God gave the gift of rest to us. He showed that gift to us on the seventh day when He rested from all of His creation work. He instituted a pattern of resting each seventh day and even included that in 'The Big Ten'...found in Exodus 20 and Deut 5. The Israelites took those laws very seriously as they should. The seventh day was called Sabbath (rest).
Over time, the people seemed to forget that their rest came from God and seemed to believe that their rest came from Sabbath. When we lose sight of the Creator we can wrongly worship the creation. When we lose sight of The Giver of all good gifts we can begin to worship the gift itself. In our text today, Jesus speaks a bold statement about this very topic:
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 3:27-28 NLT)
Again, the Sabbath was given to man as a gift of rest. If you read the whole text (or even all of Chapter 2), you begin to see that these folks may be keeping seventh day traditions but they are not resting very well? They had lost sight of their God who had given them rest and had begun to work harder than anyone else in 'keeping the law' and 'enforcing the law'.
Jesus knew what they needed just as He knows what you and I need. They needed to:
1. Understand the heart of God and the purpose of Sabbath. They had put the law (and the keeping of it) on a high pedestal so that it had become more important than anything. It topped human need and it seemed to have even topped God. Jesus re-orients them to realize that God's created humanity and gave them the blessing of all the other things He created and instituted...including the rest that came from Sabbath. It was a gift of His love, not a burden of His law.
2. Recognize the Giver of Sabbath rest so they too could enjoy that rest. You can not honor the Sabbath and reject The Lord of it. Can you imagine Moses arguing with God on Mt. Sinai when He recieved the 10 commandments? They were fussing at the giver of the law and they didn't know it. Jesus revealed Himself to them with this statement and they would have to choose to serve the law or its Maker.
This was the prescription they needed but they wouldn't take it. Jesus offered them true rest in Him but they didn't accept it. They continued on their tiresome journey of law-keeping. They continued to wait for God to send them deliverance...all the while missing the fact that their Deliverer came near and offered them New Life.
Jesus offers you the only true rest you will ever find in this life. Here His Word to you this morning:
Then Jesus said, “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 NLT)
Rest Up now. Rest in Him.