Rest and Peace!

When the Lord Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), He was addressing those who were labouring to find divine blessing on the ground of law, and who felt the oppression with which the law burdened them. In natural things a man expects to find rest after his labours are ended, but there was no rest for those under law, for there was no end to the requirements of the law, “for the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth” (Romans 7:1). The law burdened the spirit with its demands, and sin, which the law could not take away, burdened the conscience.

The careless and ungodly would not feel the burden, for man is naturally indifferent regarding God and His blessing, but the pious in Israel were labouring and heavy laden, and to such the words of the Lord would bring cheer and encouragement. Here was One who was able to remove the heavy load, and was willing to do it, to set the heart at rest from the burden upon the conscience, and to give rest in the knowledge of what He had brought of the Father’s grace. God was no longer demanding from men; He was seen in Jesus as a giving God. The scribes bound “heavy burdens and grievous to be borne” upon the shoulders of Israel, and would not move them with one of their fingers (Matthew 23:4), but the Lord Jesus came to relieve men, and to remove the heavy burden.

Freed from the yoke of the law, the Lord invited the godly to take His yoke upon them, and to learn of Him. He was not a hard Master, and had Himself come under the yoke of service to God, and in His service was “meek and lowly in heart.” As the servants of the Lord they would find His yoke easy, and His burden light, and have rest for their souls. The Lord only asks us to do what the divine nature finds pleasure in, and what we see perfectly expressed in Himself.

The Lord not only gives rest to His people, He also gives peace, for He said to His disciples before leaving them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). In a life of unwearied service to His God and Father there was everything around to disturb and distress, but amidst all, His heart had an undisturbed peace, and this is the peace He gives to His own. The disciples were about to be deprived of their Master who had constantly cared for them, but He said to them, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33). Our peace is in Him, and it is His own peace.

In Philippians 4:6 we are exhorted to “be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” This will bring to us the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” a peace that will guard the entry of every avenue into the heart, and keep out every disturbing thought. This is the peace that leaves God’s throne undisturbed amidst all the conflicts of the nations of the world.

Moreover, if our thoughts are on the beautiful features that are seen in Christ, and if we are walking in the light of God’s word, seeking His will, we can ever count on having with us “the God of peace,” the One who is the source of peace, and who can keep from us all that will disturb the heart and mind.