Lord Jesus, Give Us Your Rest

Easter Sunday + April 1, 208 + Pr. Dale Reckzin                                                           Download PDF

Text: Exodus 20:8-11

“OK. OK.  You told me about your new car ten times already.  Give it a rest.” “My boss keeps piling on the work. I wish he would give it a rest.”  “My neighbor’s dogs bark all night long. Can’t they give it a rest?”

“Give it a rest.”  You say that when you want someone to stop something that stresses you out.  But that’s life.  Stress is everywhere. Stress fills family life, the workplace, the roadways, the supermarkets, and visits to the doctor or dentist.  On top of that you suffer stress from internal conflict and guilt.

Doctors tell us that stress leads to insomnia, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Stress can take years off our life. Stress is nasty.  So, wouldn’t it be great to be stress-free?  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have no pressure, no deadlines, and no embarrassing situations?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful never to worry about money or health or crime or terrorism?

Well, such a life is yours.  Our text from Exodus 20 foreshadows the everlasting, stress-free, problem-free life of eternal rest that Jesus provides. Our text describes the Jewish Sabbath Day.  So, today, on Easter, we turn our attention to how Jesus was the fulfillment of that Old Testament Sabbath, the day of rest. So, on this Day or Easter, we pray Lord Jesus, give us your rest.

Now, “Sabbath” is Hebrew for ‘rest.’  Listen again to our text: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord…On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth… but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

The Lord made the Sabbath Day ‘holy.’  ‘Holy’ means ‘set apart for a special purpose.’  So, the Jews had to set the whole Sabbath day apart for the Lord.  They could do not work for themselves. On the Sabbath, they were to remember all the wonderful things God had done for them.

Our text specifically mentions God’s work of creation.  In six days God created all that exists.  He ‘rested’ on the seventh day.  Of course, God did not rest because he was tired.   A better way to understand how God rested would be to say, “God spent a full day of not creating to show that he was finished creating. His work of creating was perfect. Nothing more needed to be done.”

That’s how the Sabbath Day prefigures eternal life in heaven.  In the beginning God created a perfect world. Heaven is also perfect.  So, Heaven is the paradise of the Garden of Eden restored to God’s creation.

That brings up the big problem.  We currently do not enjoy either the perfection of God’s original creation or the perfection of heaven.  We live between Eden and Heaven.  We live in a sinful world. 

And the symptoms of sin are all around us.  Sin makes us complain, “I have so much stress at work. My family life is so stressful.  I toss and turn all night long.  I never get any rest.  If only I could pay all the bills on time, then I’d be stress-free.  If only my health would improve, then I wouldn’t worry so much.”  Well, conflict, stress, sickness and every problem we have—all these come from sin.  Sin stained and spoiled God’s prefect creation. 

And the inescapable proof of sin’s power is death.  The book of Romans says, "The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23)  We all sin. We all die. So, the grave is sin’s final act. The grave is sin’s ultimate insult.  The grave is sin’s worst curse.

  But, my friends, the grave….is empty!  When Christ rose from the dead, he trumped sin’s strongest weapon. Jesus trumped death. Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15:55)

Jesus gives us the victory over death by his death on the cross. Jesus gives us the victory of life by rising from his grave three days later. Now, by God’s gift of faith in the crucified and risen Jesus, you will rise from your grave just like Jesus rose from his grave.  

But, how you can be sure that Jesus will give you the everlasting, stress-free rest of heaven? That’s where the Sabbath Day comes in. Remember, God said, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work." (v. 9-10)

 God told the Jews, “Do like I did when I finished creating the world.  I rested on the seventh Day.  You must also rest on the Sabbath and do no work.” Well, like Father, like Son. God, the Father created the world.  God, the Son, rescued the fallen world from sin, death, and Satan.  After God the Father finished his perfect work of creating the world, he rested.  Likewise, after Jesus Christ, God the Son, finished his perfect work of rescuing and redeeming the world, he also rested.

 When Jesus lay dead in his tomb, it was on the Sabbath day.  On that Sabbath day in the tomb Jesus did not do any work.  He didn’t have to.  His work of paying for the sins of the whole world was already done. On the cross, Jesus cried out, "It is finished." (John 19:30)   So, when Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath Day, it was not because he was tired.  It wasn’t because he had to pay for some more sins that he didn’t pay for on the cross. No, instead, Christ’s Sabbath Day in the tomb was to proclaim that he could rest in his tomb because his work was done.  That Easter Sabbath Day proclaimed, “Jesus took a full day of not working to pay for our sins. That’s because Jesus finished his work of being our Savior. Nothing more needed to be done.”

That’s why Jesus brings us the ultimate in peace and rest and stress-free living.  Jesus has done everything to save you. You never have to worry, Have I gone to church enough to earn my spot in heaven.  Have I given enough offerings to pay my way into paradise?  Have I served enough, loved enough, helped enough, been patient enough so I can go to heaven?

Now certainly, we want to do all those things and more. We want to thank Jesus for his gift of the salvation. But the fact remains.  Forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation is a gift. Jesus earned that gift. Jesus freely gives it to us.

So, do you want to get rid of stress, frustration, pain and suffering?  Do you want to get away from sin?  Do you want to escape death itself?  Well, you can. You will.  Since Jesus rose from the dead, you, too, will rise from your grave.  Since Jesus lives in heaven, you, too, will live in heaven with Jesus. 

So, Jesus is the ultimate escape from stress, sin, and death. The book of Hebrews says, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest (That is, anyone who believes in Jesus) also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Heb. 4:9)

 So, God the Father rested on the Sabbath Day to show that he had done his work of creating perfectly. Jesus Christ, God the Son, rested in his tomb on the Sabbath to show that he had perfectly done his work of paying for our sins.   Now, in the Old Testament God told the Jews to do no work as a way to remember his work of creating them.  Now, today, in the New Testament, God invites you to do no work to save yourself. Rather, when it comes to conquering sin, death, and Satan we simply trust that Jesus has perfectly done all that work for us.  That’s why Jesus says:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)  And so, we pray: “Lord Jesus, give us your rest. Give us your rest now.  Give us your rest forever in heaven.” Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

Amen.