Wayne S. Walker

“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

Among major hymnbooks in the 20th century produced by members of
the Lord’s church and used by churches of Christ, most of them beginning
with “Christian Hymns” No. 1, edited by L. O. Sanderson and published by
the Gospel Advocate Co. in 1935, have the song (it was also in the
Advocate’s “Sweeter Than All Songs” of 1927), including the 1937 “Great
Songs of the Church No. 2,” the 1944 “New Wonderful Songs,” the 1948
“Christian Hymns No. 2” (but not the 1966 No. 3), the 1959 “Majestic
Hymnal No. 2,” the 1963 “Abiding Hymns” and “Christian Hymnal,” the 1965
“Great Christian Hymnal No. 2,” and the 1978 “Hymns of Praise.” Today,
in addition to “Sacred Selections” and “Hymns for Worship,” it may be
found in the 1971 “Songs of the Church” and the 1990 “Songs of the Church
21st Century Edition” both edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992
“Praise for the Lord” edited by John P. Wiegand.

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 (not in “Hymns of Worship”)
“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.
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.
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.”

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