Abide in Christ, Day Two

Matthew 11:28-30
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.”

Chapter Two: And you shall find rest to your souls
Murray’s main point for the day is that the promise of rest for the soul hinges not only on the coming, but also on the taking of Jesus’ yoke upon ourselves and learning from Him:

Giving up one’s whole life to Him, for Him alone to rule and order it; taking up His yoke, and submitting to be led and taught, to learn of Him; abiding in Him, to be and do only what He wills–these are the conditions of discipleship without which there can be no thought of maintaining the rest that was bestowed on first coming to Christ.

We must come and take His yoke upon ourselves and learn from Him. Then and only then can we find rest. Simply because “the rest is in Christ, and not something He gives apart from Himself, and so it is only in having Him that the rest can really be kept and enjoyed.”

That line caught my attention. How often are we tempted to think blessings of joy and peace and rest are distinct from Christ, when in truth they are found in Christ! Why do we settle for the blessings when we can have the Blessed One Himself? Murray pinpoints a good reason why this might be so:

But, alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult, and the very effort to attain to this often disturbs the rest even more than sin or the world. 

In essence we want rest but we think that Jesus demands more than we can offer – Murray’s insight here is spot-on:

It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole-hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and our Keeper, finds and secures the rest.

It is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day.

And there is the heart of the problem! Our hearts are too small to comprehend that Jesus will do the work of keeping us safe in His rest. We find it difficult to surrender to His yoke because we find it difficult to trust His promise. We do not believe Him when He says His yoke is easy. We do not believe the truth He utters, that “the yoke gives the rest, because the moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it.” Yes, Jesus does demand more than we can offer, but He will supply what we lack. 

Jesus only asks that we surrender ourselves to Him, and  “His almighty love will hold us fast, and keep and bless us.”

Thought for the day
This is troubling to me in a specific way. It is not the yoke that is difficult, but rather that we are resistant to the yoke. Why do we not trust the words of Christ that He will give rest to those who come and take His yoke upon themselves?

I know that if I do not trust these words, I am accusing Jesus of not being trustworthy or faithful or sovereign. Yet my heart and mind finds these accusations repugnant. Rather it would appear that I am caught somewhere in the middle, knowing what Jesus is like, yet finding it hard to wholly surrender. I believe many of us are here too. Perhaps we just cannot tolerate the idea of being dependent and surrendering ourselves wholly to someone. There is that part of us that constantly lies to us that we need to be in control of our lives and our future. We like things to go according to plan.

If so, we need to come to grips with the truth that it is God alone who works all things according to His own plan. We need the Spirit to illuminate our hearts to see Christ for the strong, faithful, loving, trustworthy and majestic God that He is. God who nevertheless became man that He might identify with all our burdens and restlessness in this world. We need to be weaned off our pride, and submit humbly to the plans of God.

We need to trust that in our surrender, “His almighty love will hold us fast, and keep and bless us.” This is what it means to live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. We need to cast our eyes on the cross constantly and remind ourselves that if God the Father loved us such that He would give His Son for us, that if God the Son willingly gave His life in exchange for ours, then God will certainly give us all that we need for this life and the next.

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