What does Matthew 11:29 mean?
ESV: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
NIV: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
NASB: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
CSB: Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
NLT: Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Verse Commentary:
A yoke is a wooden device used to harness the working power of an animal, especially oxen. These could be made for a single animal, or to combine the power of several. Jewish people described living under obedience to the Law as having a yoke upon them. In Jesus' time, the Pharisees made that load even heavier by adding manmade requirements and regulations on top of the law of Moses (Matthew 23:4).

Jesus has declared that He knows God the Father and that He can reveal God to whomever He chooses. Then He invited His listeners to come to Him and take His yoke, to commit to Him and put themselves under His authority. He has promised rest to those who do this (Matthew 11:28). Now He elaborates, inviting these listeners to put His yoke on them.

The implication is to allow Jesus to put His own yoke on us, the way a farmer would put one on his livestock. It means giving Jesus control and letting Him direct our efforts. The work He has will not be difficult, Jesus says. He wants them to learn from Him. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus insists that He is gentle. He is lowly in heart (Philippians 2:6–7). He has not come to add to their burden but to give them rest for their souls.

This statement is from an entirely different perspective than Christ's earlier comments on the wide and narrow gates. There, Jesus had said that the path to life was narrow and difficult (Matthew 7:14). In that context, Jesus was speaking of the world's view: that following Christ meant taking on difficult circumstances. This is certainly true, since being a follower of Christ often means being persecuted (John 16:33). What Jesus refers to here, however, is the perspective of eternity. Compared to the impossible task of earning one's own salvation (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16), Jesus offers something infinitely "easier" (Matthew 11:30).

By making this comment, Jesus is not offering freedom from commitment. His yoke is still a yoke: it still comes with demands from a holy God. But the apostle John will later write that obedience to the God we love is not burdensome (1 John 5:3). This is true in part, the gospels will reveal, because Jesus will carry the ultimate burden of our sin for us and will provide power in the Holy Spirit to carry out His will.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:25–30 begins with Jesus' prayer of thanks to His Father for hiding the truth from those thought to be wise by the world's standards. Instead, the gospel has been revealed to those the unbelieving world dismisses as virtual children. Jesus declares that He and the Father know each other completely and that He can reveal the Father to anyone He chooses. He offers rest for the souls of all who are weighed down and weary if they will take on His yoke, saying that His burden is easy and light.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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