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For the Weary and the Heavy Laden

Updated on July 8, 2020
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Everyone can read and be blessed by Matthew 11:28-30. However, the passage is directly addressed to those who are "weary and heavy laden."

If you are weary, then these words of Jesus are for you. Being weary simply means being tired, exhausted, worn out, burned out, and overwhelmed because of what you have been doing and perhaps are still doing.

If you are heavy laden, then Matthew 11:28-30 is for you. Being heavy laden means being burdened with cares. It means being troubled, in turmoil, or vexed in your spirit.

While the passage is a vivid description of being burden physically like oxen pulling a heavy load, it has a different meaning for us today. Jesus was speaking to those who are burdened down with uncomfortable and depressing things in their lives.

The Invitation to Come

There is no shortage of invitations "to come" in the Bible. The number of times depends on the version that you are using. However, it does not matter which version you use because the command "to come" is listed enough times to get our attention.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word "come" and words related to that verb occur an abundance of times.

  • Come appears 1,971 times.
  • Cometh is there 282 times.
  • Comest shows up 29 times.

That surely is enough times for us to get the point.

Three Imperatives

Jesus gives three imperatives to those who are weary and heavy laden. According to the New American Standard Bible, Jesus clearly gives three commands in those three verses:

  1. "Come to me."
  2. "Take My yoke."
  3. "Learn from Me."

The above passage is packed with good news and simply instructions for those who are weary and heavy laden.


After the invitation is given to those who are weary and heavy laden, Jesus makes a promise.

"...and I will give you rest."

Jesus made a promise to those who need it the most. He vowed to give rest to those who accept His invitation to come to Him. After the promise, He commanded them to do something else.

Two More Things

The Son of God tells the weary and heavy laden to do two more things:

  1. "Take My yoke upon you."
  2. "Learn from me."

To convince people, Jesus explained why they should take His yoke upon themselves and learn from Him. He characterized Himself as being "gentle and humble in heart."

He promised them rest a second time. This time He was more explicit. He offered them "rest for their souls." The reason Jesus could do this is based on the way He described His yoke.

"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Yoke: Definition

In order to understand what Jesus was illustrating, you must know what a yoke is. Those who have ever lived on a farm probably already know.

A yoke is a very heavy harness made of wood that fits over the shoulders of oxen or other strong animals. It is attached to a piece of equipment the animals have to pull. The yoke has to fit properly. If it was too loose or too tight, it becomes extremely uncomfortable for the animals. Also, it keeps them from pulling the load in the same direction.

Jesus says His yoke is not heavy or cumbersome. Instead, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Animals wearing a yoke.
Animals wearing a yoke. | Source

The word "yoke" in the Bible indicates bondage and subjection. Not only is a yoke heavy, but the oxen had to carry a heavy load which made it double burdensome.

Jesus knew something about yokes. After all, he was a carpenter's son who specialized in custom-made yokes for animals. Jesus learned that trade as an apprentice to His father (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).

Essence of Matthew 11:28-30

The essence of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 is that there is no need to endure heavy burdens. When a person has reached the point when he is weary and heavy laden, there is something he can do about it.

  • First, he can accept Jesus' invitation to come to Him.
  • Second, he can take the yoke Jesus is offering.
  • Then he can learn from Jesus who promised rest because He is gentle and humble in heart.
  • Finally, he can exchange his heavy burden for the easy and light load that Jesus carries.

If you are weary, take Jesus' advice. If you are heavy laden, take Jesus' advice and do what He commanded so that you can find rest for your soul.

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