“Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.”—MATT. 11:28.
SONG 17 “I Want To”
1. As recorded at Matthew 11:28-30, what promise did Jesus make?
JESUS made a beautiful promise to a crowd that was listening to him. “Come to me,” he said, “and I will refresh you.” (Read Matthew 11:28-30.) This was not an empty promise. Think, for example, of what he did for a woman who was suffering from a terrible sickness.
2. What did Jesus do for a sick woman?
2 The woman desperately needed help. She had gone to many physicians, hoping to find relief. After 12 years of misery, she still had not been healed. According to the Law, she was unclean. (Lev. 15:25) Then she heard that Jesus could cure those who were suffering, so she went to find him. When she found him, she touched the fringe of his outer garment, and immediately she was cured! But Jesus did more than heal her body—he restored her dignity. For example, when talking with her, he used the warm yet respectful term “daughter.” How truly refreshed, or energized, that woman must have felt!—Luke 8:43-48.
3. What questions will we answer?
3 Notice that the woman went to Jesus. She took the initiative. The same is true today—we must make the effort to “come to” Jesus. At present, Jesus will not miraculously cure the physical sicknesses of those who “come to” him. But he still extends the invitation: “Come to me, . . . and I will refresh you.” In this article, we will answer five questions: How can we “come to” Jesus? What did Jesus mean when he said: “Take my yoke upon you”? What can we learn from Jesus? Why is the work that he has given us to do refreshing? And how can we continue to find refreshment under Jesus’ yoke?
“COME TO ME”
4-5. What are some ways that we can “come to” Jesus?
4 One way to “come to” Jesus is by learning as much as we can about the things he said and did. (Luke 1:1-4) Nobody else can do this for us—we must study these accounts for ourselves. We also “come to” Jesus by making the decision to get baptized and become a disciple of Christ.
5 Another way to “come to” Jesus is by going to the congregation elders if we need help. Jesus uses these “gifts in men” to care for his sheep. (Eph. 4:7, 8, 11; John 21:16; 1 Pet. 5:1-3) We must take the initiative to ask for their help. We cannot expect the elders to read our minds and know what we need. Consider what a brother named Julian says: “I had to leave my Bethel assignment for health reasons, and one of my friends recommended that I request a shepherding call. At first, I did not think I needed it. But later I asked for help, and that shepherding visit turned out to be one of the best gifts I have ever received.” Loyal elders, such as the two who visited Julian, can help us to know “the mind of Christ,” that is, to understand and imitate his thinking and attitude. (1 Cor. 2:16; 1 Pet. 2:21) This really is one of the best gifts they can give us.
“TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU”
6. What did Jesus mean when he said: “Take my yoke upon you”?
6 When Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you,” he may have meant “Accept my authority.” He could also have meant “Get under the yoke with me, and together we will work for Jehovah.” Either way, the yoke entails work.
7. According to Matthew 28:18-20, what work have we been given to do, and of what can we be certain?
7 We accept Jesus’ invitation when we dedicate our lives to Jehovah and get baptized. That invitation is open to all—Jesus will never reject anyone who sincerely wants to serve God. (John 6:37, 38) All of Christ’s followers have been given the privilege of sharing in the work that Jehovah has asked Jesus to do. We can be certain that Jesus will always be there to help us do that work.—Read Matthew 28:18-20.
“LEARN FROM ME”
8-9. Why were humble people drawn to Jesus, and what questions should we ask ourselves?
8 Humble people were drawn to Jesus. (Matt. 19:13, 14; Luke 7:37, 38) Why? Consider the contrast between Jesus and the Pharisees. Those religious leaders were cold and arrogant. (Matt. 12:9-14) Jesus was warm and humble. The Pharisees were ambitious and proud of their high position in society. Jesus discouraged undue ambition, and he taught his disciples to view themselves as lowly servants. (Matt. 23:2, 6-11) The Pharisees dominated others through fear and intimidation. (John 9:13, 22) Jesus refreshed others by loving acts and kind words.
9 Have you learned these lessons from Jesus? Ask yourself: ‘Do I have a reputation for being mild-tempered and humble? Do I willingly do menial jobs to serve others? Am I kind to others?’
10. What work environment did Jesus create?
10 Jesus created a peaceful, inviting environment for his fellow workers, and he enjoyed training them. (Luke 10:1, 19-21) He encouraged his disciples to ask questions, and he wanted to hear their opinions. (Matt. 16:13-16) Much like plants in a greenhouse, the disciples flourished. They absorbed the lessons that Jesus taught and produced fruit in the form of good works.
11. What questions should we ask ourselves?
11 Do you have a position of authority? If so, ask yourself: ‘What kind of environment do I create at work or at home? Do I promote peace? Do I encourage others to ask questions? And am I willing to hear their opinions?’ Never would we want to be like the Pharisees, who resented those who questioned them and persecuted those who expressed an opinion contrary to their own.—Mark 3:1-6; John 9:29-34.
“YOU WILL FIND REFRESHMENT”
12-14. Why is the work that Jesus has given us to do refreshing?
12 Why is it refreshing for us to do the work Jesus has given us? There are many reasons, but consider just a few.
13 We have the best overseers. Jehovah, our Supreme Overseer, is not a thankless or harsh master. He appreciates the work we do. (Heb. 6:10) And he gives us the power that we need to carry our load of responsibility. (2 Cor. 4:7; Gal. 6:5, ftn.) Jesus, our King, leads by example. (John 13:15) And the elders who shepherd us try to imitate Jesus, “the great shepherd.” (Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:2) They strive to be kind, encouraging, and courageous as they feed and protect us.
14 We have the best companions. No other people have a sense of purpose or a bond of love like ours. Just think: We have the privilege of working with people who have the highest moral standards but who are not self-righteous. They are talented but modest, and they consider others superior to them. They view us not only as fellow workers but also as friends. And that bond is so close that they are willing to give their lives for us!
15. How should we feel about the work that we are doing?
15 We have the best work. We teach people the truth about Jehovah and expose the lies told by the Devil. (John 8:44) Satan loads people down with burdens they cannot carry. For example, he wants us to believe that Jehovah will not forgive us for our sins and that we are unlovable. What a crushing burden, and what a terrible lie! When we “come to” Christ, our sins are forgiven. And the truth is that Jehovah loves all of us deeply. (Rom. 8:32, 38, 39) How rewarding it is to help people learn to rely on Jehovah and to see them improve their lives!
CONTINUE TO FIND REFRESHMENT UNDER JESUS’ YOKE
16. How is the load that Jesus asks us to carry different from other loads that we must bear?
16 The load that Jesus asks us to carry is different from other loads that we must bear. For example, at the end of a day of secular work, many feel not only exhausted but also unfulfilled. By contrast, after spending time serving Jehovah and Christ, we feel a deep sense of satisfaction. We may be exhausted at the end of a workday and have to push ourselves to attend a congregation meeting that night. But often we come home from that meeting refreshed and energized. The same is true when we make the effort to preach and to do our personal Bible study. The reward we receive is far greater than the energy we expend!
17. Why must we be realistic and careful?
17 We must be realistic. Each of us has a certain amount of energy. So we must be careful about what we take on. For example, we could waste energy trying to gather material possessions. Note what Jesus said to a rich young man who asked him: “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” The young man was already obeying the Law. He must have been a decent man because Mark’s Gospel account specifically states that Jesus “felt love for him.” Jesus presented the young ruler with an invitation. “Go, sell what things you have,” Jesus said, “and come be my follower.” The man was torn, but it appears that he could not let go of his “many possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22) As a result, he rejected the yoke that Jesus had offered him and continued to slave “for Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) What choice would you have made?
18. What should we do occasionally, and why?
18 From time to time, it is good for us to reassess our priorities in life. Why? So that we can make sure that we are using our energy wisely. Consider what a young man named Mark says: “For many years, I thought I was living a simple life. I was pioneering, but I was always thinking about money and about making my life more comfortable. I wondered why my life had become a burden. Then I realized that I was mostly seeking my own interests first and giving Jehovah the time and energy that was left over.” Mark adjusted his thinking and lifestyle and made himself available to do more in Jehovah’s service. “I feel anxious at times,” Mark says, “but with Jehovah’s help and Jesus’ backing, I have overcome my challenges.”
19. Why is having the right perspective so important?
19 We will continue to find refreshment under Jesus’ yoke if we do three things. First, keep the right perspective. We are doing Jehovah’s work, so it must be done Jehovah’s way. We are the workers, and Jehovah is the Master. (Luke 17:10) If we try to do his work our way, we will find ourselves fighting against the yoke. Even a powerful bull is likely to injure and exhaust itself if it constantly tries to go in its own direction and fights against the yoke that its master controls. On the other hand, we can do extraordinary things and overcome any obstacle if we follow Jehovah’s guidance. Remember that nobody can stop his will from being accomplished!—Rom. 8:31; 1 John 4:4.
20. What should be our motive for coming under Jesus’ yoke?
20 Second, act with the right motive. Our goal is to bring glory to our loving Father, Jehovah. Those in the first century who were motivated by greed or self-interest soon became unhappy and abandoned Jesus’ yoke. (John 6:25-27, 51, 60, 66; Phil. 3:18, 19) By contrast, those who were motivated by an unselfish love of God and love of neighbor happily carried that yoke throughout their life on earth, with the prospect of serving with Christ in heaven. Like them, we will remain happy by carrying Jesus’ yoke with the right motive.
21. According to Matthew 6:31-33, what can we expect Jehovah to do?
21 Third, have the right expectations. We have chosen a life of self-sacrifice and hard work. Jesus warned us that we would be persecuted. But we can expect that Jehovah will give us the strength to endure any challenge. The more we endure, the stronger we will become. (Jas. 1:2-4) We can also expect that Jehovah will provide for us, that Jesus will shepherd us, and that our brothers and sisters will encourage us. (Read Matthew 6:31-33; John 10:14; 1 Thess. 5:11) What more do we really need?
22. For what can we be thankful?
22 The woman whom Jesus cured was refreshed on the very day that she was healed. But she would receive lasting refreshment only if she became a loyal disciple of Christ. What do you think she did? If she did choose to come under Jesus’ yoke, imagine the reward—serving with Jesus in heaven! Any sacrifices she had made to follow Christ would pale in comparison with that blessing. No matter what our hope is—living forever in heaven or on earth—how thankful we can be that we have accepted Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me!”
SONG 13 Christ, Our Model
^ par. 5 Jesus invites us to come to him. What is involved in accepting his invitation? This article will answer that question, and it will remind us of how we can be refreshed by working along with Christ.