“Jesus is our Sabbath Rest”
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”- Matthew 11:28
We studied this verse last week. We are going to delve into it further today from the perspective of Sabbath. The context of Sabbath in Matthew 12, right after 11:28, helps us to understand that Jesus is our Sabbath rest.
Sabbath is a day observed by many Jews. Some observe itfor religious reasons [religious Jews], and others for cultural reasons [secular Jews]. There are even churches like Seventh Day Adventists that observe the Sabbath.
So, what is Sabbath? What is its purpose? Why was it instituted? Jesus addressed some of these questionsin Matthew 12, but remember the immediate context of Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me…and I will give you rest.”
What is interesting to note is that Jesus broke allreligious tradition of the Sabbath, which was one of the things that got Him in trouble with the religious leaders. He even called Himself, “Lord of the Sabbath” [Mark 2:28].
The word “Sabbath” is derived from the Hebrew Sabbat, which means seventh.Sabbath therefore has less to do with rest and more to do with ceasing from work.“Sabbath” is a derivative of Sabbat, seventh, that on Sabbat, the seventh day, God “ceased from work.” The all-powerful God was not tired after six days of creation, He did not need to rest; rather, on the seventh day He “ceased from work,” to reflect on His creation that was “exceedingly good.”
“Ceasedfrom work” [as opposed to rest] provides deeper insight into themeaning of Sabbath, especially for Israel under the Law of Moses. On Sabbat, the seventh day, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Israel, a theocratic nation, was to nationally cease from work and reflect on God’s work [i.e., worship]. However, did “ceasing from work” mean not helping someone in need, even saving their life? Did it mean not feeding someone who was hungry [ref. 12:1-8]? Did it mean not helping your sheep if it fell into a pit [ref. Matt 12:11]?
Jesus addressed these kinds of questions on the Sabbath, and every time “religious tradition” of the dayrejectedHis answers.
The New Testamentclearly teaches that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. Hebrews 4 is a powerful commentary on that very point, and provides deeper insight into, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is our daily Sabbath rest, not just weekly. So how does that work?
You see, rest is not only sitting and sleeping. It includes that but Sabbath Rest is so much more. Sabbath rest means peace with God and resting in that peace, and that comes by way of the Person Jesus Christ.
A crying baby does not rest by law and logic; no, it is when daddy or mommy comes. That is thefundamental dynamic of Sabbath. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is our Sabbath rest.