Jesus and Rest

Jesus invited all who were weary and burdened to come to him and promised that he would give them rest (Matt. 11:28ff). This was then, and continues to be, a welcome and attractive offer; an overwhelming majority of individuals experience soul-destroying, life-quenching exhaustion from the labor and troubles characteristic of life on this planet. Desperate for relief, multitudes have responded to Christ’s offer, seeking the promised rest. Sadly, only a portion of those who profess Christianity finds the radical relief to which Jesus alluded, the experience of renewal and revitalization. Some of the disappointed retain their membership and languish within our churches, while others relinquish their faith, often uncertain whether the obstacle that frustrated their desire for soul’s rest resided in a personal flaw or fraudulent claims made by Christianity’s proponents.

Perhaps the problem is located in the failure to hear Jesus’ entire saying on the matter. His promise is completed with the words, “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“ (Matt. 11:28:30). The promised rest is contingent upon accepting the yoke.

In Hebrew parlance, “taking the yoke” referred to becoming the disciple (a learner, a student) of a particular rabbi. As a student, the disciple assumed a humble and teachable stance, a quiet (as opposed to contentious) spirit that did neither disputed nor contested the teaching of the rabbi who had accepted him as an apprentice. The student sought to master the rabbi’s teachings, assimilate his instructions and wisdom, copy his actions and ultimately “form” himself (develop his character) in the image of his teacher.

With this being said, it is clear that the rest Jesus’ promised came as a by-product of accepting Christ as teacher and incorporating his teachings. As Jesus remarked, “ You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am “ (Jn 1313). For seekers who desire the promised rest, this still leaves the questions, “What are the critical elements of Christ’s teachings?” and “What does it look like to walk in his yoke?”

Despite the fact that Jesus frequently taught in parables, whose meanings are not always immediately transparent, his essential teachings can be extracted from those parables, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, his private instructions to the disciples, and his life of radical compassion and grace. These teachings, when incorporated into the heart and life of a believer, form the basis of the rest that he promised.

The following points underscore the major points of his teachings, and thus grant us insight into what it means to assume his yoke.

1. God, the source of all creation, the giver of life, the great redeemer and judge of the nations, is love. God’s love, the essence of his being, is all-inclusive and accompanies every being no matter where they may be or relative merit of divine favor.

2. Believe God, the Alpha and Omega. Take God at his word that he is love and that love will have the final word, when all things will be brought to completion. God, who dressed in flesh and was born as Jesus of Nazareth, did so in order to demonstrate his love and clarify the Law of love. He revealed himself most fully in Jesus’ life of compassion, redemption and restoration. Even more clearly than nature and Scripture, Jesus, who claimed that he could only do what he saw his Father do, revealed that God loves humanity, is always at work healing, and would give his own life rather than to have harm befall us. As Jesus said, “Even the hairs on your head are numbered” (Matt.10: 30). And, as Jesus would ask, what greater love is there than his willingness to lay down his life for us?

3. Trust that God’s love and grace are sufficient to carry a human through whatever situation develops. While expecting to encounter trials and tribulations, and not deluded into thinking that being faithful exempts one from the random calamities that befall humankind, have your eyes ready to see God’s mercies and grace. Be assured that God finds ways to bring blessings from every situation, whether we can perceive them or not. Trust that God keeps his promises, and those that ask for his good gifts will receive them, those that seek his will shall find it, and that the door to God’s house will always be opened to those who knock. With Job, know that God can be trusted with one’s life, even to the grave. With Jesus, be willing to commit your spirit, your life, into God’s hands.

4. Embrace God’s law as the transcript of his character, a revelation of God’s prescription for peace and well-being. Allow the law to be written on the heart and the mind and rule over all actions. God’s Law, whether found in the 10 commandments and summarized by the dictum, “Love God, and your neighbor as yourself,” or as fully incarnated in Jesus, is the law of love. Love was Jesus final instruction to his disciples as they shared the last supper together, and he presented it as a commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another” (Jn 13:34). To love God is to love the Law, the law that Jesus embodied, and keep the commandments. “If you love me, you will obey what I command,” and again, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching” (Jn 14:15,23). As the law is nothing more than God’s communication of his love and his description of the life-path that connects earth to the heart of Heaven, embracing the law allows one to journey with God from here into eternity. “I am the way,” claimed love’s incarnation.

5. Accept your own and others’ humanity. We are wonderfully and fearfully made, in God’s image with the capacity to give and receive love, to build up or set aside, to create and sustain beauty and grace. We have the ability to imitate God’s generosity, inclusivity, acceptance, good-will and forgiveness. We can reflect his love and use our energies to care for the planet and its peoples, to heal the broken-hearted and liberate the captives. We can be stewards of the earth and participate in the redemption of the willing. And yet, we are limited, finite mortals, not God. Unlike God, we do possess limitless time, energy, power or control. We are dust and soon return to the earth. Life is short and wisdom is hard-won, so we must proceed with compassion for self and others. We are not in the position to assign ultimate meaning to actions or make final judgments about the hearts and lives of others. We do not fully know even ourselves. As such, the only appropriate stance for us to take is that of grateful humility. It is enough to be allowed to participate in this majestic creation: God alone is the worthy judge.

6. Stay on the path. “He has shown you, O human, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act just, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”(Micah 6:8). Love for one another is not primarily an emotion; it is a prescription for how to live. Every transaction needs to be fair and just, leavened with compassion and goodwill. Each person with whom we interact must be viewed as God’s valued child, whose well-being is connected with our own. This includes those who define themselves as enemies and seek to do us harm. For them, we go the second mile, hoping that the additional time spent together will afford an opportunity for us to become a vehicle of grace to them. We pray for them, responding with compassion rather than seeking retaliation. We accept such people and events as opportunities to demonstrate our walk of faith as we give witness to the power of God to bring peace where discord reigns.

7. Remember what is valuable and what is not. We have been given the opportunity to experience the wondrous creation, God’s ever-present love, and the delight of companionship. Gifted by God with the ability to touch and heal the hearts of others and the wounds of the planet, to be witnesses to the restorative power of God’s love, we can find our rest in knowing that who we are, what we can do, and what we have is enough. A different job, house, car, clothing or spouse is not necessary for contentment: we have what we need if we see self and others through God’s loving eyes. Our lives matter, whether short or long, and our deeds matter, whether public or private. What lasts is the love that we give away, so we must continually cultivate love in our own hearts that we may have it to give. Each becomes a leader, and great in God’s eyes, when compassionately serving, tending to the needs and wounds of others.

The author of this week’s Sabbath School Quarterly probed the role of the Sabbath in the rest Jesus promised. Sabbath remains a training ground for Jesus’ disciples, those who follow in his footsteps. The Sabbath offers a prime opportunity to celebrate the life of freedom and peace that flows from heaven to us. It provides a space in time to review our own hearts, renew our vision, and recharge our energy. It is a day of worship and fellowship, of tasting the first-fruits of the kingdom. It is a day when we as an assembled group acknowledge that God is God and we are human beings, all in his image, all valued and each loved, equal before the throne.

Sabbath’s biggest contribution to our walk may come in the “remembering” of the Sabbath: keeping the Sabbath experience in mind all week long. Sabbath-keeping is more that a once a week phenomenon. Sabbath is the day that defines the rest of the week: it establishes the vision and sets the tone for the days that follow. Sabbath-keeping, we journey from rest to rest, from celebration to celebration of God our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, and of our design in His image. It remains a memorial to Love, and a promise of a day when all we experience will be love. It is the weekly rest that foreshadows everlasting rest and joy in and with God.

What do we gain by reviewing Jesus’ essential teachings? We learn that the major obstacle that stands between us and the soul rest for which we long is the illusion that other things are more important than love. It is love that we need, and that love flows like a river from the throne of God. It is the acceptance and adoption of that love as our life-style that will bring the desired rest and renewal. When love is our master, life’s burdens are light. The invitation still stands; there is rest for the weary, peace for the beleaguered, joy for the sorrowful. The yoke of love that holds us close to God is easy to wear. All that is required is a willingness to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn how to love from the Great Heart of the universe.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7443
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It seems a not is missing in there.

Lord, have mercy.

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"With this being said, it is clear that the rest Jesus’ promised came as a by-product of accepting Christ as teacher and incorporating his teachings. "

Let me re-phrase this statement.

With this being said, it is clear that the rest Jesus promised is the rest for the soul found in Him because “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

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I don’t think your proposition does justice to the multi façade character of God. Sometimes God used anger to motivate behavior that would sweep thousands through pain and suffering, war and hardship into early graves. As seen in the warnings and Judgments of OT prophets. Sometimes God killed thousands of innocent families as illustrated by the Death Angel’s assignment over David’s sin of numbering Israel by showing growth. This is a custom we perform at every General Conference that publicly affirms our leadership.

“I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire.” Ez 23

Somehow the SDA interpretation of God’s grace always gets a “works” component attached to it. The simple invitation of Jesus to “come and I will give you rest” gets turned into, “come and I will give you a prescription of works”, the prerequisite for “resting in Christ”. The “rest” gets turned into a a bi-product of “work”. Here again, we cut and paste - Jn13:13 to follow Matt.11:28.

There was nothing more “works” oriented for the Jews than the keeping of the Sabbath - with its rules and limitations of behaviour. Might it be better to interpret “come unto me who are weary and are heavy laden” by what comes directly after these words - Jesus declaring himself the “Lord of the Sabbath”. The “day of rest” had become so loaded with prescribed activity and meticulous observances that no “rest” was possible - ask the members of any pastor’s family.

Jesus’ invitation is simple - lay down all the “do’s and don’ts” and just enjoy our restful relationship. If we’re concerned that that will lead to a life of presumptive laziness - no fears - the love of God will teach us to love others. No one can make loving others a goal, any more than we can search for happiness. Those are the true bi-products of surrendering our own efforts “to love” and simply reflect God’s love. It’s as natural as the moon reflecting the sun so that we can see through the darkness of the night.

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last night a brother-in-law passed away after years and years of suffering… He was surrounded by family. he gave testimony of his assurance and was happy to rest and looked forward to seeing his dear wife who had preceded him. That is the blessing of the Cross. get out of jail card into perfect rest in the Creator, Redeemer and soon coming King of Kings. Praise be to God! tz

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this is a lovely, balanced reflection…thank-you, ginger…

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WWJD

" But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Jn 5:17

Surely “multi facade character of God” should read “multi-faceted character of God.”

Just a story , really having happened : Thwo teachers of theology, the one to be cheated out from the semiary. What story was told around in the Union ? : Both had preschool children. On the traditional Sabbath afternoon walk the nes children were allowed to rund and jump, the others to walk slowly and orderly.

You`ll surely agree that a SDA Bible teacher who lets his children act childlike on Sabbath aftrenoon is never fit for teaching ministers to be !

This is a great exposition on the immortal teachings of Jesus, and as such would have been solidly approved by my late father and adventist since his conversion in late 20’s until his death at 73. However, he believed something was not quite right in the gospels. When Jesus became an adult God the father did not have the right to command him to die for humankind, so he did not hold on to that slant to the story. If God felt that sacrificial death was neccessary he should have set the boy Jersus the example by sacrificing himself. He did not however feel that sacrificial death was required of either of the godhead. Especially for as corrupt and evil a set of beings as humans. He however ended his prayers"IN JESUS NAME< AMEN" as the usual pratice is, and in his visits to death row he did so as well, but taught the murderers to commend their souls to God who knew everything and had all power and compassion. As a black SDA he did not believe SDA’s were more moral than good people in general, for example, those anglicans,of his own family . Racism, social pride could be found everywhere. He insisted I adhere to the teachings of jesus while li ing in his house since he could absolutely no fault in the teachings of this man.