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by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, January 22, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Many sermons have been preached from this verse. But we can never hear it too often. The painful conviction Christ speaks of is felt in several hearts. Christ calls those who are troubled to come to Him for rest. He receives all those who come to Him.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

I want you to think of four questions that are answered in this verse.

I. First, who is He?

Christ says, “Come unto me.” But who is He? There are people here this morning who are so new to our church, and have heard, as yet, so little preaching, that they are not yet aware of who He is who said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Who is this person who asks you to come to Him? Let us begin by saying what He is not. Christ is not a great moral teacher. He is not a great philosopher. C. S. Lewis said,

That is the one thing you must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be a Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else He is a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (C. S. Lewis, Ph.D., Mere Christianity, HarperCollins, 2001, p. 52).

Christ was, and is, God in human flesh. That is what the Bible plainly teaches from one end to the other. C. S. Lewis said,

Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic or a fiend; and consequently, however strange and terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. And now…What did He come to do? soon as you look into the New Testament…you will find that they are constantly talking about…His death and His coming to life again. It is obvious that Christians think the chief point of the story lies there. They think the main thing He came to earth to do was to suffer and be killed (ibid., p. 53).

Again, C. S. Lewis said,

We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death wash[es] out our sins, and that by His dying He disabled death itself…That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed (ibid., p. 55).

Christ is the only begotten Son of God. He is the God-man, the Second Person of the Trinity. Incredible though it may seem, the Bible says that He came down from Heaven to suffer, bleed and endure crucifixion, dying nailed to a Cross. And He went through that horrible suffering to pay for your transgressions. On the Cross, He paid the full price for your sin. When you come to Him by faith you have full absolution, to use the Catholic phrase, but give it the Biblical meaning. It is not a priest or a preacher who declares your absolution. It is the God-man Jesus Christ who does so. If you come to Him, Christ’s death on the Cross absolves you from the penalty of sin forever, for

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

Jesus, the God-man, did not come to condemn you. He came to save you from sin. He died on the Cross to pay the price of your sin. He rose physically from the dead to give you everlasting life, free from sin and guilt forever! That is who this person is who said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

II. Second, who does He call?

Why, He calls,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”

Those who labour, and feel that they can never do enough to satisfy the demands of God in His law. Those who say from their hearts, “I can never be good enough!” Those are the very ones Jesus calls and to whom He promises rest - if they will only come to Him. Those are the ones Jesus calls to Himself so He can give them rest.

Some of you have been coming night after night to these meetings, but you have no rest in your soul. You say, “I don’t have enough conviction.” But I am not sure you are right. All the conviction that is needed is to feel that you are labouring and heavy laden. If you were not labouring to some extent, why have you come here for two hours or more night after night? If you are not already heavy laden, why do you have so many fears? Why are you thinking about your sins so much? Why does your very face look so troubled and anxious? Why are you worried that you may go to Hell? Why are you concerned about your ruined inner nature, your inbred enmity and foul thoughts? Why do all these things bother you and leave you feeling depressed and hopeless when the meetings are over - if you are not labouring and heavy laden? Labouring by reading the tracts and sermons I have given you. Labouring by sitting for two hours listening to sermons on Hell, the depravity of your soul, and your acts of sin. You have already gone through a great deal of labour, and you are already weighed down with a great many feelings of guilt for the sins you have committed. All this, I say, should be enough to qualify you as one to whom Jesus calls by saying,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden…” (Matthew 11:28).

You have laboured enough. You have been under the heavy pressure of sin, heavy laden with it, long enough. Or am I wrong - and you need to trudge on again, night after night, in this state? What do you hope to gain by more sweating and worrying over your soul? Do you hope to earn your salvation by labouring more? Do you hope to earn your salvation by being even more heavy laden with guilt? I say that the Devil himself has tricked you if you think that melancholy, desperate thought! I say that you have already experienced enough mental torment - and there is only one thing you need to do to find rest and peace.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Come to Jesus now, and your labour will be over. You will be free from having to sit under the condemning preaching of the Law. You will be free from having to sit for a long time in the inquiry room waiting to speak with a deacon or the pastor. You will be free from guilt and sin and the threat of Hell. Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last - will be the joyful cry of your heart if you will only obey Jesus when He says,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

III. Third, why does He call you?

He does not call you because He needs you. The work of Christ will go on in the church whether you come to Him or not. He does not need your help, although you certainly need His help, pardon and the freedom He offers you.

Again, He does not call you to come to Him because you are worthy or because you are good, or because you are a “good prospect.” No! No! He calls you for the opposite reason - because you are a hopeless sinner, and because He loves you. The Bible says,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
     (I Timothy 1:15).

Are you a sinner? Then you are one of those He came to save. Your very sinfulness qualifies you as a candidate for salvation. Therefore, Jesus says to you,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus did so much to make that rest available to you. When your sins were placed on Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, He choked and sobbed for you in prayer, as a bloody sweat ran from the pores of His suffering body. When the soldiers came and dragged Him away, and beat Him half to death with whips, He bore the pain so you could be healed of sin and find rest for your soul in the knowledge that God’s wrath was poured out on Him instead of you. When they nailed Him to the Cross and He hung there naked and bleeding, He did it so that you could have rest from your guilt and have peace for your tired mind, even the peace that passes understanding, which He wants to give to you today. Yes, Jesus did so very much, and suffered so very much, to make the rest He spoke of available to you, so He could boldly say,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

IV. Fourth, what should you do about this invitation?

It is a very serious invitation to you. Therefore you should pay great attention to it. It is a very simple call, even the newest person here today, or the most hardened church person can understand it - it is so very simple. It suits you exactly. You are described as labouring and heavy laden. It describes you so perfectly that the offer He gives must be for you!

As the Puritan Thomas Brooks put it,

“Come,” says Christ, “and I will give you rest.” I will not show you rest, nor [merely] tell you [about] rest, but I will give you rest. I am faithful, and cannot lie. I will give you rest…Come, saith Christ, that is, believe in me, and I will give you rest: I will give you peace with God, and peace of conscience…I will give you rest that the world cannot give you, and that the world cannot take from you once you have it.

Oh, will you listen this morning to Jesus and do what He said?

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 11:20-30.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Unto Me” (by Charles P. Jones, 1865-1949).



by Dr. Robert Hymers

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

I.   Who is He? Matthew 11:28a; Romans 8:1.

II.  Who does He call? Matthew 11:28b

III. Why does He call you? Matthew 11:28c; I Timothy 1:15.

IV. What should you do about this invitation? Matthew 11:28.