I Will Give You Rest
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
What did Jesus mean when He said “I will give you rest.”?
During the time of Jesus' earthly ministry the religious leader had become legalistic (seeking to justify themselves by their works). We read in the gospels that they had put their traditions in the place of Scripture (cf. Mark 7:8-13). They imposed for themselves regulations for the Sabbath. They in effect “shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men” even themselves (cf. Matt 23:13) by the laws that they imposed.
“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23:4).
Jesus The True Rest
In the Old Testament, God set apart the seventh day as a day of rest. The people of God were not supposed to work on the day but to remember what God has done for them by bringing them out of Egypt (Deut. 5:12-15). Paul in Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that this was a “shadow” of things to come of which the substance belongs to Christ.
What that means is that Christ becomes that true rest. When we are in Christ we also rest from working out our own righteousness. Christ fulfilled the law in our place, we enter that rest. This doesn't mean however that we don't do good works, but that we stop doing good works to earn a right standing with God as we are already made right before God by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Rest In Heaven
When man sinned against God, God put a curse on him. God said to man: “In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life… In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground.” (Gen 3:17,19). But through Jesus alone we find a rest (cf Heb 4:10), which He has prepared for His people in heaven (cf. John 14:2). Even though unbelievers won't be working physically in hell after they die, they won't be resting either.
Christ gives us rest from working our own righteousness and also He prepares for us a resting place in heaven. And it is in this hope that we 'rest assured'.
Soli Deo Gloria