For the sake of clarity we once more call attention to the trend of thought we have thus far noticed in the verses 25 through 28. This trend of thought is as follows:
1. That Jesus thanks and exalts the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that He has hid the Mysteries of the Kingdom from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto the babes. We noticed that Jesus emphatically thanks the Father not only that He has “revealed” these things to the “babes,” but that, he has also “hid” these things from the wise and the prudent.
2. That when Jesus explains and reveals the deeper background of this “revealing” of the things of God’s Kingdom to the “babes,” He tells us that this entire work of “revealing” has been delivered into His hands and into His authority. He reveals the Mysteries to whom he will; it is solely in His sovereign will to reveal or not to reveal. He reveals it to those whom the Father has given Him. And to the “rest” it is not given to understand the Mysteries of the Kingdom; from these it is hid. Seeing they see and perceive not, and hearing they hear and understand not, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and repent and God should heal them.
3. That, further, the weary and heavy laden are called to rest by Christ in harmony with this will of Christ to reveal it to some and not to others. The “whosoever believeth” is in perfect dependent relation to the “to whomsoever? I will to reveal the Father.” Surely the objects of the revelation of the Father by the Son will come as weary and heavy laden ones.
However, we now come to a very interesting and practical matter here in this portion.
The text reads as follows: Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In this passage we are dealing with the spiritual-psychological aspect of the making known by Christ of the: Father’s love, and the appropriation of this revelation of the Father’s love by the called sinner, in his learning to know the spiritual secret being disclosed to him, so that he “finds” rest for his soul.
In passing we would remark that in this passage we have some profound, yet clear and lucid principles of “Soul-care” in the church. Here are principles which are far higher and different than what modem psychiatry has to offer. The latter imagines itself to have attained when they have treated the patient with the approach of what is called “Psycho-Somatic” medicine. Here in this passage Jesus clearly indicates that the secret of rest for the “soul” is not at all simply a matter of the “mind,” of thought-patterns, stream of consciousness, but that it is a deeply spiritual-ethical question of standing in the proper relationship toward God. That the question of bodily health enters into the picture no one will deny, who has made a serious study of Scripture in regard to the effect which a rebellious attitude toward God and fellowman can have upon our health. Read Psalm 32:3, 4, “when I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” And let it be clearly understood that this poetry portrays a very dreadful reality in David’s life—until he rested in the sweetness of forgiving love.
The minister and elder, who does not see the deep principles here of soul-care in the church, is responsible that the work of the Church is often relegated to the psychiatrist,” who lacks both the insight and the authority to “care for the souls as they, who must give account.” Heb. 13:17.
Wherefore, lest this accusation return to our own door, let us give heed to the instruction of Christ in this important Scripture passage.
The great boon, which Christ here promises to all who take “his yoke” upon them is “ye shall find rest for your souls.”
Concerning this sentence “ye shall find rest for your souls,” it should be observed, that this is a quotation from Jer. 6:16 where we read, “Thus saith the LORD, stand ye in the ways, and see, ask for the old paths, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” If anything is clear from this passage it is this: a man finds rest for his soul only when that soul is right with God and, therefore, “asks for the old paths and walks therein.” And this is not simply a Psycho-Somatic matter, but it is, at bottom, a spiritual-psychological matter; it is a matter of repentance with the whole heart. And such only the “babes” find because it is revealed to them. And since it is revealed to them they “find” it for their souls.
Rather radical, I hear someone opine.
I reply: the “old paths” often look new and untrodden to those who have never found it, since they are lost in a maze of philosophic speculation, solving life’s riddles, whereas a simple obedience to the Word, yea, a profound obedience of meekness and lowlimindedness is the answer. We then stop peeping and muttering about the “mysteries of life” of which the fickle and superficial and God-hating world sings her vain songs, and know that the solution to the quest for rest for the soul lies in the mystery of faith! And this mystery of faith is the conferring of rest as this is revealed to us in the Mystery of GODLINESS that is great! It is the mystery revealed to the “babes”: I will give you rest!
Such is the radical standpoint of Christ. And is Henot radically, absolutely different with the healing of his wings, than all the panaceas of the would-be soul-care of those, who have no eye for the Scriptural truth, that the outgoings of life are from the heart. And that it is from the evil heart, in relationship to God, that the unrest of man proceeds, for as Augustine, the ancient father, said: Man cannot rest save he rests in God!
The reader should not understand the former remarks about “psychiatry” as if the modern methods of “electrotherapy” etc. did not have their valid place. They do. They have a place, however, fundamentally only in physical therapy. They are, at bottom, no different in effect than the warm or hot bath, or a good night’s sleep. No one denies that a good night’s rest does not afford the physical-psychological stamina to meet the day, together with a good breakfast of bacon and eggs. Neither will anyone deny, that a good meal and night’s sleep will not “raise one’s spirits.” But they will not give rest to the soul of any man, for man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. And when Moses and Christ here speak of “man” they have in mind “man” in the generic sense. The English cannot distinguish man and “man.” The Holland language does; it speaks of “man” in distinction from “mensch.” And since we are concerned with man, man, as created in the image of God, we hold that no meal, bath, electro-therapy (shock-treatment) can give “rest to the soul.” The Holy Spirit, it has always been held in the Church, sovereignly chooses the “means of grace” to work the grace of faith and repentance in our hearts, and thus makes us seek for and find sweet peace for our souls.
I have been approached by psychiatric doctors requesting my observations of what happens in a “shock-treatment” to the patient. I told them I had never observed one, but that they had. They should tell me. They wondered what happened to the “soul” of man. They felt somehow they “helped” a man to raise himself up again in soul and body. However, they wondered what it was. Well, I asked them: what happens to you when you have slept well? You know the effect. Well, that’s my answer. But as little as a night’s sleep will work faith and strengthen faith in my heart, so little will a shock-treatment. And in some cases, where a. man is not deeply humble, a shock-treatment, although it does not work resentment per se, will become the occasion of the sinful reaction of bitterness because of its being a harsh treatment—something like the resentment of a soldier against the “army.”
But “finding rest for the soul” is something which lies II on a different plane. It is a question of spiritual “learning.” When we have learned a profoundly spiritual lesson we will “find rest for our souls.” For the wicked are like the driven sea, their waters cast forth mire; there is no peace to the wicked, and, therefore, no rest for the soul of the wicked. As little as man can lift himself up by his own boot-straps so little can modem psychiatry give “rest to the soul.” At best the unbelieving (not willing the teaching of Scripture, able to give rest to the soul) psychiatry can give a false peace, telling a man that all his troubles are simply psychological, have nothing to do with conscience. And when those, who purport to be Christian psychiatrists, tell their patients, who literally roar with a sense of guilt, that their sense of guilt will leave as soon as the roaring leaves, they have reversed the cause and the effect. If it were not so disastrous for the patient, since it puts him really out of reach of Calvary, I would smile about it and say: My grandfather used to tell me, that, in order to catch a rabbit, one had to place salt on his tail!
I will, however, as long as the Lord gives me breath, believe and, therefore, preach, that as soon as the sense of guilt leaves and all opposition to God is crucified in our souls, then also the roaring is ceased and sweet and blessed peace of heart and soul replace it.
To my surprise, a hospital pastor in one of the Christian Sanitariums, was speaking to me about the soul-care of patients filled with real fears. He wondered how a Christian could possibly come to such a point in life. When I observed that he was speaking to the patients on “attitudes” in life, of jealousy, envy, pride, resentment, I told him that I thought that he was on the right track, that is, on the “old paths.” After some discussion I told him that in the Canons of Dordt, the Fifth Head of Doctrine the answer was given to his question how a Christian could come to that point in the road where all seemed lost, and where the withdrawing of God’s countenance is more bitter than death” and where there are “grievous torments of conscience.”
He asked me, whether I would dare to preach this. And I told him I would not dare not to preach it.
Later I visited that institution again. This time the pastor told me that he had instructed the patients to read the Canons of Dordt, Head of Doctrine V. And it had been of benefit to them. Such had been their testimony. Well, it is good to hear this. However, it would have been true anyway. For it is the old way, the tried way, where all God’s children find rest for their souls.”
Why do they find rest there, and there only? And why do they find rest for their souls in that way whether at Pine Rest or at Bethesda?
The answer is simple: Christ gives rest only to the weary and heavy laden, in the way of their learning to be meek and lowly of heart, since they thus learn Christ and the truth as it is in Jesus.
Next time, the Lord willing, we shall investigate the text a bit more closely.
Meanwhile: to the law and the prophets; if they speak not according to this word there is no “dawn” (morgenrote) to the weary souls of God’s children.