Rest from Religion (Matthew 11)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Religion is wearying.  No matter how hard I try to be perfect or to live up to God’s standards of holiness, I fall far short.  The sacrifices I bring only last for a day, and it’s almost as if the harder I try, the less likely I am to actually get God’s attention.  Religion is seemingly a fruitless pursuit of gaining God’s affections.

When Jesus stepped onto the center stage of history, the Pharisees had done an excellent job of teaching people how to be religious.  Obey the rules.  Offer the right sacrifices.  Earn God’s favor.  People weren’t very good at religion, and it simply became a burden that they could never bear for any length of time.

And then Jesus came along with this very hope-filled promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Isn’t that what we all want?  Rest?  I’m tired of trying and failing.  I’m tired of feeling like there’s nothing I can do to be good enough.  So now I can simply find respite in the promise of Jesus that, in him, I have true rest.  In him, I don’t have to try anymore.  In him there exists grace unspeakable that surpasses anything my heart could ever desire.  There, in him, I am accepted, welcomed, and loved.

Father, thank You for the rest that Jesus brings.  Thank You for his selfless sacrifice on the cross.  May I never take that sacrifice for granted.  May I never dishonor grace in such a way that I try to attain it.  May I stay at the place of rest that exists in his presence.

About Seth

Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.