Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”In verse 29, we are invited to learn from Christ. Look at it again: Take my yoke upon you (salvation) and LEARN FROM ME, (discipleship) for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I submit to you that rest comes to us as we receive what Jesus has done, which is salvation, something that puts us in right-standing with God and secures us a place in Heaven for eternity, but additional rest also comes to us as we are diligent to learn from Jesus. It is what we learn about Him, it is what we receive from Jesus as our Teacher, that enables us to rely on Him in ways that produce rest in our daily lives.
It is this discipleship piece that is crucial for us if we are going to fully live the life we have received as Christians. We have received the opportunity for an abundant life, life to the full, but if we fail to learn from Jesus, we have been given a gift that largely goes unopened.
If you had an opportunity to learn from someone who had mastered something you aspire to, wouldn’t you take advantage of any offer to spend time with them, any offer to learn from them, any opportunity to gain wisdom from their prowess and expertise? Who is it that you look up to, that you would love to be like? How would you benefit from a chance to sit at their feet and have them speak into your life? Imagine getting pointers from the best of the best about singing or running or pole vaulting or weightlifting or crocheting or cooking or whatever it is that you love and would like to learn more about. When you are invited to learn from a master craftsman or a scholar in some area, that isn’t an opportunity to be squandered, but one that you should be eager to take advantage of.
How much more should we all be eager to sit at Jesus feet, to spend time with Him, to gain from His wisdom, to be directed by His knowledge, and to be empowered by His Spirit? When the 12 were called to follow Jesus, they were called into a daily relationship with Him as their Rabbi, with Him as their teacher. They got up every day expecting to learn something from Him, something that would change the way they saw life and lived life, and Jesus did not disappoint them. Their goal was to become so acquainted with Jesus that they would be able to imitate Him. They wanted to copy how He prayed, how He studied, how He taught, how He served and healed people, and how He lived out His relationship with God. They wanted to be able to emulate how Jesus handled Himself in every situation. Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “Everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” That is our goal, friends, to be fully trained to be like our teacher, Jesus.
Oh, that we would be fully trained to be like our teacher! That can happen as we daily seek to learn from Him. Paul said in Galatians 4:19 that his desire for that group of people was that Christ would be formed in them. That is the purpose of discipleship. When we are like Christ, fully formed, fully conformed to His image, we will experience the full rest He offers. The forming and conforming don’t happen by osmosis. They aren’t a result of just attending church, but it occurs as we are active learners who seek to experience Christ’s work in us every day.
Biblical discipleship differs from the kind of learning that takes place in a formal education setting. In a formal classroom setting, teachers will explain concepts, they will convey information, they will seek to inspire learning that can be tested in hopes that the students have received or learned the information needed enough to regurgitate it on a test, and then the students and teachers will part ways until the next class is in session.
But a Christian disciple doesn’t just report to class to hear a lecture, to hear a sermon once or twice a week. A disciple shares life with the teacher in ongoing community, in ongoing fellowship and in ongoing learning outside of the classroom. As one person commented, “Disciples studied not just the text of Scripture, but also the text of the rabbi’s life.” I would say it this way: Disciples aren’t just interested in possessing or repeating information, but they seek to replicate a life.
As we learn of Jesus and begin to understand how He reacted to His circumstances, and as we learn from Jesus about who He is and what He can do in our circumstances, we gain confidence in Christ that no matter what happens to us, we will have victory. Growing as a disciple of Christ helps you live a confident life and that gives you rest.
As we learn from Jesus we learn to walk in His rest. An ancient Jewish blessing goes, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” The idea is that a rabbi’s disciples—those who took on his yoke, those who learned the meaning of the Scriptures from him—would follow so closely behind him when they walked that they would become caked in the dust he kicked up with his feet. The common Christian saying “following in the footsteps of Jesus” conveys the same idea. How dusty are you? My heart’s desire is to be covered in the dust of my Rabbi.