The expression trust in Jesus holds multi-layered meaning. In one sense, trusting in Jesus means believing in Him for salvation (John 3:16). We believe who He is—God in human form—and put our faith in Him as Savior. And we believe what He has done—that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. Since we cannot save ourselves from sin and death (Romans 3:10–20), we trust in Jesus to save us (John 11:25). We cannot receive eternal life and live forever in the presence of God until we’ve trusted in Jesus as Savior and accepted His forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7).
Subsequent to salvation, trusting in Jesus means committing or dedicating ourselves entirely to Him. When we are born again, we become followers of Jesus Christ. As His followers, we put complete confidence in Him and His Word. To trust in Jesus means to believe everything He said and accept His Word as true: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31–32, ESV). The more we know and abide in the words of Jesus, the more we will obey Him, and the more our confidence in Him will grow as we experience freedom in Christ.
A trustworthy promise Jesus gave us in His Word was to come to Him to find rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). A yoke is a wooden harness used to join the necks of two draft animals. Together, the beasts can more effectively pull a heavy load. In the time when Jesus spoke these words, farmers would often pair a young, inexperienced, but vigorous animal with an older, weaker, but seasoned animal. The younger animal would learn from the more experienced one, and the older would benefit from the younger one’s strength to help carry the load.
Rest, another way of expressing trust, is a state of leaning on Jesus for strength and learning from Him. He shares the load as we journey together. When we are tired and overburdened, we can come alongside Jesus and find rest for our souls. In this way, we trust in Jesus, by relying on Him for everything in our lives, especially when we are weary and burdened down. Jesus is the believer’s Sabbath-rest (Hebrews 4:1–11).
Jesus understands our weaknesses and knows we will struggle to trust in Him. That is why Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). When we take our anxious hearts to God in prayer, He offers us peace. His presence is peace. The passage does not say He’ll always give us what we’re asking for, but it does promise peace to guard our hearts and minds. To trust in Jesus means to come to Him and believe He has good and trustworthy plans for our lives and our future. We don’t have to fret about tomorrow. When we trust in Jesus, He pours out His peace on us.
Our trust in Jesus grows through experience (2 Corinthians 1:10) as we see God working all things in our lives—both the good and bad—for His purpose (Romans 8:28). Jesus wants us to live by faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20), and so the Christian life becomes a testing and training ground in trust: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1). We may know that Jesus loves us and promises always to be with us (Matthew 28:20), but we can’t see Him, and, during times of trouble, doubt and fear can creep in and make it difficult to apply that knowledge. Peter encourages us that we can trust in Jesus even when we cannot see Him: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:6–8).
Even though we can’t see Jesus with our physical eyes, the Holy Spirit enables us to see Jesus with the eyes of our hearts (Ephesians 1:18–20). Ultimately, our inability to see Jesus physically makes our trust in Him even more secure. That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
The apostle Paul captured what it means for a believer to trust in Jesus: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).
Jesus is teaching us to trust Him in all things at all times with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5–6) so that our faith becomes unshakeable: “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4). As we learn to trust in Jesus more, we identify more with the psalmist’s description of a believer at rest in the arms of God: “I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (Psalm 131:2).