“I will give you rest.” – Jesus

From the Vault

When I was studying the life of Moses, I was struck how God would give Israel a real, tangible *thing* and then in the New Testament, hundreds of years later, Jesus was that *thing* in a spiritual sense.

Here are some examples:

Old Testament shadow Jesus reality
The Passover lamb-  Exodus 12:43-50 (*verse 46) John 19:33, 36
Jesus, the lamb of God – John 1:29
The Rock — Exodus 33:12-23 (this one blew my mind…to see how we hide in Jesus, the Rock, to get a glimpse of God’s glory). Psalm 19:14 – describes the Lord as our rock and our redeemer
Water from the Rock- Exodus 17 Jesus – 1 Corinthians 10:1-5 –
John 4:10-15
The Manna (bread from heaven)- Exodus 16 Jesus is the “true bread from heaven” – John 6:31, 32

Finally, one life-changing day when a friend encouraged me to read Colossians 2:16-17 and Hebrews 3 and 4. I finally *got* that the very real Sabbath was realized in the person of Jesus.

I was free to stop working to be counted as righteous before the Father.
I could stop working to prove my loyalty to the Creator.
I could rest in Him and His finished work at the cross.

It’s something that I haven’t been able to articulate to many people so they get it. The other day I was reading John 6:48 and I wondered, if it was written like this (see below), would my sabbatarian friends get what it means that Jesus is our rest?  But first, let’s read the real passage and context:

John 6 (you’ve gotta read all this or you won’t even get what I’m talking about)

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
 28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
 30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
 32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
 34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
 43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. 45 As it is written in the Scriptures,[i] ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
 47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
 52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
 53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

Here’s my adaptation of verses 48-51 (with Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30):

“Yes, I am the Sabbath-rest. Your ancestors kept the 7th day but they never stopped working under the law. Anyone who comes to me, will find rest for their souls. I am the Sabbath-rest. Anyone who is weary and carries heavy burdens may find rest in me. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light.”

I guess this is the same confusion and dilemma when we Former Adventist try to explain the Jesus reality of Sabbath. You can almost hear the crowd saying, “How can this man give us rest?”
“And besides…we LOOOOOOOVE Sabbath,” they say.
No SDA will ever admit that the Sabbath is part of her salvation package. They love it. They see it as something they want to do.It’s a much needed-respite from a hectic week. It’s unthinkable to give it up. It’s unthinkable to even want to give it up (“Yeah, yeah, spiritual rest, Jesus, what I need is my day off! Keep your “bread from heaven,” Jesus, we’re huuuuuuungry!”)
Plus, it’s part of God’s immutable law, isn’t it?
Plus, what about the Sunday Laws?!!?!
And the persecution of Sabbath-keepers in the end times?!
As a born and raised SDA, I can honestly say that Sabbath-keeping is part love of fellowship and disconnecting and part fear. So you work hard to make sure the Sabbath is a delight and all conversations and activities are pleasing in His sight.
But how can a soul find rest when it’s working (obligatorily resting) under the fear of condemnation?
How can a soul find rest when it’s busy “guarding the edges of the Sabbath,” convinced that this is how you’re supposed to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?”
Jesus said then, and TODAY he says: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I’ve come to realize that phrases like “Jesus is our Sabbath rest” don’t mean a hill of beans to my Adventist friends. “What about the Sabbath?” is the number one asked question when people learn about our story of leaving Adventism. I try to explain as succinctly as possible, but I sense that people don’t leave with their questions answered, with any satisfaction that they just had a light-bulb moment.
Sometimes I wonder. Can you understand what it means to rest in Jesus, before you rest in Jesus? Or is it one of those things you do out of obedience, in faith, and then you grasp the reality?
My sincere prayer is that anyone who reads this will find rest in Him. Soften their hearts Lord, in order to discover the beauty, the sanctity, the reality of rest in You. Amen.