditions of the Pharisees and scribes (Mt 23:4). Their regulations wearisome. Jesus promise is to come and I will give you rest. Rest for the soul makes burdens light. Relief from guilt, forgiveness of sin, guarantee of salvation. Then follow and learn the way of faith in Jesus Take my yoke upon you 29 a figure for yielding to authority—submitting to His revelation—exchanging yokes. Submit to Jesus as your religious authority in place of current Jewish leaders or your religious traditions. Turn from having your spiritual needs met there any longer. Jesus yoke is comfortable, well-suited, tailored to the needs of His people. While He bears the burden, we can have rest for our souls 30.

1. The choice is between religious enforcement and burden bearing of wearisome man-made, rules and still remain condemned or coming to Jesus in faith and being forgiven.     2. To ask unbelievers to trust their whole spiritual lives to Christ—believing in Him as God and Savior, repent of sins, accept forgiveness & begin life of discipleship. 3. Tell people who Jesus is, what He said and what He has promised & how to respond.