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. Matthew 11:29
My high school cross-country coach once advised me before a race, “Don’t try to be in the lead. The leaders almost always burn out too quickly.” Instead, he suggested I stay close behind the fastest runners. By letting them set the pace, I could conserve the mental and physical strength I’d need to finish the race well.
Leading can be exhausting; following can be freeing. Knowing this improved my running, but it took me a lot longer to realize how this applies to Christian discipleship. In my own life, I was prone to think being a believer in Jesus meant trying really hard. By pursuing my own exhausting expectations for what a Christian should be, I was inadvertently missing the joy and freedom found in simply following Him (John 8:32, 36).
But we weren’t meant to direct our own lives, and Jesus didn’t start a self-improvement program. Instead, He promised that in seeking Him we will find the rest we long for (Matthew 11:25–28). Unlike many other religious teachers’ emphasis on rigorous study of Scripture or an elaborate set of rules, Jesus taught that it’s simply through knowing Him that we know God (v. 27). In seeking Him, we find our heavy burdens lifted (vv. 28–30) and our lives transformed.
Because following Him, our gentle and humble Leader (v. 29), is never burdensome—it’s the way of hope and healing. Resting in His love, we are free.
Lord, I’m so thankful I don’t have to be in charge of my own life. Help me rest in You.
True freedom is found in following Christ.
“Following Jesus” may be the best way to describe the essence of the Christian life. Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 nkjv), which means He is both the starting point and the culmination of our rescue—a reality secured by the cross. His resurrection is part of this as well. Paul said, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). The term firstfruits reminds us that Jesus secured our restoration to the Father through His death and subsequent victory over death. This victory is at the heart of His call to us: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Peter added of the Savior’s sufferings, “You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 nasb).
What better response to His sacrifice could we ever give than to simply and wholeheartedly follow Him?