Finding Rest

Mark 2:27, “And He was saying to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.'”

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One of my favorite things to do in life is sleep! There is nothing like taking a warm shower after a hard day’s work (or endless hours of study) and slipping into the crisp sheets of a freshly made bed. Drifting away from life’s challenges and struggles for a night of rest is refreshing and gets me pumped up to do it all over again the next day.

Today as I started journeying through the Gospel of Mark, I was reminded that we all need time to rest. We need time to recharge so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. Even God rested after 6 days of creation. The idea that we need sleep is not new.

Yesterday I was browsing the web and stumbled across this article. Today, scientists are trying to discover why we sleep- especially compared to other animals who demonstrate no signs of needing sleep at all. Regardless of how you view the reason for the need to sleep, it is interesting to think about the human body’s inherent need for rest. In a Christian world view, rest is connected to cessation from work in order to remember that blessing, deliverance and provision come from the Lord.

In Torah, the first mention of the Sabbath is found in Exodus 16 where God instructs his people to gather up food on the 6th day and make provisions for rest on the 7th. His people would have to trust Him for their needs. As God gave Torah to his people, he was giving it to a people of an agrarian culture. (It would be considered foolish not to work 7 days a week- especially during harvest when a storm could come in and obliterate an entire crop.) When God gave the commandment to rest, it served as a reminder that the fruit of labor is a blessing and gift from God and not solely a product of human hands. As long as Israel paid attention to where their blessings would come from (God), life would go well.

So we can see that the Sabbath was a gracious gift to God’s people. The Sabbath was made as a blessing for Israel. Not only could they rest from hard work, but they had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of labor with their God. It was a time to celebrate and give God praise for His good gifts to his people. However, just like other times when religious leaders obliterated the intentions of God’s Laws, this one was no different.

In Mark 2, Jesus was correcting and redirecting the people of His day. The Sabbath became an instrument of evil for the religious faithful where they would fail to do what was right and good on account of a religious rule. So it was no surprise that the Pharisees were stirred up when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. They did not understand that resting and remembering their Maker and Giver of life does not exempt them from the greater law of love. This means that when God’s people rest, they are to, in a sense, rest in peace, shalom- experience and extend peace and fullness of life. Shalom is what we are to have when we rest.

So what does that mean for today? For me, historically this passage has been extremely relevant since I am a registered nurse. I have to admit that since I have worked as a nurse for the past 6 years, I have struggled to maintain a good attitude of going to work on weekends, especially Sundays. Sundays have traditionally been my day of rest. However, naming a day “Sunday,” and then doing nothing on it does not mean that I am resting in the way that God instructs.

For health care workers, Sundays can be the greatest time to help others to find rest and shalom. It is a day to serve others to help them find wholeness and fullness in life. The main thing is that we are all intentional in finding at least one day out of the week to enjoy the fruits of our labor and experience for ourselves fullness of life as we enjoy our provisions with the Lord. But, when we do this, we cannot forget the greater law to love others- even when a need infringes on this time. How are you doing with finding rest?

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