Rest For Your Soul

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“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

If there is one message from Jesus that would have the greatest appeal to the common person, the peasant class of his day, I would say this is it. I would paraphrase this message as follows:

If you struggle and are filled with worry, listen to what I say. I have discovered the way that brings true peace and rest. As you learn to be still and receptive to your indwelling Spirit, the burdens you carry are lifted, and your life is truly blessed.  

When we couple this with his teaching of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and how the heavenly Father cares for them, Jesus was telling this struggling class of people that the Father knew their needs even before they ask. There is a way to tap into the natural flow of infinite intelligence that brings peace of mind and rest to the soul.  This was not the kind of message the people were used to hearing from their religious leaders.

For me, it is a message with the same appeal as Emerson’s oft-quoted line: “There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word.” Jesus was telling his followers that, right where they were, amidst the ordinary circumstances of daily life, the same living presence that prospers and beautifies every aspect of the natural world, is doing the same for them. He was instructing them to stop frittering away their spiritual energy through worry, which has no positive benefit, and instead develop an active trust in this quiet way of truth that sets one free from the burdens of life.  

Where the religious professionals were telling people that the kingdom of God would one day arrive, Jesus, from the authority of his own first-hand knowledge, was teaching that the kingdom of God was present, and the way to know it is found in the temple of one’s own heart.


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