Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

81. CAN THE YOKE OF JESUS GIVE YOU REST?

How can any kind of yoke give you rest, particularly the yoke of Jesus Christ?  After all, Jesus wants you to get alongside Him, harnessed to one side of His yoke, and pull together with Him in the great struggle between God and Satan. 

A theme that underlies the entire ministry of Jesus Christ is the apocalyptic assumption that God is battling Satan for all creation and the souls of all mankind.  Jesus understood himself to be the one in whom this battle was to be played out in a decisive way.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and establish God’s domain.  By the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, all creation was redeemed from the bondage of evil and each soul was offered redemption from the bondage of sin.  But Satan was not a willing seller and is at war with God to retain possession.  The outcome of the struggle was completely decided by the substitutionary atonement; yet few would claim Jesus has already restored and repossessed his corrupted creation.  The world, at every level, is at war.  Christians are on the front lines of this Great War between good and evil whether we like it or not.  As we stand side by side with Jesus in this war, yoked together with Him, the suffering of the Christian soldier has a meaning and value to God commensurate with this titanic spiritual struggle of the ages.  How can this this titanic spiritual struggle possibly be construed as rest?

Yet Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28-30:

 

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.

 

First, this does not mean physical rest for your human body.  Those who have received the great gift of salvation do not suddenly develop great physical stamina.  Nor are they miraculously relieved from the necessity of labor.  Jesus did not say you would find rest for your body.  He said you would find rest for your soul which, prior to salvation, is in bondage to Satan.  Let us take a journey along the path of salvation to see how this transpires.  Perhaps this is your journey.

The human soul may be thought of as a large mansion with many wings, many stories and thousands of rooms.  The intellect encompasses a large wing in the mansion where logic, reason and abstract thought take place.  The “will” is a single command and control center where moral decisions are made; information from other rooms is sent to the “will” for the decision making process.  The “heart” comprises thousands of rooms; each room represents one or more attributes given to us by God when He made us in His image.  These include patience, perseverance, discipline, prudence, discernment, courage, meekness, humility, gentleness, obedience, forbearance, commitment, love, integrity, purity, morality, ethics, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, faithfulness, peace, joy, hope, comfort, strength, honesty and a myriad of others.  Each room in the “heart” complex has the name of an attribute above the door; sometimes a room has several names since attributes can overlap.  The rooms of the heart complex are more or less grouped in wings but these wings are not independent; they intersect and wander from story to story.  The holiness wing, for example, comprises the ground floor with extensions into all other wings.

Only you and the spirits you choose to invite are present in a given room.  A white board hangs on one wall of each room with the words “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” but the boards are not well illuminated and are easy to ignore.  The rooms are interconnected by an intercom system and a quiet but disquieting voice seems to periodically inject advice concerning how the affairs of a particular room should be conducted.  But the rooms are large and it’s easy to get far enough away from the intercom to ignore this disturbing, disquieting voice.  Also, an annoying intermittent knock can be heard coming from an outside door, perhaps the front door or maybe a side door.  But if you have a sufficient number of distractions – the burdens and bitterness of life or perhaps a loud party with some invited spirits – the writing on the white board, the voice on the intercom and the annoying knock can be ignored with relative ease.

One day you are alone in your thoughts and feel the overwhelming presence of sin.  It’s like a heavy weight on your chest that keeps you from breathing.  What is wrong?  You were always able to suppress these feelings and convince yourself that all your actions were justified.  Then you realize the voice on all the intercoms is saying some things that pierce your heart like an ice pick.  What can you do?  Is there no escape from the suffocating power of sin?  You run from one room to another to no avail.  The voice becomes louder and suddenly blurts out, “Open the door where God is knocking!”  You search for the door; it takes a while.  Finally you locate a side door that you thought was a broom closet.  As you peer through a dingy glass, you see a man knocking.  The door has no doorknob on his side so he can’t open it.  There is an intercom right next to the door.  The disquieting voice from the intercom becomes something like a wind or strange breath urging you open the door.

Your palms sweat and you fear the consequences but you open the door.  The man says, “May I come in?”  He is an ordinary looking, quiet man, not at all threatening, so you invite him in.  He then startles you by abruptly asking, “Do you confess your sins with remorse in your heart; want to repent; ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy; believe you can receive peace in your life only by faith in Jesus Christ, the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement; and promise to seek the path of obedience?”  You don’t really know what he is talking about but, somehow, his words give you a measure of peace so you abruptly answer, “Yes” having only a rudimentary understanding of what you have just accepted.  Yet, as soon as you respond, the great heavy weight of sin is lifted off your chest.  The man then says, “I have a gift for you” and hands you a box with the word salvation on the lid.  You remove the lid and find a collection of certificates inside the box; each one has your name on it.  The certificates say things like:

 

  • You have been redeemed from the bondage of sin.
  • You have been forgiven all sins committed from birth to this point in time.
  • You have been justified as sinless before a holy God.
  • You have been adopted into the family of God.
  • You have been regenerated from the bondage of sin to a life of pursuing righteousness.
  • You will be guided along the path of sanctification.
  • You have been reconciled with fellow believers.
  • You have been united with all believers in the church of Jesus Christ.
  • You can look forward to glorification.

 

You say, “What do these certificates mean, for example the one about being regenerated?”  The man says, “I am Jesus Christ.  I have paid the price for your salvation.  I am giving you the Holy Spirit who will make known to you the will of God and help you discern the truth.  He will occupy and purify all the rooms of your heart into which he is invited.”  At that instant the disquieting voice from the intercom comes through the door like a wind.  You realize a person is the source of that voice and that person takes up residence in your will and intellect as an advisor.  He also occupies and purifies all those rooms of your heart which you permit him to enter.  He illuminates the white board in each of these rooms and says, “It is the requirement of God’s law that you love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”  If any evil spirits have been residing in those rooms, they are shown to the door.  You have been saved!  You have been reborn as a Christian and this is the first day of your new life.

 

YOU WERE LIVING IN BONDAGE TO SIN;

BUT YOUR HEART YEARNED TO BE BORN AGAIN.

 

YOU GLIMPSED GOD’S PEACE WHICH CONFOUNDS THE WISE;

AND REST FOR YOUR SOUL WAS REALIZED.

 

THE YOKE IS EASY AND THE LOAD IS LIGHT FOR JESUS CHRIST YOU BEAR;

COMPARED TO SATAN’S BONDAGE, CHRIST’S LOAD IS LIGHTER THAN AIR.