April 11, 2009
“Now notice, there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council (the Sanhedrin), and an upright man and righteous, Who had not agreed with or assented to the purpose and action of the others; and he was expecting and waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and rolled it up in a linen cloth and laid Him in a rockhewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day or Preparation and the Sabbath was approaching. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed closely and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they went back and made ready spices. On the Sabbath day they rested in accordance with the commandment.”
Luke 23: 50-56, Amplified Bible
“The Rest That Reminds and Restores”
“When the soul gives up all for love, so that it can have Him that is all, then it finds true rest.”
Julian of Norwich
Who does God’s rest remind me that I am?
What does God’s rest remind me that He has done for me?
“His abasement is our glory. What He is, while appearing in the flesh, that we in turn have become: restored to God.”
Hilary of Poitiers
“Your hand upholds the universe, Your love gives rest to the world.”
How was your week? Are you feeling tired? Stressed-out? Do you feel as though you are burning the candle at both ends?
If you’re like most people I know, you’re trying to do too much! The days never seem long enough to get everything done and the nights are too short for you to get the rest you need.
Thankfully, no one understood better than Jesus, the importance of rest. Just imagine if you faced what Jesus did each day during His ministry on earth. Everybody wanted a piece of Him. Everyone wanted to talk to Him and touch Him. If you knew that even by touching His coat you’d be healed, wouldn’t you want to get to Jesus any way you could. Jesus could have been ministering to someone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
But even the Son of God recognized the need for not only physical but spiritual rest, as well. Not only for Himself, but for His followers.
Pulled in every direction by the needs of so many on a daily basis, in Mark 6, we are told that after the death of John the Baptist, the apostles sent out missionaries and then came to tell Jesus all they had done.
There are two important lessons for you and me regarding “physical rest” that we should incorporate into our own lives from this passage. First, the followers of Jesus were grieving the loss of John the Baptist. Not only John’s disciples, who had seen their leader beheaded by the evil Herod, but Jesus was also experiencing the brutal loss of His family member. Grief saps us of energy, leaving us emotionally and physically drained. Jesus and His disciples were no different. Add to this the account in Mark 6: 30 where we are told the apostles “sent out” missionaries. After John’s death, it appears there was a determined effort to witness even more vigorously. After the apostles returned to Jesus and told Him all they had done, Jesus looked at His followers and said, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and rest a while. For many were continually coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat” (Mark 6: 31). Now let’s take a close look at this scenario. Jesus’ followers had experienced emotional trauma; grief at the death of a co-worker; and continual days of ministry to the point where they weren’t eating enough. Jesus said, “STOP!” Sometimes in our desire to work for God, we overdo it. What a tragedy that in our zeal to work for God, we push ourselves to the limit physically, only to fall victim to the burden of stress we’ve laid upon ourselves. Jesus not only knew this, He understood what can happen and so He advised His followers to come away and rest, physically, emotionally and mentally.
I’m so glad Jesus doesn’t just advise us to rest, He encourages us to do so.
But there’s even more to Jesus’ teaching about rest that I believe makes my entire life one of blessed heavenly rest.
In Matthew 11: 28, there are these wonderful words of invitation from Jesus: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will cause you to rest – I will refresh your souls.” As I read this text again, for it is one of my favorites, I asked myself, “What heavy burden has Jesus lifted from me that gives me His soul-refreshing rest?”
I’d like to offer what I believe to be a heavenly perspective on spiritual rest that we often overlook. As I looked through the Scriptures, I found two special times when God rested. The first is in Genesis 2: 2 which says that after the work of Creation was finished, God looked at all He had done and declared it “good,” or as the Hebrew states, “it was the best,” and then He rested. When God created the earth, He couldn’t do any better – it was the best, and He rested from the work He had done. Perfection reigned in a perfect world.
But then the toxin of sin polluted our planet. Life on earth wasn’t perfect anymore. And there was no rest in the human heart, for the spiritual link between heaven and earth had been broken. However, our merciful Father had a plan so unbelievable. A plan to bring the gift of perfect rest back to our restless hearts. This plan removed the burden of sin that weighed all God’s children down.
On a Friday afternoon, on a hill called Golgotha, there was a moment, when from an old rugged cross, the voice of the Son of God, called out, “It is finished!” And again God rested. The work of recreation was done.
When God created His children, Adam and Eve, they were two perfect beings. He couldn’t have made them any better. And His work was done. He could rest.
But when sin entered, it was impossible for God’s children to fix themselves. We could try forever but nothing we can do ourselves will make us perfect again. So God sent His Son to earth. And His Son, Jesus, did for you and me what’s humanly impossible. He recreated us. And then He rested, for His work of redemption was done.
If you came to the end of this week, tired and worn-out, weary physically and spiritually drained, then I invite you to enter into the rest from human labors, both physical and spiritual, and accept God’s heavenly gift of rest in your hearts – a rest that replaces our earthly restlessness for heavenly restfulness. In the words of St. Augustine: “You have created us for Yourself, and our heart cannot be stilled until it finds rest in You.”
“O Lord, Jesus Christ, who art as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, who beholdest Thy weak creatures weary of labour, weary of pleasure, weary of hope deferred, weary of self; in Thine abundant compassion, and fellow feeling with us, and unutterable tenderness, bring us, we pray Thee, unto Thy rest. Amen.”
“Lord, I am poured out,
I come to you for renewal.
Lord, I am weary,
I come to you for refreshment.
Lord I am worn,
I come to you for restoration.
Lord, I am lost,
I come to you for guidance.
Lord I am troubled,
I come to you for peace.
Lord, I am lonely,
I come to you for love.
Come revive me
Come re-shape me
Come mould me in your image.
Re-cast me in the furnace of your love.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.