Summary: Where can we find true rest for our souls? Do we find true rest on a Sabbath day, in a promised land, or in Jesus and in eternity? Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about rest in Matthew 11:16-30.
Where can we find true rest for our souls? Do we find true rest on a Sabbath day, in a promised land, or in Jesus and in eternity? Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about rest in Matthew 11:16-30.
“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:16-19 NKJV)
This is an allegory of children in a public square arguing while playing make-believe funerals and weddings. Some church music sounds like a dirge and some like a wedding. Do we childishly criticize legitimate and moral choices like John the Baptist “neither eating nor drinking” versus Jesus “eating and drinking?”
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24 NKJV)
Why did Jesus denounce three small towns in Galilee? Other, sinful cities would have repented. Jesus pointed out a problem with judgmental people, unwillingness to repent. Jesus said it would be more tolerable for Sodom in judgment. Why? It’s not where we start, but where we end up that counts.
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:25-27 NKJV)
Why can’t our most highly educated and greatest minds bring about peace? Why can’t the wealthy and powerful of the world understand that their greed and selfishness destroys their own families and the world? God hides these things from the worldly wise and prudent and reveals them to humble “babes.”
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV)
Our permanent Sabbath rest is in Jesus in our eternal promised land (Hebrews 3-4). No Christian keeps the letter of the law as Deuteronomy (which expounds the Ten Commandments) demands. Some try to keep the law in the letter and the spirit, but the letter kills (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Christians keep the whole law in spirit, not the letter. The New Testament mandates no day. Our true rest is in Jesus not a day, circumcision is not in the flesh but in the heart (Romans 2:29), and love fulfills the whole law (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14).
Jesus offers a rest that no one else can give, that no letter-of-the-law Saturday Sabbath observance can give. Rest is offered to all, rest in Jesus, the rest of a quiet conscience, the rest of friendship with God, the rest of forgiveness, rest from fears, and rest for our souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30 NKJV)
The church has often been tempted to add to Jesus’ easy burden, the heavy burden of man-made practices and doctrines, weights, cumbersome rituals, Pharisaic rules, and unbearable religious demands that neither Jesus nor His Apostles taught. We must always beware not to add to the light load that Jesus gave.
Hebrews 3:7-4:11 A Promise of Rest
Under Moses, a Sabbath-keeping people did not enter the land of rest (3:11), because of disobedience and unbelief (3:18-19). A promise remains of entering His (eternal) Sabbath rest through believing (4:3). The physical Sabbath pictures our rest in Jesus, available Today, while it is still called today.