Zoe Center
“Rest” Part 1
Archived – March 10, 2024

“Rest” Part 1

March 10, 2024


“A process through which people are inwardly transformed in such a way that the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ naturally flow out from them when and wherever they are. In other words, it can be understood as the process by which true Christlikeness is established in the very depths of our being.” –Dallas Willard

Galatians 4:19 (NASB1995): My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—


Jesus’ Offers Us Rest

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV): 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Proverbs 18:14 (ESV): 14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

“But Macho, how does this transformation actually take place? Yeah I know it’s from God. I know it’s not something I can accomplish in my own strength, but why am I not experiencing the transformation that I deeply desire? I love God, I come to church, I read my Bible, what more am I supposed to do?”–Macho Ortega

Three Instructions

Jesus’ offer of rest is presented within the context of three instructions:

  • Come
  • Take
  • Learn

Come to Jesus

Matthew 11:28 (ESV): 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

When you don’t respond to Jesus’ invitation, you are cutting yourself off from the means by which He will give you rest.

Reasons We Don’t Come to Jesus

  • We want to retain power
    • We prefer control over submission
  • We don’t want to open our hearts
    • We prefer protection over vulnerability
  • We are afraid of the unknown
    • We prefer certainty over mystery

Take His Yoke

Matthew 11:29 (ESV): 29 Take my yoke upon you. . .

A yoke is an ancient technology used to increase the amount of weight that could be moved or carried by a human or animal.

From texancultures.utsa:

“A yoke is a wooden beam used to help carry or pull heavy objects by distributing the weight evenly on both shoulders and can be used by humans and animals a like. There are three main types of yokes and it depends on what it is being used by. The first type of yoke is used by humans. A yoke used by humans would be a single beam of wood that sits on their shoulders where the back meets with the neck. The other two are for animals, one for a single animal and the other for two. If a single animal were to use a yoke then it would be made similar to that of the ones used by humans, but a with loop hold it in place around their neck. The two animal yoke, which is referred to as a team yoke, would be a longer beam of wood and have two loops, one for each animal.

“Animal yokes allow animals to pull farming equipment, like a plow, along with wagons and carriages. The animals most commonly used to pull farm equipment, wagons, and carriages are horses, donkeys, mules, and oxen.”


Leon Morris:

“In the New Testament yoke is always used metaphorically and signifies bondage or submission to authority of some kind.” [ Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 296.]

The irony of the yoke is that it helps with burdens, but it is also a symbol of burden.

Now there’s another thing to keep in mind within the cultural context of the world in which Jesus lived:

The word “yoke” was used in figures of speech to describe the hypocrisy and unreasonable expectations of the Pharisees (a sect of Jewish religious leaders and scholars) who created numerous laws beyond the Scripture that were impractical for people to follow.

Leon Morris:

“ ‘The yoke of the law’ and kindred expressions are common among the Jews. . . The rabbis spoke lovingly about ‘the yoke of the law,’ and there can be no doubt that for them it was a singular blessing. But their delight in the law was not necessarily shared by the common people, to whom it may well have appeared much more burdensome than the rabbis thought. ‘The arbitrary demands of Pharisaic legalism and the uncertainties of ever-proliferating case law’ (AB, p. 146) point to a situation where what was a delight to the legal experts was intolerable to ordinary people.” [Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 296.]

  • The life of ease is a life of submission.
  • Jesus won’t abuse you
  • Jesus is carrying yoke and burden with you

Christ’s Yoke is a Simple Work Machine

Simple machine: “any of several devices with few or no moving parts that are used to modify motion and the magnitude of a force in order to perform work. They are the simplest mechanisms known that can use leverage (or mechanical advantage) to increase force. The simple machines are the inclined plane, lever, wedge, wheel and axle, pulley, and screw.”–Encyclopedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/technology/simple-machine

  • Faith is like a simple work machine.
  • Mustard Seed faith: small faith, great results.
  • If we take on what Jesus asks us to carry, it will be comparatively lighter than whatever we are currently being burdened with.
  • We will be relieved by making the business of the Kingdom our priority.
  • Kingdom work will not be burden us further, but less.

You Don’t Have the Option of NOT Being Yoked

Macho Ortega: “Spiritual formation is not exclusively a Christian Thing. It’s a HUMAN thing.”–Macho Ortega

John Mark Comer: “Spiritual formation is not optional. Every thought you think, every emotion you let shape your behavior, every attitude you let rest in your body. Every decision you make, each word you speak, every relationship you enter into… the habits that make up our days, whether or not you have social media (if you do, how you use it). How you respond to pain and suffering, how you handle failure or success… All these things and more are forming us into a particular shape. Stasis is not on the menu; we are either being transformed into the love and beauty of Jesus or malformed by the entropy of sin and death. to believe otherwise is an illusion and to give no thought to this is to come dangerously close to wasting your life”– John Mark Comer

Whose Yoke Are you in Right Now?





Vain Philosophies

Private Thinking

  • Proverbs 14:12 (ESV): 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
  • Proverbs 3:7 (ESV): 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Learn from Jesus

Matthew 11:29 (ESV): 29 . . . learn from me. . .

We find rest in the process of spiritual formation.


© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2024

Save PDF Locally

Click to save a copy of the filled-in notes to a PDF file on the computer/device you are currently using

Save PDF to Google Drive

Click to save a copy of the filled-in notes to a PDF file on your Google Drive account

(For Apple devices, use Chrome browser or go to SETTINGS>SAFARI and uncheck BLOCK POPUPS.)

Send to Email

Enter your email address below to receive a copy of your filled in notes