This past Sunday I preached on that wonderful text in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” On the Saturday evening before I preached, I was reading Chrysostom’s book on baptismal instructions and was struck by his comments on this text. He wrote,
“Come to me, He says, all you who labor and are burdened. His invitation is one of kindness, His goodness is beyond description. Come to me all, not only rulers but also subjects, not only the rich but also the poor, not only the free but also slaves, not only men but women, not only the young but also the old, not only those of sound body but also the maimed and those with mutilated limbs, all of you, He says, come! For such are the Master’s gifts; he knows no distinction of slave and free, nor of rich and poor, but all such inequality is cast aside. Come, He says, all you who labor and are burdened.
And see whom He calls! Those who have spent their strength in breaking the law, those who are burdened with their sins, those who can no longer lift up their heads, those who are filled with shame, those who can no longer speak out. And why does he call them? Not to demand an accounting, nor to hold court. But why? To relieve them of their pain, to take away their heavy burden. For what could ever be a heavier burden than sin? Even if we blind our eyes a thousand times to it, if we try to hide it from the eyes of the world, this weight of sin rouses against us our conscience, that judge which cannot be bribed. In its role of judge, conscience rises up against us and never ceases to inflict on us unceasing pain, like a public executioner who mangles and strangles us in our minds, and thus shows us the enormity of sin. I shall refresh you who are weighted down by sin, He says, and you who are bent down as if under a burden; I shall grant you remission of your sins. Only come to me! Who is so hard of heart and unyielding that he will turn a deaf ear to so kindly a call?”
We live in a world that is filled with restlessness, yet we have a saviour who offers us rest in the midst of the turmoil. We have a wonderful and gracious saviour who offers peace, deep peace that reaches down into the deepest recesses of the soul. Do you know this rest? Do you know the peace that only Jesus can give? “Come to me,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest!”