REST, GIVEN AND FOUND
T. PIERCE BROWN
Surely every preacher has preached on Matthew 11:28, 29, “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.” Far fewer have noted the difference in the construction of the phrase in the original, “I will give you rest” and “ye shall find rest.” Jesus literally said, “I will rest you,” using the verb form. When he said, “Ye shall find rest,” he used the noun.
It is probable that the construction of the sentence is more meaningful than we would presume on a mere cursory reading. The emphatic form of “I will rest you” would suggest that he is calling attention to the fact that he, as the one to whom the Father had delivered all things (v. 27) is the one who is willing to give a special kind of rest to those who come to him.
This rest that he gives includes, but is not limited to, rest from the guilt, burden and power of sin. It is a result of a relationship with Christ, and one is given it immediately when he comes into that relationship. It is in Christ that every spiritual blessing is found (Ephesians 1:3). This is why it so important for us to know and teach what the Bible says about how to get into Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians3:26-27). When Jesus says, “I will rest you,” the emphasis is on what he gives when you come.
When he says, “Ye shall find rest,” the emphasis is on what we find as we continue fellowship with him. We may note that it is after we have taken his yoke upon us and learned from him. It is not merely, as the Authorized Version puts it, “of him” or “about him” but “from him.” The reason he gives for taking his yoke and learning from him is that he is meek and lowly. When a person learns from Christ how to be meek and lowly, he will find rest. That includes rest from frustrated and misguided ambitions, rest from striving to gain worthless worldly treasures of any sort, rest from the multitude of things that worry us. This includes the peace that passes understanding that Paul mentions in Philippians 4:7. He also mentions that his yoke is easy and his burden is light as one of the reasons we find rest. That rest may well include the rest we read of in Hebrews 4:9 that remains for the people of God and of which Paul speaks in 2 Thessalonians 1:7.