The Rest Is Radical

The Adult Bible Study Guide focuses on the central invitation of Jesus: come to me. Most of us know the promise of the lesson's memory text from Matthew 11:28—if one approaches the divine, rest from the labors of life will come. But the spiritual truth extends beyond catching some zzzzzzz. This radical concept, that rest is not compensation for work, but is instead essential disciple-like action for belief, offers a political critique of contemporary notions of labor and reward. This yoke is different; it unites.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11342

I suppose the temptation is ever present to take snippets and texts and reimagine them by our own experience, inserting our own time and culture into the biblical picture. That has its benefits perhaps, but to get the original intent of the text, don’t we need to stick to the original context …

The rest Jesus is offering has more to do with his specific mission - to release humanity from the burden of working our way into God’s grace and ultimately into salvation. That is a burden to be sure. The Jews worked hard at that; and we have picked up that burden as we try to navigate our landscape. A.J.Jacobs, in his book “A Year of Living Biblically”, shows us exactly how daunting that can be in his humorous attempt at following all the rules required.

Yes, we need to go to the mountain top, and the seaside to take a breath (without a mask), but I believe the rest Jesus offers has more to do with our relentless work we imagine that needs to be done to be accepted by our version of God. Even the Jews, with their meticulous Sabbath observances, never really got the point, even as Jesus invited them to the cross.

We can take that text and make it into another Christian duty, but we might miss the point if we abandon context.

5 Likes

Very true but…

The same temptation can be extended to those who feel their understanding of Jesus’ mission on Earth is better or more accurate that others’. While the definition you offered above does not say it, it could easily be and factually has been interpreted by many to mean that Jesus came to release humanity from the burden of obeying the law. A different take on the biblical text could be that Jesus’ mission was to:

  • Demonstrate that God’s law is perfect
  • Pay for the requirement of breaking God’s law (death)
  • Compensate for the unfair fallen condition which Adam engendered into all humans

It is the exercise of our faith into this mission that makes it effective into our own individual lives at precisely the perfect measure and capacity.

Then there is the observation in Hebrews 4 that tells us that even as the Jews followed the letter of the law, even the Sabbath(s), they still missed the rest that is only available in Christ.

3 Likes

Sure, no issues with that, that is the other extreme of the misunderstanding of Jesus’s mission, but not the justification of free-for-all.

Edit: I should have added this Rom 6:1 - What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

Why do you assume when the Gospel of grace is referred to, it implies a “free-for all”? Of course I know the answer. We respond to group ideologies and don’t hear the individual.

“I should have added this Rom 6:1”

I never even implied that we should “go on sinning”. My point is , we read those familiar texts with bias and a lot of baggage. In this case, we want to make the Bible socially relevant to the issues of the day. It’s like using the texts as jumping off points to whatever is our personal focus.

3 Likes

I know you didn’t, I was counterbalancing the two extreme positions, the legalistic view, to which you made reference when you described Jesus’ mission as “ to release humanity from the burden of working our way into God’s grace and ultimately into salvation” with the other extreme of those who would run with that and misinterpret it to mean that since we now live “under grace” we don’t need to obey the law.

I couldn’t agree more with you on this point.

1 Like

According to the Jews there are 613 commandments in the law. I trust their position.

According to Paul, nobody can obey them all. I trust his position, too.

1 Like

You have it right. I will continue to tell the meaning of the Sabbath as long as I live. It represents Christ. He is our rest. No day will save us. The Sabbath points to a finished work at Creation and a finished work at our re-creation. It also reminds us of the escape from Egypt at the Exodus as we escape from the world who believes being good is enough no matter what we believe.
Christ finished work for our rest was at the cross. Because of Him we do not need to go through life worried about our salvation and working our way to heaven. That is no holy motive and one embraced by perfectionist mindsets.
We rest in Him and celebrate this every Sabbath. When we believe we are saved we love His law and keep the commandments through the power of the Holy Spirit, When we fail, we repent and are forgiven. Everyday we ask for forgiveness. What peace and comfort that should give us. Our salvation does not depend on Sabbath keeping any more than the Jews who killed Jesus.
It was not all Jews for Jews were the first converts. I don’t believe Jesus wanted to start a new religion, only to covenant with His people of any ancestry. When we preach the rest in Jesus as our reason for Sabbath, many Christians will listen. It is known as righteousness by faith.

Jesus is our rest.

1 Like

A different take?

Not really.

EGW espoused pretty much the same view decades ago.

A “perfect” take?

Not even close.

No human opinion or expression can be considered that!:rofl:

Those were Jewish commandments, no one is suggesting they be followed.

1 Like

There was only one body of commandments at that time, according to the Jews, 613 in number, including the ten which were expressly addressed to the people rescued from Egyptian slavery. The three angels mention specific instructions given later to deal with end-time situations. (Ex 20:2)

3 Likes

Harry,
Not clear on what your point is, perhaps you can help us here, especially on how you see the 3AM providing instructions on the Mitzvot, which is a very bloated combination of primarily human tradition list (“Mishneh Torah”), not biblical.
As far as what I get from reading Scriptures is that only the ten (which were kept inside the ark) are the true and forever commandments that represent Go’s will for us.

This topic was automatically closed after 7 days. New replies are no longer allowed.