July 25, 2010

I will give you rest – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

We are all probably familiar with the passage in Matthew where Jesus offers the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I wonder, though, what most people think of when they read or hear these words. The question may be asked—rest from what? Many people are so involved in the world, that they may think of a worldly application of the word rest.

In the work-a-day world, rest is usually thought of as a time of sleep, of refreshing, of ease, or even a time when all activity stops or ceases. This is also a biblical usage of the word. (Mark 6:30-31; Mark 14:41; Luke 12:19) I’ve heard people say many times that this period of refreshing will come when they just get through this day, or this week, or even this month. People are so busy and stressed that rest always seems to be just around the corner.

Stress often comes from worry about jobs and providing for one’s family. These are times when people are working longer for less, or not being able to work at all because their jobs have been lost for one reason or another. Others are worried about hanging onto what they’ve got or missing out on what they could have. We worry about our health, our relationships with others, the oil in the gulf, our mortgages, and the price of gasoline. You name it, and someone is worried about it.

The Christian needs to slow down and count the many blessings already possessed. Solomon wrote, “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19) But, Solomon also warns, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-13) The Christian who is so worried about the things of this world needs to read over and over the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) He also said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matt 6:24-25 ) The Bible is full of good advice about how man should deal with the world he lives in. But, when Jesus said he would give rest to all who would come to him, he was talking about something different.

The context of the passage helps us to understand that Jesus was talking about something spiritual. As Matthew chapter 11 begins, John the Baptizer who was in prison sent two of his disciples to Christ to ask if he was the one to come or should they look for another. Jesus replied by telling them to remind John of the miracles that he had seen or heard that Jesus had performed. He went on to reprove his listeners over their unbelief and lack of repentance. His mighty works done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were surely sufficient evidence that he was sent from God. Even a pagan Roman centurion present at the crucifixion of Jesus, when he saw the earthquake and things that happened there, exclaimed that Jesus must truly have been the son of God. (Matthew 27:54)

It is true that Jesus is able to comfort us and give us rest from the stress we impose on ourselves if we will only let him. But,  that rest is only temporary. The rest he speaks of in Matthew 11:28-30 is eternal. The people he was speaking to were laden down with sin and unbelief. He told them to take his yoke upon them and throw off the yoke of works that could not save them from their sin. Because of the commands that the Pharisees and Sadducees had layered on top of the Law of Moses, they were burdened with law keeping that would never make them righteous in the site of God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The invitation is still offered today. We read in Revelations, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Revelations 14:13 ) And also, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelations 22:17) Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14) Let us all remain steadfast in the Lord as we pass along life’s weary road looking forward always to that heavenly home and rest that awaits the faithful. Amen.

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