“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain-fields, and His disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
On another Sabbath He went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand,“Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and His hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.
I don’t believe this means he gets special say-so on Sunday. I don’t believe this means that each week demands a 24 hour fasting prayer session.
I believe Jesus is Lord over our rest.
He knows that rest is good for us. He asks us to rest. He is our rest.
We know, we know.
So why don’t we do it?
I don’t believe it’s because of the internet. Or a workaholic culture. Or Netflix originals.
These obstacles may be new gears in an old clock, but the tick is the same.
We don’t rest because we can’t rest with ourselves.
It’s like this:
I’m busy. I work 20 hours a week, go to school full time and try to see some people. Maybe sprinkle in a side gig, a few organizations, and family face-times.
I’m treading water. It’s all fine, but a free moment is a tired moment. So I avoid true rest and go for the easy distraction. On to the next. Rinse and repeat. And before long I haven’t actually laid anything down… to rest. I just keep picking up. Go go go. The next time I consider resting, it feels that much more impossible. I feel more distant from myself, from God.
And so the cycle goes.
But rest does not just mean finally facing our failure.
It means finally returning to his success.
He is waiting for us to put the mess down. But is it a hard choice. Rest is a hard choice. Tim Keller refers to it as “an incredible act of the will” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux0_5zctrsI). It takes strength to say no to distractions and escapes before we finally give in and say, “Lord, I just need you.” Sit with him and that thought for a while. Dig your heels in. See what comes up. The mess will be there waiting for you. And God wants to untangle it with you.
What happens when I don’t choose rest?
I fear what God thinks of me
I go into autopilot
I skim the surface of my day
I actually feel fatigued
I lose the perspective that I have in Christ
What happens when I choose rest?
I feel whole
I feel restored
I know that God is in control
I see His work throughout the day
I feel more energized
I sense the purpose that is mine in Christ
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.
He is waiting to welcome you into his rest. Push yourself to have this time with him. Dig deep and deny distraction. Rest is a practice - a training of mind, body and spirit.
But God is ready to clear the slate once more. He is ready to lead you beside still waters and show you that he is God, you are his, and only he can give you rest.
Lord, thank you for being my rest. I am sorry for choosing a thousand distractions over your presence. Please show me how to rest during this season. Teach my soul to rest. Give me strength to enter your rest in my mind, body and soul. Amen.
Author | Claire Jordan