Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Sabbath. Gentle. Lowly in heart. Rest for your soul. Easy yoke. Light burden.
These words and phrases have not often described my daily life with Jesus. So, is Jesus a liar or is it me?
The answer to that question is that it’s me.
God set the pattern when, before sin entered into our fist family and created order, in resting from his labor of creating.
Sabbath has always caused me trouble. Growing up into cultural Christianity, I was forbidden from fishing, going to the lake with the boat (our favorite family pastime) or cutting grass on Sundays, but I sure could go to church two times and look disparagingly at the “sinner” who did go fishing, or went to the lake or did cut the grass. Sunday was “rest” day, but going to church twice sure did feel like work to me.
Fast forward to recent history, and I still struggled with Sabbath. I stopped, upon salvation and Bible reading, looking down on Sabbath breaking, as my parents called it.
Jesus was clear that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. However, in ministry, Sunday is sure not a Sabbath. It’s an all freakin’ day work day. Some ministry professionals take Monday or Saturday or some other day off as a Sabbath. But…then there’s parenting. Dude, there is no day off. My hunch is that this is not just a “me” problem. My hunch is that this is an every Christian problem.
I’m not talking about being “busy” with life. Everybody around the world is busy living, surviving, thriving, advancing etc. I’m talking about peace. I’m talking about soul rest. I’m talking about an easy yoke, but yet still a yoke to carry, just an easy one.
Israel thought the Sabbath was just a day, a law. God was clear that it was deeper and better and more rich than that. He told them they profaned the Sabbath.
Jesus clearly violated how the Jewish leaders interpreted his own law he gave them at Sinai, as they wanted to kill him for healing sick people on the Sabbath.
How am I to be like Jesus, carry a yoke of vocation and mission and discipleship and it be easy and light, an everyday kind of Sabbath life?
The Kingdom of God and Hebrews 3-4 have been my great help.
Upon Jesus coming, living, dying, rising, ascending and sending the Spirit, all things have been fulfilled! (See Acts 13:32-22)
The kingdom, the reign of God has come, and now all things are being brought under Jesus rule and wrapped up for the final renewal of all things and the eternal reign of Jesus forever. Glory!
The writer of Hebrews makes the point that Jesus is greater than Moses (duh, Jesus created Moses and gave Moses the law, right!), and entering into Jesus’ rest is what Moses’, Joshua, heck all of the Old Testament was pointing to. Entering into Jesus is entering into Sabbath!
There it is! Sabbath is not a day. Sabbath is not dropping work necessarily. Sabbath is entering into Jesus. Sabbath is a life of resting in Christ as enough for salvation, for trusting for today, for believing him for all things needed, for believing him to be effectual when I can’t or don’t need to be.
Sabbath is a life of faith that not just intellectually believes Jesus has saved me, but practically acts like coming after Jesus is enough for getting all things necessary done and he will provide everything needed to keep walking with him by faith.
Sabbath is a daily resting in the yoke that Jesus is pulling and simply walking beside him and marveling at his provision while walking with him. I walk, he provides. I believe, he moves mountains. I rest, he pulls. I know him, he loves me.
This is why I have watched a few old men and women I admire work harder than they ever have as they get older, and they actually speed up as they get older and do it with the most gracious, loving, kind, firm, hard resolve, passionate, restful demeanor I’ve seen, and yet at rest. This seems contradictory, but it’s not!
You see, they are in Jesus’ yoke, walking at his speed, but Jesus is doing the pulling, providing, empowering, pushing etc. These folks are living by faith that Jesus will do what he says he will do, and therefore, all fretting, worrying, workaholic life, refusal to stop efforts have been crucified with Christ, and they live and produce even more fruit!
Sabbath lets me work hard, and believe Jesus will make it effectual, so I don’t fret, and I can stop when I’m tired because It’s Jesus job to make it all come together.
Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a justification for laziness. You will find no such command in Scripture to be lazy and let God make up for our laziness. In fact, the Proverbs sarcastically pokes fun a laziness when it talks about a lazy person dipping their bread into some good dip, and not even wanting to bring it back up to their mouth because it wears them out. Laziness is trash.
God made us to work, and we are to work, but we are NOT to fret that my work is effectual all by itself. Sabbath lets me work, and lean on Jesus to make it have it’s effect. This requires faith to stop. Stopping work is only a tiny part of Sabbath. The largest part is letting my soul and mind rest in not fretting that my physical rest will somehow result in “things not getting done”. Sabbath says, Jesus has that covered. He can make my “manna” be enough for two days. I refuse to fret over that!
I don’t think I can say it any clearer. Perhaps, you need to hear this. Perhaps, you will scour the Scriptures looking for that easy yoke and light burden, that Sabbath rest, and you’ll find it in trusting Jesus, and being willing to put self-reliance to death.
May you rest in the Sabbath of Jesus every minute of every day. That Sabbath is there as the easy yoke and light burden of walking with Jesus in absolutely everything. Get some!