Finding Deep Rest in a Restless World

Earlier today I was listening, or rather, re-listening to a sermon by Tim Keller entitled ” work and rest. In this sermon Keller opens with the reading of the following passage from Luke 6:

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. (Luke 6:1-5)

I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure were Keller was going to go with this passage, but instead he pointed something out that I had never thought about before. The Pharisees were condemning Jesus’ disciples for taking grain because it was forbidden on the Sabbath. The religious leaders had regulations that forbid a Jew at the time from partaking in 39 different forms of work, and taking grain (harvesting)was one of them.

But instead of condemning the Pharisees for their manmade Sabbath regulations Jesus calls himself the lord of the Sabbath. Jesus was not telling them that their rules were stupid or didn’t matter, but instead was saying that his disciples could eat the grain because he was the ruler and fulfiller of the Sabbath. And if Jesus is the ruler and the fulfiller of the Sabbath (which is a day of rest) then we must also realize that real Sabbath resting is important to Jesus and it should be important to us.

Keller’s point was that Jesus didn’t do away with the Sabbath, but instead he confirms that it is important, and real Sabbath rest is something we all need. But how do we do that? How do we actually rest? Is it just taking days off from work or is it something more than that?

Keller aptly says that we are the most overworked culture in history in the United States and rest is at an all time low. Even when we take time off we aren’t really resting. We have technology at our finger tips that either keeps work on our minds 24/7 or is trying to sell us a lie that its many videos and images are what can satisfy us and make us happy. On top of that, we now live in a culture that teaches us that we create our own identity and happiness which keeps us in a constant state of trying to create purpose and meaning whether it is through friends, work, school, sports, video games, etc…

So then how do we rest in an ever increasing culture of work, entertainment, and a never ending search for meaning? How do we end our restlessness?

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

He also says in John 6:35:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

We come to Jesus realizing that our greatest longings, our identity, and our purpose or found and fulfilled in him. We begin to see that only Jesus will forever satisfy the true and deep cravings of your soul for identity, acceptance, forgiveness, and affirmation. Likewise we also reject the notion that work, school, friends, popularity, position, power, and money can fulfill the eternal longings of the soul.

So if you find yourself restless today I encourage you to turn to Jesus. Look to him to give you meaning, identity, and an eternal satisfaction that fulfills every hunger and thirst for your soul. Open his word, the words of life, and drink deeply from his truth. Let them sink into your hearts until he is the one whom you treasure and trust above all else, for only then will we all truly find rest.

(Note: This post is not written by an author who himself has done a great job of resting in Jesus, but rather it is written by a man who constantly struggles to rest in Jesus. As a result, their have been profoundly negative impacts on his life, health, marriage, family, and his ability to live the radical, yet joy filled life, of a Christian.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the things that you think about more than anything else?
  2. Relating to question 1: Why have you made those things the focus of your life and effort? Do you believe that they can satisfy you forever?
  3. Think of the phrase “Eternal satisfaction.” How would your life be different if you had “eternal satisfaction?”
  4. What changes could you begin to make in your life now that would allow you to find your eternal rest and satisfaction in Jesus?

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