28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Lord invites all of his children, throughout the whole world to ‘Come unto me’. To ‘the Jews’ who sought to kill him, Jesus said:
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40).
Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever we have done, Jesus wants us to come unto Him that we might have life. Elder Richard C Edgeley said:
The Savior said, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Knock, and it shall be [given] you” (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism. (General Conference, October 2010)
He specifically invites those who ‘labour and are heavy laden’. What causes us to labour and be heavy laden. One of the main burdens we carry is sin and this burden can be taken from us through the Saviour’s atonement. President James E Faust describes this wonderful blessing:
“There is hope for all to be healed through repentance and obedience…After our full repentance, the formula is wonderfully simple. Indeed, the Lord has given it to us in these words: ‘Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?’ (3 Nephi 9:12) In so doing, we have his promise that ‘he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3).
“We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and Christ extends this invitation to us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). The apostle Peter speaks of ‘casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, ‘I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. . . . I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul’ (Jeremiah 31:13, 25).
Other common burdens are sorrow and loss, pain and ill health. Elder Faust goes on to promise that the Lord can lift these burdens also:
“In the celestial glory, we are told, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain’ (Revelation 21:4). Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we ‘should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ’ (Alma 31:38). May we live to be worthy of that glorious day of rejoicing.” (Finding Light in a Dark World, 31-2.)
Jesus Christ has the power to heal us whether our afflictions be physical, social, mental or spiritual. He can and will give us rest from these afflictions if we come unto him and take his yoke. To take His yoke upon us is to unite ourselves with Him, to avail ourselves of his divine power.
President Howard W Hunter explained:
“Take my yoke upon you,” he pleads. In biblical times the yoke was a device of great assistance to those who tilled the field. It allowed the strength of a second animal to be linked and coupled with the effort of a single animal, sharing and reducing the heavy labor of the plow or wagon. A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke. His yoke requires a great and earnest effort, but for those who truly are converted, the yoke is easy and the burden becomes light.
Why face life’s burdens alone, Christ asks, or why face them with temporal support that will quickly falter? To the heavy laden it is Christ’s yoke, it is the power and peace of standing side by side with a God that will provide the support, balance, and the strength to meet our challenges and endure our tasks here in the hardpan field of mortality.”
Sometimes I hear members of the Church murmuring that it is hard to be a member of the Church, that it is hard to keep the commandments, to keep striving to perfect ourselves. This may sometimes be true, but I believe that it is incomparably harder to live life without the Gospel, to not know the purpose of life, to not know what has happened to our loved ones who have passed on, to have nor sure light or voice guiding us through life’s darknesses and to have no relief for sin. As Neal A Maxwell says:
“[Christ’s] yoke, when fully and squarely placed upon us, is much lighter than the weight of sin. No burden is as heavy as the burden of the ‘natural man’! The annoying load of ambivalence and the hecticness of hesitation produce their own aggravations and frustrations.” (Men and Women of Christ, p. 103.)
Perhaps if we find that we resent the yoke, or we find it burdensome or it chafes on our shoulders, it is because we have not ‘fully and squarely’ placed it upon us. Elder Maxwell continues:
Actually the partially yoked experience little spiritual satisfaction, because they are burdened by carrying the awful weight of the natural man-without any of the joys that come from progressing toward becoming ‘the man of Christ.’ They have scarcely ‘[begun] to be enlightened’ (Alma 32:34). The meek and fully yoked, on the other hand, find God’s reassuring grace and see their weakness yielding to strength (see Ether 12:27).
“Strange as it seems, a few of the partially yoked, undeservedly wearing the colors of the kingdom, are just close enough to the prescribed path and process to be able to observe in others some of the visible costs of discipleship. Sobered by that observation, they want victory without battle and expect campaign ribbons merely for watching; but there is no witness until after the trial of their faith (see Ether 12:6).” (Men and Women of Christ, 2.)
We can struggle along in darkness, bowed down by our burdens, not knowing where we are going – or we can come unto the Saviour and accept his help, his grace, his atonement.