Sabbath School Lesson for July 24-30, 2021

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Overview of Lesson 5

Jesus’ well-known invitation to find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), brings us many useful thoughts as we study carefully the words of this passage:

  • our need for rest (Sunday)
  • the kind of yoke He wears with us (Monday)

The reasons to take up His yoke are because…

  • He is gentle and humble (Tuesday)
  • His yoke is easy (Wednesday)
  • His burden is light (Thursday)

King David found rest in God, and we wonder how he was able to come to God so boldly for repentance. David obviously had a relationship with Christ, God’s Son–the One who was constantly sent to our world as the Father’s representative from the very beginning (John 1:1).

Jesus, who later took upon Himself our human nature was an easy Person to approach. And now, we hear from His lips the invitation to come to Him, just as David did, for our own rest and renewal.

Memory Text: ” ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ” Matthew 11:28 NKJV

All of us labor to some extent, whether our current burdens are heavy or light. And no one understands the many trials and ways we suffer more than Jesus. He went through them all Himself. Isaiah 53:3 tells us He was “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” There’s no one easier to come to than Jesus, who gave up heaven to come and dwell among us (John 1:14).

Sunday: ” ‘I Will Give You Rest’ “

It makes sense to study Jesus’ invitation to rest by reading it in context. Earlier in Matthew 11, He came down harshly on His people by comparing them to Sodom. Previous to that, He drew attention by associating with sinners. Even His choice of disciples surely must have caused some head-shaking. A tax collector? Common fishermen? What was He thinking? See Matthew 9:9-13.

Jesus’ tendency to reach out to needy people should have pointed out their own need of mercy and forgiveness. He seems to switch gears then in chapter 11 by tenderly offering the invitation for ALL who labor to come to Him. This would have included even those who were attempting to work their way to heaven by their good works. That was certainly heavy labor.

Matthew 11:27 was meant to clear their minds on who was giving them rest. He links Himself strongly with His Father in this verse. When we come to recognize our need for rest, we can be assured that rest in Christ is the safest place to come for it.

But we must come. He never forces us to enter into His rest. It requires our surrender. And that is the hard part. Seeing our great need and knowing the character of the One we come to helps us make the choice to surrender. It is seldom a wasted decision. Rest is promised and delivered when we surrender and come to Him.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 11:27

  • Why does Jesus say this about Himself before He invites all to rest?

Matthew 11:28

  • Why does Jesus offer “rest” at this time, and not something like mercy or forgiveness?
  • Who did Jesus mean by “all who labor and are heavy-laden”? Who would that have included?

Monday: ” ‘Take My Yoke Upon You’ “

Jesus told His followers how to find rest in Him in the next verse, Matthew 11:29. He requires us to…

  1. take His yoke, and
  2. learn from Him.

The yoke is a highly-charged metaphor. It brings to mind an instrument of service that links two animals together, so they are able to work on a task that benefits the master. We, therefore, must be connected in some way to the Savior, in order to achieve anything that looks like rest. It’s easy to see that work that is shared is work that is lightened for each of the partners involved.

It might also be helpful to know that yokes, usually made of wood, were tailor-made for the animal that would wear it. Many measurements were taken to have the most comfortable fit possible. Symbolically, we might expect that the yoke we wear with Christ has been precisely fitted to our needs. We can work comfortably and efficiently with Jesus by our side.

Learning how Jesus worked, always laboring for His Father’s glory, is needed for us to stay yoked with Him. Rest will come when we choose Jesus as our working partner, daily learning more and more about His saving grace and how to share it with others.

Although the law has been described as a yoke of bondage, Christ’s Law, as He preached about it in the Sermon on the Mount, becomes a yoke of liberty (Galatians 5:1). We keep the Law, in order to be free from sin and have rest.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 11:29

  • What two things are needed to find rest in Jesus?
  • Why is surrender required when a yoke is worn?

Galatians 5:1 and Acts 15:10

  • What’s the difference in the yoke of liberty and the yoke of bondage?

Tuesday: ” ‘I am Gentle and Lowly in Heart’ “

Jesus has been called the Second Adam. In other words, Adam was a type of Christ. Through Adam all men received death, and through Christ all receive life (1 Corinthians 15:22).

But Moses was also a type of Christ. We can think of Jesus as a Second Moses too. And this was seen in His humble nature, as described in Matthew 11:29. Likewise, Numbers 12:3 reveals the humility of Moses.

Their humility made both Moses and Jesus great leaders of the people. Jesus recognized this when He said in Matthew 5:5 that the meek would inherit the earth. Many other Bible writers point out the value of a meek, humble spirit (1 Peter 3:4 and Isaiah 57:15).

We are somehow drawn to quiet, sensitive people who value us and see us as worthy individuals. It makes it all the easier to approach Jesus and accept His offer of rest. After taking His yoke, we quickly learn to imitate His quiet, gentle manner, as we work side by side with the Master.

It’s useful to note that the world is attracted to just the opposite kind of character though. Our carnal nature draws us to leaders who are loud, proud, and flamboyantly out-spoken. We must be cautious of this innate tendency of ours to prefer those are not meek and humble, who do not share Christ’s humility.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 11:29 and Numbers 12:3

  • Why would Jesus be considered a Second Moses?
  • Why is humility needed in a leader, and why is it hard to find?

Matthew 5:5

  • What earth do you think the meek inherit?

1 Peter 3:4 and Isaiah 57:15

  • Why does God consider our humility so precious?

Wednesday: ” ‘For My Yoke Is Easy’ “

Judaism has long seen the yoke as a metaphor of the Law. But the Bible points out that there are two kinds of yokes (Galatians 5:1). In other words, there are two ways to keep the Law. One is easy; the other is hard.

We must avoid wearing “the yoke of bondage”, the one that traps us into thinking that keeping the Law is dependent on our own righteousness. The “yoke of liberty”, on the other hand, is worn when we allow ourselves to be covered with His righteousness, depending on Him to do the heavy work.

We’ve already seen how the yoke was specially fitted to the animal wearing it. Even so, there were times when the yoke would not prevent one of the animals from falling. We, too, may stumble at times, even though we’ve accepted the yoke of our Master. But He patiently waits for us to recover our strength, allowing us to resume our labor with Him. Faith returns and the work goes on, when we stay yoked with God.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 11:30

  • In what way can you see the yoke as a symbol of the Law?
  • What is “easy” about wearing Christ’s yoke?

Thursday: ” ‘My Burden Is Light’ “

Although we have taken on the yoke of Jesus, there is still a burden we must bear with Him. There is the task of reaching others with God’s love and grace that must be done before the plan of salvation is complete. Jesus can’t do this work as efficiently without our complete surrender and cooperation.

At the suggestion of his father-in-law Jethro, Moses lightened his burdens by appointing others with him to share in the duties of leadership (Exodus 18:18, 21). In Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul described this burden-sharing by comparing it to the body. Different parts of the body work together to share the gospel.

Thankfully, we don’t have to work on our own, or even just with Jesus. God expects us to join with other saved individuals to lighten the load of our labors. This should be done, whenever and wherever possible, in order to make our burden even lighter.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 11:29, 30

  • How does Jesus’ gentle, lowly nature make His burden lighter for us?
  • What is the best method then to make those who work with us have to work less?

Galatians 6:1, 2

  • Why is bearing each other’s burdens so important, and what does it have to do with the Law?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The world tells us to believe in ourselves in order to make things happen. But this only gets us halfway to finding the rest and peace in life we so desperately need. A better route would be not to believe so much in self, and instead place our belief in God’s Son, who reveals the Father to us (Matthew 11:27).

Ellen White explains it very well: “When you find your work hard, when you complain of difficulties and trials, when you say that you have no strength to withstand temptation, that you cannot overcome impatience, and that the Christian life is uphill work, be sure that you are not bearing the yoke of Christ; you are bearing the yoke of another master.” Child Guidance, p. 267.

Let’s pause every day and make sure we aren’t bearing the “yoke of bondage”, but the “yoke of liberty” (Galatians 5:1). The yoke of Jesus is easy and will lead to rest.

Next Week: Finding Rest in Family Ties (Joseph, Part 1)

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