Rest! A Forgotten Part of Worship :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 11:25-30 (continued)

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to infants. Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight. All things are delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son, except the Father.

And no one knows the Father, except the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’”

Last time we ended talking about God’s sovereign grace. Everyone will come face to face with the wonder grace of our Lord at some point in their lives. God loves us all. He is so patient and kind even in His holiness and hatred for sin. His love and grace towards the sinner is unmatched ever in history.

This morning as I was reading in 1 Kings 21:7-29 and I saw that God was gracious to Ahab, the most evil king that ever-ruled Israel. When Ahab genuinely repented God was gracious; what a mighty God we serve!

Today we will look at one of the most important benefits of salvation; rest. God established rest as an essential part of the creation experience. We often say that God created the heavens and earth in six days and technically He did, BUT His account of creation included the day of rest. Does God need rest?  No! That is the most obvious answer you will ever have on a test. Yet God established an essential principle to mankind, even before the fall of man, we need rest.

There are many kinds of rest.  Physical rest of course in the form of sleep is essential.  As much as we boast of how little sleep we need to function, the truth is we need to sleep about 8 hours per night. Jesus needed sleep as a man, yes God slept. In Mark 4:38 and Matthew 8:24 we find accounts of Jesus sleeping so soundly that a storm could not wake him.

Jesus often went off by himself and we find Him reclining in many places. Jesus took the principle of rest very seriously. There is also mental rest; the rest from worrying. This kind of rest is the one that most of us get the least of.  We worry and worry about everything.  I am guilty of this. I read today where worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, there is a lot of movement, but you don’t get anywhere, how true.

We Are to Be Like Infants, Verse 25-26

We have three children—Ocean, North and Saturn. We love them dearly. Ocean and North are in their teens and they are beginning to understand money and both the power and restrictions it can bring. Saturn is about to turn 3 and she has no idea of what money is except that mommy gives it to her on Sundays to put in the offering. She offers to give the lady money at the grocery store and she is constantly asking for things, as do the teenagers.

Saturn does not worry about stuff. If she goes to the fridge and there are no grapes, she takes strawberries. She expects that when she wants or needs something it will be there. She is into pull-ups now and she just goes and gets them and puts them on. She knows where they are and she just gets them and puts them on when she needs one. She does not worry about pull-ups, food or anything else.

God wants us to be like infants—worry free. But one other thing that Jesus says here that we often miss is that it is to us—the infants, that God has revealed His secrets. Even some of the most revered men in the Old Testament did not understand God as we understand Him. They saw God once; in King David’s case He saw Him a few times and in Solomon’s case he saw God twice.

Yet God reveals Himself to us daily in and through His Holy Spirit. He lives in us and has written a canon of 66 books with which to teach us and make His mysteries known. You and I know more about the end than Daniel did. We know more about Jesus that Isaiah did. Isaiah saw Him in His glory, we see Him as a man.

We hear his speech, feel His touch and love His grace. We are loved and cared for like Saturn is loved and cared for, His loving grace is so open to us and yet we are often thankless and selfish.  We forget that God and Jesus love infants, they love their unfailing faith and love.  We are called to be infants in Jesus. We have the bodies of men, but the loving, unfailing faith of infants in that grown body. See Mathew 19:14:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.’”

Jesus Reveals God to Us, Verse 27

Jesus is the revelation of God to us.  John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is God.  John 10:30 tells us that Jesus and God are the same. John 14:19 says, if you have seen me you have seen the Father.  I can go on and on, but you get the picture.  Jesus is God and it is to us that this wonderful truth has been revealed.  One of the ways to find out if you are talking to a true believer is to ask them who Jesus is.

Many will say He is a good man, a good teacher, a historical figure and some will even deny His existence, but these are a few.  But when someone says He is God and then you know that you are speaking to a believer and this fact is revealed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit to us. 1 John 2:23 goes one step further and tells us that whoever denies the Son does NOT have the Father.  This is a serious statement, but it is one which weeds out true Christians from the pretenders.

I once had two Jehovah Witness fellows come to my home and argue that Jesus is the Son of God and as such could not be God since they are two people. We know that Jesus is the Son of God and sadly they forget that God is all powerful and able to do mysterious things, like come in the form of a man and yet still be the Omnipresent God. But just so that they could understand that Jesus by claiming to be the Son of God was actually claiming to be equal with God I shared with them this verses from John 5:17-18:

“But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ For        this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with  God.”

The Jews understood that by claiming to be God’s Son Jesus was claiming to be equal with God.  This is very important that we understand this; Jesus claimed that He was equal with God. The men of that day understood his claim and sought to stone him to death.

Death is the rightful punishment for blasphemy, claiming to be god when you are just a man.  This is the same reaction the High Priest had when they questioned Jesus during His trial (see Mark 14:62-64).

“And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.’ Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you? And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”

They understood that He was saying that He was and is the great I AM, God Himself. This is the proverbial line in the sand that one must cross to be a Christian.  One must accept that Jesus is God and not just a man. One must accept that God came to us when it was impossible for us to go to Him and that He saves those that are humble and call out to Him for forgiveness.

Have you done this?  Have you humbled yourself and called out to God, He is still waiting, He is still saving and He is still God.

Rest for Your Souls, Verses 29-30

Rest! This is almost a lost action in our world.  Even more so in the world of the NT church.  We treasure action, activity and work ethic.  God treasures rest.  God did not make the work week holy unto Him, but the Sabbath He made holy.  Israel was not supposed to forsake resting.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you” (Exodus 20:8-10).

It is amazing to me that God counted not resting as much a sin as adultery, lying and murder.  Did you get that? Now let us take this a step further, the Ten Commandments are divided into two sections, commandments 1-4 deal with our relationship to God and 5-10 deal with our relationship to our fellow man beginning with our parents.  Jesus said that the Law and the Prophets are summed up in two commandments in Luke 10:27:


To love God with all your heart includes a time of rest and restoration. Make no mistake, Jesus rested on every Sabbath that He walked on the earth. Yes, He healed the sick and He allowed His followers to pick and eat grain but He rested. His longest journey would have been about 2000 yards—a Sabbath day’s journey. He would have observed the Sabbath because He is Holy and could not sin even for millisecond.

Working ourselves to the bone is not a part of the faith that we have in Jesus.  And the work that Jesus does call us to do is not about us and our human efforts. Yes we have to go, yes we have to sow the seed BUT it is Jesus who does the real work.  His Holy Spirit does the convicting, His Word is the power and His blood saves sinners. We just tell them what He did and who He is.

The results are up to Jesus. I saw a wonderful post on Facebook just the other day a young lady mentioned that Hitler had millions of followers and Jesus had just 12.  The amount of followers is not a true reflection of success. Obedience to God is the only measure of success and in that obedience is the call to rest. In fact Jesus tells us that beyond physical rest that we all need; we will actually find the real rest that we crave, rest for our souls. Our minds will be at ease.

I fail in this matter so often. I worry that my failures are so great that God’s grace will run out.  Yet I see God’s grace in the life of Ahab an evil king and it humbles me to realize that His grace is eternally more than sufficient to cover, forgive and forget my sins. I fail in this matter as the financial storms of life never seem to go away; it appears that it is hurricane season in my wallet all the time.  But God offers me rest for my soul in that He has promised to supply ALL MY NEEDS.

The hardest thing to do for most of us is to let go and let God do His thing. This is what the Sabbath is really all about; it is about accepting that all that we have is from God. Not by working extra hard or working ourselves to the bone as they say, but it is God who supplies and when we have a proper relationship with Him we find time to rest; we rest our bodies in Holy worship to Him, and in turn He gives us rest for our souls. We have not truly rested until we have rested our souls in Jesus and He gives us the rest for our souls.

Have you rested in Jesus?

I asked Jesus to save me when I was 14 years old, about 35 years ago. But the older I get I find that resting in Him is harder and harder as the responsibilities and expectations of life mount. As we get closer to the judgment I am afraid to be found resting, when that is probably more holy that all the human effort that I can exhort.

I continue to try and solve all of our financial issues rather than trusting God. I run into a brick wall after brick wall and find myself exhausted and unraveled. I am not resting, thus I am sinning and making myself into an idol. Forgive me Lord.

I invite you to rest in Jesus. It is the only rest that you will ever have for real and it will last for an eternity. Stop trying to earn God’s favor, if you are lost you need to be saved and if you are saved God has already accepted you in Jesus. Stop trying to get what you already have. I leave you with this:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:1-6).