What does Jesus mean when He says we will find rest for our souls? Maybe the first question we need to answer is, “What is a soul?” From my understanding of its very definition, as well as how its used in God’s Word, the soul is the immaterial, intangible, core and essence of our being. The soul encompasses the entirety of a human being’s moral, rational, spiritual and emotional aspects. Without a soul, we would not be alive.
God’s Word says people can kill our body, but not our soul. Only God Himself has the power to destroy a soul. (Matthew 10:28) Nothing is worth more than our soul. (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:37) When we accept Christ, it is our soul that He saves. (Hebrews 10:39, James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:9) A pastor’s job is to watch over the souls of his flock. (Hebrews 13:17) Christ is the guardian of our soul. (1 Peter 2:25)
Sounds like to me, our souls are the most important aspect of our human existence. In this sinful world we live in, we can get beaten down pretty badly. Our mental and emotional state can suffer with depression, anxiety, feelings of rejection, shame, and guilt. Our moral compass is challenged on a regular basis. All these things can weigh us down and the burden can become so heavy at times, we just want to give up.
If that’s the case, we really need to be paying careful attention to how we care for our soul. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says we find rest for our weary souls when we take His yoke upon ourselves. If we just take that verse at face value without really understanding the meaning, it can seem that Jesus is asking us to take on even more of a burden. Actually, it’s just the opposite.
What does He mean when He says for us to take His yoke upon ourselves? A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that fits over the necks of two animals and is attached to a plow or cart. The yoke forces the two animals to walk side by side, close together, to pull the plow/cart. Walking in tandem lightens the load because each one is pulling equal weight, rather than one pulling alone.
This illustration from Jesus was very easily understood by those He was speaking to at the time, but His message is still clear today. When we are tired and burdened down, it’s a good sign we’ve been trying to do life on our own. When we yoke ourselves to Him, we learn from Him and experience His gentleness and humility. He is all powerful, so when we walk in tandem with Him, He’s the one actually pulling the weight. This is how we find rest for our souls.
Are there areas of your life that feel overwhelming? Where are you weary and burdened?
Maybe as you think about this you will realize you’ve been trying to live in your own power and that’s why you’re just slam worn out. Mediate on the first three words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28…”Come to Me.”
What would need to change for you to “come to Jesus,” yoke up with Him, and find that rest for your soul?
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