Matthew 12:8, "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
"Rest" in society today seems to be absent from the vocabulary of many American's today. I often hear, "Rest? What is that?" or "I don't have time for rest!" Whether it is sports, continuing education, two/three sometimes four jobs, or volunteering, our schedules are so full of demands and tasks that rest is pushed aside. Even vacation schedules are so full that when families return, they often say "I need a vacation from my vacation!" Tablets and smart phones are beneficial, but they often cause distractions during scheduled rest breaks.
With all of the demands and distractions of our schedules, how can Christians rest? Is rest an Old Testament concept only? With that question in mind, let's turn our attention to what God says in the Bible.
1. Rest gives God glory: Exodus 20:8 states, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall work, but the seventh is a Sabbath unto the LORD your God. On it, you shall not do any work. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." The purpose of the Sabbath was a sign pointing to God and His work. The word 'Sabbath' means to cease or the stop. According to this verse, when we take the time to 'cease' from our work and rest, it is a reflection of our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.
Did God just run out of things to do, then took time to rest? No! This was part of His plan. God was pointing ahead to Christ and where true Rest is found. If God purposed time to rest, so should you and I. Plan time to stop/cease from your work with an understanding that your rest gives God glory. Obviously with an improper view of rest, we can take advantage of rest and become lazy and unproductive. But with a proper understanding of rest, we can rejoice knowing our rest isn't in vain, but a wonderful reminder of our Creator.
2. Jesus is Greater than the Sabbath: In the New Testament, the religious leaders had made the Sabbath more of a burden rather than a day of rest. When Jesus arrived, He declared that true rest is found in Him. Matthew 11:28 records Jesus as saying, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." A few verses later Jesus stated, "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Here, Jesus is saying that true rest is found in Him. No longer should people try to enter God's rest with rules and regulations. But when we believe in Jesus Christ, we enter true rest.
In Hebrews, chapters three and four, a wonderful explanation of what this rest looks like is given. When we believe in the work of Christ, we enter in God's rest. Many of the Israelites did not enter God's rest because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). However, we still have the promise of entering God's rest through believing in Christ. When we enter God's rest, we cease from our own works (salvation by works). And the writer of Hebrews finishes by reminding us there remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).
So much more can be said about this rest. If you do not believe in Christ and you are reading this, it is important for you as well to rest from your work as well. Taking time to rest refreshes your body and reenergizes your mind. However, this will only last for a short time. For our body and mind is only temporary. True rest can be found by believing in the good news of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, those who believe in Your Son, Jesus, enter the rest that is only found in You. My prayer on this day is that those who read these words will see only You and will turn to You for their rest. For He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in You.