Make every effort to enter THAT rest
SIGH. Let out a big breath and sigh with me. Relax your shoulders. Get comfortable. Close your eyes. We will all take a big breath, breathing in while I count to 6. Then we will breath out while I count to 4. Do this 3 times. Anyone who has been counseled through anxiety, stress, or anger knows this technique. Deep breathing helps you rest and distress
. Matthew records Jesus calling the “weary and burdened” to him for rest. The question for us today is not “If you are burdened” but “What is your burden?” We all carry some burden. We live in a world that is full of sin and is destined for destruction. Is it your job, or lack thereof, that is burdening you? There is that one project, task, coworker, or boss that makes your job a burden. Do you consider your family a burden? Has Covid complied the already-existent stresses or
exposed a wound that has been festering beneath the surface? Do you feel your parents are burdening you and you want to escape? Is the behavior of your kids the stressful burden? Do you carry the load of stress from the news and political battles in our nation? Have you been betrayed? Is your burden guilt, sin, regret, or self-loathing? You have a
burden. You know your burden because you hold it close to your heart. You want release from that burden. We all do. Many people believe that Christian faith is supposed to do the trick. “Faith in Jesus will help us find the silver lining in every dark storm cloud.” The trouble is that life doesn’t work that way. A group of Christians in the early years of its
development figured that out. When they didn’t seem to find the temporary happiness they were looking for, they started to drift back to the rules and regulations of the Old Testament Jewish practices to find security. Unfortunately, their idea of rest was found in more regulations. The author of the book of Hebrews entices them to return to real rest
found only in Jesus. You will see that rest is the theme of these next verses as we look a little closer at them. 1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen
short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. (better translated: “because they were not united in faith with those who did listen.” The combining/uniting is not with the action of hearing but with the people who did the hearing.) 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”The point of this is to emphasize how faith gives us the rest with all those who have died before us. Faith in the promise
of Jesus Christ, even for those who lived and died before Jesus came who had faith in the same promise, gives eternal rest. God promises rest, eternal rest. This does not escape the reality of our world of sin. Christianity is not a big self-help group, where we simply forget our troubles by thinking happy thoughts to chase the blues away. If we were on our own, that’s what we would come up with. “What’s the fix? What do I have to do find rest?” And when we don’t get the answers we are looking for, we turn to destructive behaviors. We self-medicate with technology, social media, substance abuse, and pornography. We take out the stress on others in anger, resentment, and bitterness. We need rest or we will destroy ourselves and each other. 6 Therefore, since it is still the case that some do enter this rest, and yet those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not enter because of disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, namely, “today,” when he later said through David, as quoted before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For, if Joshua had given
them rest, then God would not have spoken later about another day.
The people were looking for rest in the past. Today is the time for rest. This “today” is patterned after the 7 days. The author just spoke about the 7th day being a special day because God rested on it. Many Christians in the first century started gathering for worship on Sunday, the day after the 7th day. That is the day that Jesus rose from the dead but it is
also a picture of the 8th day we yearn for. Every week has its cycle of work and rest. Each day there is a period of work and rest. Each week has a period of work and rest. God established this cycle. The benefits of rest are being proven in study after study that rest is one of the most important things you can do for productivity and energy. But it is a never-
ending cycle: work and rest, work and rest, work and rest. It seems to drone on and on and the rest we receive is so fleeting. It leaves us yearning for that 8th day of rest. The rest that will not stop. The first Joshua, the one who lived at about 1500 BC who brought the people into the promised land of rest, couldn’t provide eternal rest. The second Joshua (Jesus) could. The author uses play on words using the name Jesus. In Hebrew, it is Joshua. It is means “God is Savior.” Today is the day of rest. Today it comes through Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can give rest because he is your rest. Jesus became rest by taking on all your burdens.
Sometimes we limit Jesus’ work on the cross to bearing only sin. Hear me correctly. Sin is our greatest burden. Sin is what condemns you. Unresolved guilt can cause a huge burden in your life, even if you don’t realize it. The burden of all your sins; past, present, and future, was placed on Jesus. The penalty for that was a huge weight to bear, so heavy that
Jesus was physically and emotionally exhausted during the process. But that is not all the burden he bore. He also bore your fear, anxiety, stress, rejection, and everything. He lifts off your great burdens and puts them on his own shoulders. We don’t need a coach to teach us to carry it ourselves, we need a Savior who can take it all away. The rest he gives is eternal rest. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God rested from his work. 11Therefore, let us make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. The rest the author is talking about is the rest of heaven. That is when all your hardships will end. Your faith unites you with all those who are in that rest right now. There, you will rest from all your labors. But not yet. In the book, 3 Words that Will Change Your Life, Pastor Mike Novatni from Time of Grace Ministries references the power of “That.” “That” is
everything in life that does not go well. “That” is every reminder that God sends or allows to come into our life that is the burden. It is every reminder that here is not our home. Here is not where we find eternal rest. This world is not made to be our place of comfort and security. Only Jesus can fulfill that role. Vacation is a great reminder of “That.” Vacation’s purpose is to provide rest. Unless vacation becomes the burden. We just got back from one of those types of vacations. I could feel the stress melt away as we started our drive almost three
weeks ago. We would be on the road seeing God’s great creation and have little/no stress. Our transmission went out, we took much longer to drive than expected because of the car troubles, we got it rebuilt in Las Vegas, we rented a vehicle to get us to our goal destination of Yosemite National Park, the transmission was still broken, we lost 4 days fixing the van and ultimately purchasing different vehicle to get us home. After we got home, we thought our mail was stollen (it wasn’t) and then there is the work of unpacking. That is my big reminder that true rest comes only with God. So every time you are reminded of your burden, take a deep breath, and say “That.” No one wants to experience burden in this life. But use the burdens here and now to point to you THAT rest, the eternal rest in Jesus.