John Laurie

Matthew 11: 28

         These words, dear friends, although written by Matthew, were spoken by the Lord Jesus.  There is always a special appeal about the personal words of the Lord Jesus; I would love to be able to convey something of the fervency of the appeal that undoubtedly was in the Lord’s heart when He uttered these precious words, “Come to me”.  There are many burdened hearts in this world; many under the burden of a guilty conscience.  Maybe you feel burdened here tonight.  It is a very precious thing that the words that the Lord Jesus spoke here are presented in a thoroughly unqualified way.  He did not suggest any discrimination in regard of the persons who might be enabled to obtain the rest and blessing through coming to Himself, but the word is addressed so freely and so appealingly to all.  He says, “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened”.

         Sin brings in distance.  That is evident from what happened initially when, although Adam and Eve were in such favourable circumstances in the garden; as soon as the guilt of their disobedience weighed in upon their consciences they sought to hide.  Nearness was lost, with its liberty and blessedness.  That is what sin does; it tends to drive you away.  But the Saviour’s appeal would be to draw you near.  You may say, ‘I am not fit to come’.  It is a very marvellous thing, dear friends, that in the gospel the God who appeals to us knows better than any the extent and guilt of our sin, but He has made such provision for our salvation through the work of His own beloved Son that He is enabled, in perfect righteousness, to propose mercy for the guilty sinner who would return in repentance and seek for His salvation.  I find that a great comfort.  You might say, ‘Does God really know all about my sinful history and my personal guilt?’.  He does!  The all-seeing eye of God knows all these details.  From one point of view that is an extremely searching thing, but from another point of view it is something to be deeply thankful for insofar as the mercy that God is proposing towards you in Christ Jesus will make a full and complete clearance of it.  Such is the value of the Saviour’s work; God is presenting Christ as a mercy-seat: salvation is available in Jesus. 

         I will tell you a little detail that might be of interest.  The mercy-seat was never set upon the two tables of stone that contained all the commandments.  These two tables set out the demands of God’s righteousness and it was sadly proved that none could meet them.  But the mercy-seat was put on the ark.  It shows that God is outshining towards us in Christ Jesus, the One who has answered to every detail of the will of God.  The Person now known as the Son of God came here into a condition of flesh and blood in order that He might move in a pathway entirely in keeping with the will and pleasure of God.  How perfectly blessed was the life of the Lord Jesus; necessarily so, for had there been a flaw in that life the sacrifice would have been unsuitable.  We give God thanks for the perfection, inwardly and outwardly, that marked the Lord Jesus at every point; that made Him the entirely suitable Sacrifice.  He went forward to the cross amidst opposition, amidst difficulty, but never ever turned aside.  How beautiful Luke’s comment about the Lord Jesus that “he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem”, chap 9: 51.  In the prophet Isaiah we are reminded that his face was set “like a flint”, chap 50: 7.  But there is a slight difference to be appreciated in the word used there by Luke, “he stedfastly set his face”.  There was still the same perfect devotedness to pursue the pathway to completion, but it was accomplished in all the grace that characterised the perfect movements of the Lord Jesus as a Man here.  Think of that unswerving devotion that led Him to the cross; there He took up the question of my sins before a righteous God.  I can say, through marvellous mercy, that my guilt and the whole charge that lay against me have been righteously removed forever by the finished work of the Lord Jesus; His precious shed blood bringing in that cleansing power that has set me free.  Thank God for everyone who can speak with joy of the blessedness of being forgiven; how blessed to be forgiven! 

         There is a gravestone in this country on which there is only a single word written; no name of any person, no date of death, no detail of circumstances; simply one word on the gravestone, “Forgiven”.  Oh the blessedness of being forgiven.  That is a scriptural thought: “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven”, Ps 32: 1.  Have you got the joy of that in your soul, dear friend?  How blessed to have the burden lifted.  It says here, “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened”.  How blessed to find the burden on our consciences gone through the joy of obtaining forgiveness; it is something we could never have accomplished for ourselves.  If there is any suggestion that we might add something by our labours, then we may labour forever, but never be able to meet the requirements of a holy God.  Think of men seeking, sadly, to do the best that they can in order to merit favour with God.  It is right that we ought to do the best that we can but it is not the basis of our salvation; the ground of our salvation lies in the solid work accomplished by the Lord Jesus in perfect righteousness and in glory to God by the way it was done. 

         What cost it was to the Saviour!  Have you any valuation and appreciation of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus?  No tongue can tell what it cost my blessed Saviour to go that way.  The gospel writers tell us a good deal about the circumstances surrounding the unjust trial of the Lord Jesus.  They tell us about his crucifixion.  They tell us about those hours of darkness.  Matthew, Mark and Luke bringing out many of these details concerning the way that the Saviour went.  But no one can tell us about the intensity and depth of all that the Lord Himself had to bear when forsaken there during those solemn hours on the cross when all around was darkness.  It seemed as if God was screening the gaze of unappreciative and unholy men from all that the Saviour was enduring when forsaken of God. 

         I may add, in case there should be any suggestion of doubt, He was not forsaken on account of any personal guilt.  He had continually enjoyed throughout the whole of His pathway such blessed communion, such holy liberty and nearness in the joy of His relationships with the Father.  But then came the point when He was forsaken by God; He made Him sin for us, 2 Cor 5: 21.  He became the Bearer of that guilt which required the full just judgment of God.  Ah, thank God for the work of the Saviour; for all that was accomplished there on the cross, by His shed blood, by His going into death, and by His triumphant rising from the grave!  What a wonderful witness to the complete victory of all that was accomplished by the Lord Jesus.  He is in glory now at God’s right hand.  You may ask me how I can be sure that God is completely satisfied with what Christ has done; there is a witness in that the Accomplisher of the work has been seated at God’s right hand, seated on God’s throne.  No other will ever share the Father’s throne; it is an exclusive place given to His own beloved Son.  It is expressive of the Father’s delight in the Son, but it is also expressive of the Father’s full appreciation of the work that He has done, for He has been exalted to that point consequent upon all that He has accomplished. 

         O what a Saviour is Jesus the Lord!

                     (Hymn 169)

         Do you then know the joy of having that burden of your sins lifted?  What a blessed invitation comes from the lips of the Lord Jesus: “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened”.  God has that great thought in His heart for men that they should be brought near unto Himself.  It will be the eternal enjoyment of those blessed, who have been liberated and cleansed from their sins and are in the enjoyment of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit’s power, to know and prove eternal happiness and nearness.  Oh, what a wonderful thing to be brought nigh unto God.  It has been at great cost.  By the blood of the Christ, the apostle says, we have been brought nigh unto God, Eph 2: 13.  What cost has been involved in order that we should be brought nigh.  But, oh, the value in that precious shed blood!

         We may recall that a soldier pierced the side of the Lord Jesus, and precious blood and water flowed forth.  A callous act in itself, but it did not call out revenge on the part of the Saviour; it gives us to understand that love brought out the answer which was superior to all the hatred of men.  Oh that your heart might come into the joy of all that God would bring you into.  We hardly know the fulness of the proposals of divine love.  From one point of view, I would accept that they have been unfolded, and especially so through the service of the apostle Paul.  He opened up the wealth of the counsels of God; but such is the richness of them that I think most of us would say we have hardly taken in the fulness of the scope and blessedness of all that God would enrich us through by His own blessing.  “Every spiritual blessing”, the apostle Paul says in the epistle to the Ephesians, chap 1: 3.  I have been speaking mostly about the joy of forgiveness and of the burden of guilt being lifted.  But think of the enrichment that God would bestow upon the soul and, as the Lord Jesus Himself was proposing here, to bring us into the enjoyment of His love.  For it is Jesus Himself that gives that rest.  He says, “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest”: “I will give you rest.”  Oh what undisturbed repose to be held in the power and blessedness and nearness of the love of Jesus.

         I have carried for a long time a precious thought to me about the love of the Lord Jesus.  We were speaking in the reading about the appreciation of the spouse in the Song of Songs who had her beloved, and one of the interesting things that she says in the expression of her love is, “His hands gold rings, set with the chrysolite”, chap 5: 14.  I enjoy that thought; it appeals to me that we are held by the hands of the Lord Jesus in love, as if encircled by an unbroken circle.  It is a love that cannot be broken, and that nothing can separate us from.  How attractive in that it is likened to rings set with a chrysolite.  What a wonderful impression of the encircling, abiding love of the Lord Jesus in all its distinctive blessedness!  May it appeal to your heart, dear friend.  May you come into the joy of being held by its power and blessedness, and know the rest that will come into your soul.

         But then there are other things burden persons; I am conscious that there are hearts burdened here today for other reasons.  What a blessed thing to draw near to the Lord Jesus, to unburden your heart to Him.  It may be that there are things that arise in our lives and histories that we would not particularly care to tell to any other.  It may be something arises that you think no other is really able to help you about.  There is no matter too great for Him, and there is no matter that the Saviour will not be willing to listen to; and He is able to bring in His own touch of blessing in relation to matters, as we confide everything to Him.  There might be times when you may feel it would not be appropriate to disturb your father and mother during the night to tell them about something that is burdening you; the Saviour is always available: He never sleeps.  You can speak to the Lord Jesus night and day at any point.  You may say to me, ‘Will He not tire of me continually drawing near?’.  Such is the love of the Saviour’s heart that He never tires!  Oh how wonderful to have One to whom we can always speak.  What a Friend we have in Jesus, what a Lover; what a Shepherd, what a One to carry us the whole way through! 

         And then to know the blessedness too of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord Jesus said, “I will give you rest”, but the Spirit of God is readily given to those who believe and are marked by obedience.  The Spirit of God would bring such persons into the full consciousness of these things.  He would bring us in to know the blessedness of the rest and to experience the joy of the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts.  What a wonderful gift!  He helps us; He strengthens us.  I would seek to encourage hearts here that might be burdened, whatever the nature of the burden, to come to Jesus.  The Lord Jesus does not indicate in this passage that only certain characters of burden, or certain types of difficulty, should be addressed to Himself, but He says, “Come unto me, all ye who labour and are burdened”.  How beautiful that comprehensive word is: “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest”.  Oh the sufficiency of the Saviour’s love.  Oh the wonder of that love that would bring us in to share in all that He enjoys.  We have been speaking together about the joys of sonship, the favour of being before God as Father.  The Lord Jesus would draw us to where we learn that we have become sharers of His joy.  He did not hold back any words that His Father gave Him to speak.  He did not hold back from doing anything that His Father had given Him to do.  All that was in the Father’s heart was so fully expressed in the Son in manhood here.  He would draw us in to share in all the blessed proposals of divine love and bring us into the liberty and joy of sonship, to know our place in joy before His Father; to give us a hope!  What hope could men truly have in this scene where so much is going into disarray and confusion?  Our hope is in a Man in the glory; Christ Jesus is our Hope, 1 Tim 1: 1.  He is coming again; He said so to His own.  Those beautiful words come in as a comfort in John 14: 1: “Let not your heart be troubled”.  It is as if the Lord would say that if there be any doubt in your hearts whatsoever, let this word come home with assurance to you.  “In my Father’s house there are many abodes; were it not so, I had told you: for I go to prepare you a place”, v 2.  And He is coming again to receive us to Himself. 

         May we be held in the brightness of that hope.  It brings about a quickening in the footstep as we are looking towards the goal, keeping before us that blessed Object, and being preserved in the brightness of our hope.  May it burn brightly in the hearts of all here.  The days around may be dark but the hope is bright and the coming is assured.  May you then put your trust in the Saviour.  May you then come to Him if you have a burdened heart.  He proposes it Himself: “Come … and I will give you rest.”  May it yield joy and comfort to our hearts, and may it yield joy to the heart of the Lord Jesus as there is an increase in the number of those who love Him, and of fervency in the hearts of those who already do. 

For His glory.

Aberdeen, Idaho

3rd July 2016