Summary: The passage alludes to God resting on the 7th Day the first day of man's existence on earth was experiencing God's rest ... When you see a sinful man apart from God, he is restless ... now Christ is inviting us for a more permanent rest in Him.
Opening illustration: On November 19, 1863, two well-known men gave speeches at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The featured speaker, Edward Everett, was a former congressman, governor, and president of Harvard University. Considered one of the greatest orators of his day, Mr. Everett delivered a formal address lasting 2 hours. He was followed by President Abraham Lincoln, whose speech lasted 2 minutes.
Today, Lincoln’s speech, the Gettysburg Address, is widely known and quoted, while Everett’s words have almost been forgotten. It is not just Lincoln’s eloquent brevity that accounts for this. On that occasion, his words touched the wounded spirit of a nation fractured by civil war, offering hope for the days to come.
Words do not have to be many to be meaningful. Here Jesus addresses not only His personal and private relationship with the Father but also that we can have that rest which God intended for us through Jesus Christ. This rest is exclusively found in Christ alone. Our souls cannot find that rest in anyone or anything other than Christ Himself. These words of Jesus will encourage and strengthen us. (David C. McCasland, ODB)
Let us turn to Matthew 11 and dwell on the life-giving words of Christ as we wind up this year.
Introduction (vs. 25-27): Jesus is making a profound point, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Why are they blessed? Jesus is not implying that little children are innocent. The youngest child learns selfishness without the least instruction. Why are the "wise and learned" deprived of the insight granted the children? One reason is their willful unbelief. Another is that God responds to their pride by deliberately withholding understanding from them. Only when the "wise and learned" become like children - i.e. stop depending on their unaided reason – do they begin to be truly wise (1 Corinthians 3:18).
The passage alludes to God resting on the 7th Day the first day of man's existence on earth was experiencing God's rest. Man was created in the finished work of God's rest. Adam and Eve lived totally dependent on God … that is rest. No anxiety, no fear, etc., but from Genesis 3 on you see a restless man after he sinned. When you see a sinful man apart from God, he is restless. We also see in Scripture that when the Israelites entered and resided in the Promised Land, they had temporarily entered God’s rest and now Christ is inviting us for a more permanent rest in Him from and for all things.
There are few passages in the four Gospels more important than this. There are few which contain, in so short a compass, so many precious truths. May God give us an eye to see, and a heart to feel their value!
How are these words of Christ life-giving?
1. A Saving Invitation (v. 28)
(a) Getting There: Do I want to get there? I can now. The questions that matter in life is remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words - "Come unto Me." Not - Do this, or don't do that; but - "Come unto Me." If I will come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordance with my real desires; I will actually cease from sin, and actually find the song of the Lord begins.
Have you ever come to Jesus? Watch the stubbornness of your heart, you will do anything rather than the one simple childlike thing - "Come unto Me." If you want the actual experience of ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.
(b) Exclusiveness Of Christ: Is it not humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things we will not come to Jesus Christ about. If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words - "Come unto Me." In every degree in which you are not real, you will dispute rather than come, you will quibble rather than come, you will go through sorrow rather than come, you will do anything rather than come the last lap of unutterable foolishness - "Just as I am." As long as you have the tiniest bit of spiritual impertinence, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do a big thing, and all He is telling you to do is to "come."
© Completeness: Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say - Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.