Quest for Hope
Time to Rest 3-9-16
Yesterday, we invested time reading about what it means to be a wise worshiper of Christ. Today, Christ calls us to join him in a place of refreshment and rest; he is our River of Life and Guide by our side.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
In our passage, Christ reveals he is the source of saving grace; we cannot have true knowledge of God except through Christ: “Come to me…I will give you rest.” Jesus is the point of contact necessary for extending all things that relate to rest. We think about things like believing in Christ for forgiveness of sin, salvation, righteousness, eternal life. But, he actually offers us grace that brings us to a perfect place of rest for this life. Some things that relate to rest are: peace of conscience, ease of mind, and comfort and relief for a distressed soul.
Rest can be perceived differently for every person; because we each think about rest from a different frame of reference. What does our passage cause you to consider when you hear the phrase, “rest for your soul?”
Let’s look at some Scripture passages that cast a vision for godly rest:
- Genesis 2:2-3 “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
- “He rested…” “seventh day declared it holy…” What does this mean?
F.F. Bruce Commentary: When we read that God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” we are to understand that he began to rest then; the fact that he is never said to have completed his rest and resumed his work of creation implies that his rest continues still, and may be shared by those who respond to his overtures with faith and obedience.
- There was a “rest for the soul” in the garden for a short time, but once Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden their souls knew no rest (fear).
- How does this rest described in Genesis relate to Israel?
- Think about Israel in slavery; forced labor…no rest for there souls there. (Ex 2:23-24) Then, God sent Moses to lead them out of forced labor into rest (Ex 6:6-7) In this move, God extended Israel a covenant of rest—a second chance if you will at the Garden of Eden.
- Through the old covenant, God offered Israel “rest for the soul” by observing the Law, but they couldn’t remain faithful to it.
How does rest relate to all humanity?
- Jesus, the Messiah came as promised to offer the greatest “rest” the world would ever know; it was not a physical rest. It was an opportunity to rest from the weariness of sin and death. This rest is for everyone. God’s rest described in the book of Genesis as the seventh day has returned; it has returned not in a day of the week but in Savior. The Savior is the Spiritual Sabbath every human being needs.
- Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”
- Hebrews 4:1-13 The Apostle Paul teaches about the power of being joined in rest with the Word—Jesus.
Leon Morris Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out that this word “enter” in Hebrews 4:3 is present tense; believers are in the process of entering this rest…it’s a process. Christ followers have begun to enter their spiritual “rest” the one God inaugurated on the seventh day. We are receiving some of the blessings of salvation, even though we do not yet enjoy them in their fulness.
The Sabbath is meaningful on its own terms, just as the Festival of Tabernacles or the Passover sacrifice is. The Sabbath stands as a metaphor of the whole purpose and meaning of redemption, as do the sacrifices and other old covenant Mosaic institutions. They foreshadowed the true spiritual “rest” we have in Christ, which includes a “resting” in forgiveness of sin and “resting” from sin itself through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Hebrews as a whole makes the point that all the old covenant institutions are obsolete now that the reality has come in Christ. Our passage does not exhort us to keep an old covenant Sabbath, but it admonishes us to enter the spiritual “rest” of God by having faith in Christ.
My favorite Scripture that portrays the heart of Christ for rest, besides our passage for tonight, is Mark 6:31.
- Mark 6:30-31 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
Every now and then we just need to get away with Jesus for refreshment in our souls; it includes physical and emotional rest.
We overcome the world in the life of Christ; the power of the Word. Jesus invites us to be yoked or joined with him. That means our lives connected to his. Together, we can have the power to live out what he teaches. As well, as we stay in that connection, he promises to refresh us and give us physical rest too.
If we are still carrying the load of past sins, Jesus wants us to get rid of it by giving it to him. We do not rest if we are carrying that garbage. Jesus wants to give us rest from our past. At the end of this Lenten or reflective season, the cross where Jesus erases our sinful record and offers us grace will be revealed. We cling to the Old Rugged Cross knowing in it we can find refreshment and rest because of the one who willingly hung there in our place.