rest


This is the second in a series of posts about following Jesus in rest.

For the first, go here.

In Matthew chapter 3, we find Jesus going to John the Baptist … to be baptized!

It occurs to me to wonder, why did Jesus do this? Baptism is an outward symbol of inward repentance, a burying of the old self and a birth of the new. Since Jesus had never sinned, he had nothing to repent of. John knew this. He asks Jesus, why are you here? I need to be baptized by you!

Jesus answer is that it is right to do this to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, this is how God planned it from the beginning, so this is how we’re going to do it. Jesus knows that it is not wise to try to get ahead of God, to second guess, to try to do things in one’s own way and in one’s own strength. He has waited, honoring his family commitments until this moment, the right time, the right place. Jesus knew that there is a proper order to things and it is best left to God the Father. Jesus rested in the timing of God. Can we do that? Can we trust God enough to wait? To know that he has amazing things in store for us and blessings that we can’t even imagine?

If we wait and trust … we rest.

If we strive and push and manipulate … we stress.

Additionally, we see the Spirit descending on Jesus … clearly the rest of God is facilitated by the Spirit. The more we walk with the Spirit … the more restful we will find our lives.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 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.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been working my way through a devotional by Alicia Britt Chole called “Intimate Conversations”. Today’s excerpt was based on the concept of providing for rest and margin in one’s life. This seemed to me especially fitting since it is the beginning of my spring break. I decided to take these as my theme verses for spring break.

Alica suggests that the reader “learn from” Jesus by reading through the gospels and getting a sense of the flow of Jesus life. How did he rest? How was his yoke easy? With all the demands on his life, how did he keep from becoming frazzled and burned out?

I thought it would be a great exercise and decided to read through Matthew with that aim and to share it here, with those of you who are still reading despite my seriously sporadic publishing.

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In Matthew chapters 1 and 2, of course, Jesus is not teaching anything yet; but I note two things:

First, whenever God told Joseph to go … he went. Immediately and without question. It must not have been particularly restful at the time … but from it I conclude that it is more restful to say yes to God than no. (Just make sure it IS God you are saying yes to and not your colleague, your pastor, your Sunday School Superintendent … ).

Second, Jesus is given many names in this short chapter. He is Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (1:21); He is Immanual, God with us (1:23); and in chapter 2 verse 6 He is identified as the Shepherd of Israel.

Jesus had a destiny to fulfill, a purpose for being on this earth. I imagine that, at least in part, His serenity came from living in that purpose and letting nothing distract Him from fulfilling that destiny. Part of our journey on earth surely must be to discover that purpose, that thing which God has prepared in advance for us to do, and living in it. It sounds restful, doesn’t it?

My name (Anna) means grace … which is kinda funny, because I’m a little clumsy. But I am growing into my name spiritually – becoming more and more able to offer grace instead of judgement, to give others the benefit of the doubt, to begin to see people the way Jesus sees them. But the Bible says that the one who overcomes will get a new name (Rev. 2:17). Perhaps, our journey on earth is to become fitted for that new name, and as we become more and more aware of who God has made us to be, and as we conform more and more to that name, we experience more and more of that elusive rest that is spoken of in Matthew …

… what do you think?