This Week's Focus Passage

Matthew 11:28 ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.’

Matthew 11:28 ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.’


Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

             —Matthew 11:28-30

This is surely one of the favorite passages for the Arminian preacher, even perhaps one that seems to be a veritable ‘altar call’ laid in his lap. All that he further needs to do is to convince the will of his hearer that he is among those of whom Christ has here spoken; namely, that he is laboring; that he is heavy laden; that all he need do is come down the aisle and lay his burdens upon Jesus and he will receive the desired and promised rest. Take Christ’s yoke upon you, and learn of Him, the speaker iterates. Come unto me! It is not uncommon for the image referred to in the passage to be set before the hearers of this taking His yoke upon you as a joint effort between man and Jesus. It is alleged that a yoke is usually employed to connect two of these beasts of burden together; to yoke them together; to share the work of plowing the field. This actually is a popular understanding of the passage and verse. And it fits nicely to make reference to the ‘meek and lowly’ Jesus; the same ‘meek and lowly’ One in the well-known painting, standing at a door and knocking; that is, helplessly knocking on the door of the sinner, pleading to be let in. Jesus has done it all, it is said. But for some strange reason, you must do something. In this case, you must open the door. Or you must take the yoke upon you. O, won’t you please open the door? Won’t you please let Christ in? Won’t you take His yoke upon you? Just take that first step. Get up from your seat and come forward to the front. Jesus walked that long path to Golgotha alone for you; won’t you walk this short aisle for Him?

Is it not truly remarkable for a people that, arguably, believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate; that He is God manifested in the flesh; that being God He, as is the Father and Holy Spirit, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent; especially omnipotent, and who alone is capable of satisfying God’s justice in order to accomplish forgiveness, justification, redemption for His people, yet is surprisingly not omnipotent (omnipotence, of course, rules out any possibility of limits) enough to open a door to the sinner’s heart? The Arminian believes, however, that there is such a thing as synergism, whether or not they know the definition of that term, or its multifaceted ramifications with respect to truth.

With regard to the passage before us, synergism—synergism may be most simply defined as combined action—is exposed as fallacy in the paragraph, or passage itself. And this exposure is accomplished in the words of the very verse which precedes our passage, namely, Matthew 11:27. Hear what Christ has spoken just prior to Him calling out, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden. This is the extraordinary and profound statement of Truth from the very lips of the God-man Himself:

All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save [or, except] the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him.—Matt. 11:27 (American Standard Version-1901).

It is the will of Jesus Christ that is paramount, not the will of any man. Only those to whom He reveals the Father can know the Father. And no one can know the Son except the Father. Even the famous John 3:16 points to this reality that to know the Son, we must know the Father.

For God [the Father] so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Father gave the Son. When Jesus’ antagonists responded to His asseveration that it is the Father that sent me beareth witness of me (John 8:18) with their own:

Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye know neither me, nor my Father: if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also.

To know the One is to know the Other. This is what Jesus said in Matt. 11:27 (above). He spoke this truth to one of His disciples in this remarkable passage. (John 8:8, 9)

Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?

No one knows the Son except the Father. And it is His Father of whom Christ speaks elsewhere when He clearly insists that none can; no man can—underline the word, can—come to me unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). This is why it is so futile for preachers to demand that individuals come to Christ by coming down an aisle. No matter how often they may think to entice these folk, they will only come to Christ—not at the command of the preacher and not down an aisle—as the Father  that sent His Son draws them to come, having made them willing in the day of His power through regenerating grace upon the heart of that sinner.

It is equally the Father, through God the Holy Spirit that makes the sinner understand that he, or she, is laboring under an insurmountable weight of sin with which they are heavily laden. This is the result of regenerating grace. This the effect of the promise of that grace found in Jeremiah 31:33, I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it. This New Covenant promise is expressed in Ezekiel 36:26 causing us to understand that Jeremiah’s inward parts is the new heart upon which God has written His law. The sinner now begins to see his sin and know much more of the God he has sinned against, making that sin against an absolutely Holy God to be a greater burden than he can bear; he must fly to Christ for rest.


David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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