Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest – Matthew 11:28
Meaning of Matthew 11:28
The verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” means anyone who is emotionally tired of carrying trauma or going through depression can find solace in Jesus. The verse is an invitation from Jesus to anyone who carries the burdens of life, work, family, and mental health and struggles to maintain the balance. The person might understand the side effects of a fast-paced life and how he or she can feel overwhelmed because of it. The word “rest” is not the literal meaning of lying down or sleeping but is symbolic of emotional freedom and lightweight from the world’s troubles.
Interpretations of Matthew 11:28
Matthew 11:28 is a widely used verse as a source of relief and comfort. It is also widely misinterpreted and misjudged. Here are a few examples.
Interpretation #1 Jesus can carry the physical burden
The first interpretation of the verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is that Jesus offers to carry people’s physical burdens to relieve them. Hence, the reader believes that Jesus can lift up their physical burden, including health problems, challenges in school, financial issues like loans, poverty, a bad marriage, etc., through miracles such as sending another person or intervening directly. God is asking everyone who is tired of their life problems to come to him so that he can provide solutions. The word “carry” here might imply handing over every trouble to Jesus. Here the reader is expected to rely on the church as well as God’s representative who can relieve physical burdens from them.
Interpretation #2 The verse is meant for Christians
In this version, the reader believes that this verse is intended for Christians and does not apply to an outsider. According to scholars, The Bible is meant for Christians and also any person looking for moral support and to learn history. Hence, n this interpretation, the reader uses this verse to invite every non-believer to come and surrender their lives to Christ. As doing so will help them to have hope in the afterlife. The churches also use this verse during revivals to help the listeners choose Christianity. He or she believes that they can experience comfort and peace in their everyday life’s challenges after their conversion.
Interpretation #3 A Christian does not require a job
The interpretation of the verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is that the reader does not need to work, take jobs or toil hard. In this version, the reader believes that Jesus allows every Christian to stop working hard and getting tired. He wants his children to have a good life without any hard work. He or she usually perceives that Jesus is assuring him to provide wealth and financial resources to Christians who come to him. The person who takes this verse as a guide chooses to live a hermit or Amish life to grow their own food and sustain themselves to do what is needed and give physical rest a priority.
Interpretation #4 Jesus wants his children to abandon all to follow him
The meaning of the verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is that Jesus expects his children to forget everything and follow him blindly. In a few instances of early Christianity, many followers believed they were asked to leave everything to follow Jesus. The twelve disciples in the New Testament are the best examples of this version because they left their families and livelihood and followed Jesus without question. They went wherever Jesus was teaching in the cities. The ones who did so believed that they would attain peace, knowledge, and contentment by being with Jesus. It is also possible that the reader may not have the desire to work hard, build a career or have a family in order to be a true disciple of Jesus.
Interpretation #5 Anyone can find comfort and mental rest in Jesus
In this verse, the reader believes that Jesus is calling for the ones who are heavily troubled and are carrying the weight of emotional troubles. Jesus is providing comfort and rest to anyone who seeks him in faith. The final interpretation of the verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is that anyone who is through any kind of turmoil or hardships can turn to Jesus for peace and solace. It can also be observed that Jesus is extending an open invitation to everyone, not just Christians. The call to come to him is to encourage the reader to let go of worry as well as live in self-sufficiency.
Historical background of Matthew 11:28
The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament of the Bible and one of the four Gospels. It tells how Messiah, Jesus, comes to his people and forms a group of disciples, how he taught people through different events, and how Israel becomes divided, and how Jesus condemns hostile Israel. The eleventh chapter of Matthew is about Jesus going to Galilee to preach. The 28th verse, in particular, is for someone who is or has gone through difficult times. He/she is promised rest and comfort through troubled and trying times.
Literary Devices of Matthew 11:28
Theme – The verse has commonly used themes throughout the new testament, for example, God’s love, compassion, and peace.
Apostrophe – Matthew 11:28 is also a good example of an apostrophe as Jesus is inviting and addressing to the Christians or followers with challenges who are not present during his speech. (Note: It is not the punctuation mark.)