"JESUS WILL GIVE YOU REST"
"Come unto Me…and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11.28)
INTRO.: A song which encourages the lost to come and receive the rest that Jesus offers is "Jesus Will Give You Rest" (#333 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #594 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Frances (Fanny) Jane Crosby VanAlstyne (1820-1915). The tune was composed by John Robson Sweney (1837-1899). The song was copyrighted in 1878, but the first known publication seems to have been in the 1889 Redemption Songs edited by Sweney, William James Kirkpatrick, and John J. Lowe for John J. Hood of Philadelphia, PA. It has been observed that the works of Fanny Crosby would probably never be considered of great literary merit. However, her poems and hymns evidently touched a responsive chord in many people of the late nineteenth century and were wildly popular in her time. As she produced over 8,000 sacred lyrics, many of these have not stood the test of time and are now forgotten. Yet, even today, among those religious groups considered "evangelical," a causal look at most of their hymnbooks would likely reveal that there are more gospel songs by Fanny Crosby than by any other single author, and many of them are still very well-known and beloved.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the Gospel Advocate’s 1927 Sweeter Than All Songs edited by C. M. Pullias; their 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) and 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 (but not the 1966 No. 3), both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the Firm Foundation’s 1938/1944 (New) Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; their 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today, it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song invites those who are weary to come to Jesus for rest.
I. Stanza one emphasizes the need
"Will you come, will you come, With your poor, broken heart, Burdened and sin oppressed?
Lay it down at the feet of your Savior and Lord, Jesus will give you rest."
A. The reason why we need to come to Jesus is that our hearts are broken and not right with God: Acts 8.21
B. The reason that our hearts are broken is that they are burdened and oppressed with sin: Rom. 3.23
C. However, we can lay our hearts at the feet of Jesus who is our Savior and Lord, bowing in complete submission to His will, to receive His rest: Rev. 1.17
II. Stanza two emphasizes the reward
"Will you come, will you come? There is mercy for you, Balm for your aching breast;
Only come as you are, and believe on His name, Jesus will give you rest."
A. If we come to Jesus in complete submission to His will, there is mercy available for us: Eph. 2.4-6
B. And through His mercy, God offers us balm for our aching breasts: Jer. 8.22
C. However, coming to Jesus that we might receive this balm, we must come as we are and believe on His name. New Wonderful Songs changed this line to, "Only come unto Him, and believe on His name," apparently with the idea that the original might encourage people to come to Jesus "as they are" without repentance. However, this is not necessarily the case, but the line can be understood simply to urge people not to wait until they can make themselves better or pull themselves up by their own bootstraps but to come "as they are" now in the same way another song says, "Just as I am." Then, Sacred Selections changed this line to "Obey Jesus your Lord, heed His every command," apparently with the idea that the original sounded too much like salvation by faith alone. However, this is not necessarily the case either. The song does not say that all a person has to do to be saved is to believe, but it says that we must believe on His name, and we can understand this in the same way that many passages of scripture use the words "believe" and "faith" to involve all of our response to God’s offer of grace, including our obedience to His will: Jn. 3.16
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the price
"Will you come, will you come? You have nothing to pay; Jesus, who loves you best,
By His death on the cross purchased life for your soul, Jesus will give you rest."
A. We have nothing to pay because God offers His salvation as a free gift: Isa. 55.1
B. The price has already been paid by Jesus, who loves us best: 1 Jn. 3.16
C. And the price that He paid was the blood that He shed by His death on the cross so that we could have redemption: Eph. 1.7
IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the call
"Will you come, will you come? How He pleads with you now! Fly to His loving breast;
And whatever your sin or your sorrow may be, Jesus will give you rest."
A. Jesus, through His inspired messengers who recorded the scriptures, pleads with us to come to Him that we might be reconciled to God: 2 Cor. 5.20
B. Therefore, we must flee to His loving breast that we might find refuge and lay hold on the hope set before us: Heb. 6.18
C. And He has promised that when we do so, whatever burden of sin or sorrow we may have, we can cast it on Him: Ps. 55.22
CONCL.: The chorus continues to remind us of the rest that Jesus offers to all mankind and gives to those who come to Him:
"O happy rest! Sweet, happy rest! Jesus will give you rest.
Oh! Why won’t you come in simple, trusting faith? Jesus will give you rest."
Unfortunately, not everyone will respond to the call of the gospel. But for those who are tired of the paths of sin and long for a better way, it is truly good news that we can share when we tell them, "Jesus Will Give You Rest."