The Great Giver
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 11:28 (Holman) “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
The plea, “Come to Me,” is followed by the pledge, “And I will give you rest.” Every word in this promise is a gold mine worth prospecting. When Mom taught my deaf sister to talk, every sound, letter, and syllable was essential, treated as vital, and meticulously covered. Our text deserves similar attention to detail.
Slow down for our text! Don’t read and run. Take ample time to savor each word. In “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Tom, when trying to read, has to labor slowly over every word, sounding them out. We need to read the Bible this way. Every word deserves close scrutiny. This is especially true for this promise from Jesus.
Matt. 11:28f “And I . . .”
Jesus contrasted Himself to the Pharisees and others who were increasing the people’s burdens. He gives relief, literally promising, “I will rest you.” In other words, the gift of rest is not something given apart from His own self.
Jesus is the gift. His rest is not a present He gives like a friend who leaves behind a gift that’s ours though the giver is gone, nor like a bone thrown to a dog.
What Jesus gives to us is a spill-over of what He is to us at that moment. No gift from God can satisfy apart from intimacy with the Giver. People think they first and foremost want gifts from God. Down deep, though, the real cry of humanity is Job’s (23:3) outburst, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him,” not it.
What we request from God, regardless of the item asked for, be sure to keep the request in its place. Before seeking any thing, gift, or blessing from God, seek a closer walk with Him. Increased benefits derive from an enhanced relationship.
Matt. 11:28g “. . . will . . .”
The promise is guaranteed, foolproof, absolutely certain, no doubt about it. Jesus performs what He pledges. Our confidence is strong because His hand delivers the gift personally. Jesus does not work through couriers.
This gift is brought directly. By hand-carrying to us His rest, Jesus assures us of no slip between cup and lip, no chance of breakdown in this delivery system.
His hand-delivery of rest also grants us another comforting assurance. The gift is genuine, truly valuable. Jesus never deals in counterfeits or false hopes.
Everyone Jesus healed, He healed completely, no partial recoveries were allowed. The same is true of those He saves. They are everyone forgiven, brought into a personal relationship with Him, and assured of everlasting life in Heaven. Even if, to find us, He has to reach to the guttermost, He saves us to the uttermost.
Matt 11:28h “. . . give you . . .”
The offer of assurance about salvation is utter unselfishness incarnate, not a bribe. Jesus gives us confidence for our benefit, seeking nothing from us in return.
A gift, by definition, is not earned, but given freely. All who seek to merit salvation are striving not for a gift, but for spiritual wages and Heavenly rewards.
Efforts to buy our way into Heaven fail to bring us assurance because we instinctively know we don’t deserve God’s rest, however hard we strive to earn it.
We all have to admit we have no moral excellence in ourselves. The fact we strive and strive to earn salvation proves we know this. May God grant us rest from trying to earn Heaven. Cease and desist. End all effort at self-won salvation.
Many think they shouldn’t even try to come to Jesus till they are better, but initially, Christ doesn’t want our better-ness. The latter comes later.
Do we wait till we feel better before going to a doctor? No. We know the best time to consult a physician is when we are as sick as can be. Likewise, don’t wait until you improve spiritually before coming to Jesus the Great Physician.
Spurgeon well states the solution to our quandary. “If you cannot come with a broken heart, come for a broken heart. If you cannot come with faith, come for faith. If you cannot come repenting, come and ask the Lord to give you repentance.” Come set on receiving humbly, rather than trying to impress proudly.
Don’t run ahead of yourself, and overshoot the target. We may be in a hurry to say, “I want to love Jesus.” Wait! The sentiment is good, but needs to be discussed later. The first order of business is to realize how much Jesus loves us.
As we contemplate the possibility of forgiveness, something in us begins to stir, “I want to serve Jesus.” Good, but later. First, we must let Jesus serve us.
As we think of His infinite kindness to us, we feel an impulse, “I want to bring gifts to Jesus.” Amen, but delay a moment. Initially, receive His gift to us.
We must renounce pride, humble self, and be willing to receive everything from Him. Pride is our insidious foe. Humble, humble, humble is the key word.
The Kurds once suffered the cruelties of a mean, vile leader who, to bully people, always carried a gun and a dagger. These were the symbols of his cruelty.
After hearing about Jesus, the ruler began to buckle, became bowed down, under the weight of his sin. He wept, prayed, and departed to be alone with God.
He came back a changed man, his gun and dagger replaced with a Bible and hymn book. He went from being a bully to being a blessing. For the remainder of his life he often said, “My great sins and my great Savior.” If ever a man had the right to brag about how much he changed and how good he became, this was the man, but on his dying bed, he rose up shouting, “Oh, it was free grace, free grace.”
Grace can be a hard lesson to learn. Our pride makes us want to be self-sufficient, to earn our way. Spiritual humility is a tough pill to swallow.
George Whitefield, and John and Charles Wesley, once fell into a whirlpool of works. They tried everything they could think of in an effort to earn salvation.
In an effort to merit Heaven, they attended every public worship service at their church, plus took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Every Wednesday and Friday, they fasted. Every day they secluded themselves for a while morning and evening for meditation and prayer.
They wore coarse, unsightly, uncomfortable clothes, ate the least tasteful food, visited the sick, taught the unlearned, and ministered to the poor. In order to have more money to give away, John Wesley went barefoot for a while.
And yet, even after all this effort expended, Whitefield and the Wesleys did not achieve the assurance of salvation their hearts craved.
Confidence came only when they understood and acted on the need to be born again. When they received salvation by grace, peace became theirs.
Salvation by works puts on our shoulders the ultimate responsibility for gaining Heaven. Salvation by grace places the load on Jesus’ shoulders. I think we would all much prefer trusting His shoulders rather than ours.