Free Rest! (Bonar)

Here’s a very helpful devotional commentary on many parts of Scripture: Light and Truth by Horatius Bonar. [Bonar was a 19th century Scottish pastor and hymn writer. For example, he wrote “Not What My Hands Have Done”]. Light and Truth isn’t a commentary on every passage of Scripture. Instead, it’s a devotional sort of commentary on various texts in the OT and NT. If you’re looking for a devotional that will help you read through parts of Scripture, you may want to check this one out! Anyway, here’s a section I read today based on Matthew 11:28 (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. NIV). The title of this devotional is “The Rest and the Rest-Giver.”

…But now let us mark the substance of the Lord’s invitation, as thus given out to the worst and most weary of the sons of men. That which is promised here is rest. This rest is for the weary. This rest is a gift. This gift is from Christ. This gift is obtained by going to this Christ.

(1.) Here is rest. It is what God calls rest; and therefore must be truly such. It is what man needs; and without which he must drag on a weary sorrowful life. You need rest, O man! Here it is for you. Never did you need it more than in this restless, noisy, bustling, pleasure-loving age. Do not reject it. Rest for the weary! This is our message.

(2.) This rest is a gift. It cannot be bought with money, nor found by search, nor obtained by travel. It is a gift. Free rest! This is our gospel. Rest to all who need it. Rest to any one who will take it. O free gift of rest, how art thou despised by the sons of men! They are weary, and would buy rest at any price; but they will not take it free!

(3.) This rest is Christ’s gift. “I will give you rest.” I will refresh you. I will be as the dew unto Israel, refreshing and reviving, after the heat of the day. From the hand of Christ alone it comes. He brought it with him from heaven, and he gives it to us. It is blood-bought rest. It is love-given rest. Jesus stands with this precious blessing in his hand; or rather He goes up to every weary child of Adam and offers him rest,—his own rest —the rest of the Father and the Son.

(4.) This rest is for the weary. Simply for those who need it! For all Christ’s gifts are suitable. I am the resting-place, He says; weary sinner, sit down here; sit down, just because you are weary. As the thirsty man drinks because he is thirsty, and the hungry eats because he is hungry, so the weary rest, because they are weary! How near is rest to us! How simple is God’s way of giving it!

(5.) This rest is got by coming to Christ. It is only from Him that we can get it; and there must be a direct dealing with Him concerning it. The knowledge of Him is rest! His words are rest! His cross is rest! All we know concerning him is rest! We try other resting-places; let us try this. We go to others; let us go to Him. Let us transact with Him. It is the weary that He welcomes! It is with the weary that He delights to share his blessed rest! Go to Him for rest, O weary one! He will not deny it.

He invites. Come unto me! Is not that enough? Do you need further warrant?

He beckons. It is as if he were stretching out his hands,—beckoning you to draw near!

He beseeches. His are earnest words, and He himself is in earnest, thoroughly in earnest. He entreats you to take his rest….

He commands. The words before us are imperative. He commands you to come. You cannot lose this rest, except by deliberately disobeying his command! Could rest be brought nearer than this? …

Bonar, Horatius, Light and Truth: Or, Bible Thoughts and Themes, the Gospels (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1871).

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015