Sermon Manuscript

A Rested Family
Matt 11:28-12:8

Happy Fourth of July to you. I hope you had a refreshing day or two off. Summer is normally a time we slow down a little bit from the business of life. Some of you may still be going strong. But generally we have a little more rest and relaxation. I want to talk about rest today. This is not to make you feel guilty for resting the last few days. Hopefully it encourages you for slowing down a bit.

It seems that everyone is crazy busy today. If you talk to families with kids, or really anybody today, you hear how busy everybody is. Running from this place to that place. This activity to another. We maximize our efficiency. We have to answer an email, get back to this person, meet a deadline in the office, etc. There is no margin in life. Margin is the empty space on a paper. It has a purpose. It frames the text. A page with no margin would be undiscernable. Margin helps us see new paragraphs, new sections. In life margin is what we do when we aren't doing stuff. We need a little margin in our lives. We need some space that helps us transition, that frames what is important. This is why people are burning out.

Burnout is defined as a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion caused by living too fast a pace for loo long, or by living with too many stresses in our lives, and recent studies show 80 percent of people struggle with it. Common causes are: work pressure, overwork, not enough sleep, too little exercise or criticism from others.  What might a day of rest do for people.

And so we are looking at a passage on this topic. There is an argument over the topic of rest, and in this Jesus shows the true way to rest.


28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." 3 He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." (Matthew 11:25-8 ESV)

Prop: We are all prone to physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout, and that is why we need to find rest in God. Jesus is the Lord of rest and he alone is the one that refreshes our souls.

The Creational Law of Rest

So many people are tired and worn out physically and spiritually. Jobs can be demanding. It is hard to get away from work. You can work anywhere, anytime and that means you are never off. Emails hunt you down no matter where you hide. Kids events, different demands of work and life, and the need to always be doing something all run us ragged. Some people feel guilty for resting, for getting some time away. We can't sit in a room with strangers without looking at a phone. We busy ourselves to avoid awkward moments. I think you need to hear God’s command to you to rest. You are commanded to rest.

The background of this passage is that God commands his people to rest. It is part of his creational design. Rest was instituted at creation (Gen 2:2), follows God’s example (Gen 2:2,3), is listed in the ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17), and here is affirmed a place in the Lordship of Christ.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

In speaking of the Sabbath the great theologian BB Warfield said,

“This is the day on which the tired body rests from its appointed labor; on which the worn spirit finds opportunity for recuperation; an oasis in the desert of earthly cares, when we can escape for a moment from the treadmill toil of daily life and, at leisure from ourselves, refresh our souls in God.

The Hebrew word sbat (Sabbath) means to stop doing something, to cease an activity. It means to rest. We need rest. We need to stop.

Resting is a core part of the Christian faith. Work six rest one. This is given to heads of household but they are to ensure their servants, their kids, even their livestock observe it. May have something to do with the fact that if your kids or animals aren’t resting then you aren’t either!

Weekly Rest, Special Rest: Seasonal and prolonged times of rest. Don't have exact parallels for today but time work was limited, (Ex 23:14-16, Num 28:18, 25, 26, 29). Daily Rest (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). And there was morning and there was evening.”

Here we are talking about weekly rest. And you need this. You need down time. Find times for your mind to rest.

“Few things are as theological as sleep. Show me your sleep pattern and I will show you your theology.” Reset 54. David Murray

Roger Federer sleeps 11-12 hours per night. Usain Bolt 10. Lebron James 12 hrs. NBA star Grant Hill said sleep is as important as diet and exercise. You probably say, well I m not a professional athlete. Correct. And you may do intellectual work around a computer. When was the last time you got away for a solid 12 hours. How about 24 hrs. You need to rest.

Imagine going around all day with a fully flexed bicep. Are we giving our minds time to rest. The sabbath is a gracious act of kind to refresh us. Amazed how people get burned out and they fault everyone else for their problems; even God.

The intent of a Sabbath day was not just idleness and sitting on the couch doing nothing, but it was also a day holy to the Lord. We rest from earthly work in order to focus on heavenly work. We are to make the day holy (Ex 20:8). We make it holy by ….

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Ex 20:8

“The seventh day did not call for a withdrawal of activity but a renewal of vitality.” Samuel Terrien.

This renewal comes from activity that seeks God by keeping the day holy (Ex 20:8). Don't profane the day by idleness (WLC 119). It was Jesus habit to attend church service (Luke 4:16).

Times in prayer, Bible reading, church, bring us into God’s presence, but also help us see our lives and responsibilities from a divine perspective. These are a quieting of our hearts, a time of filling our hearts and mind with truths about our reality rather than the feelings of our circumstances.

You need to rehab your soul. Take a day off. Spend a good portion of that reading your Bible. Memorize Scripture.

We need to have healthy rhythms of life. Do you have a conviction about resting? If you don't have a conviction about this, you are not going to rest. There are too many things pushing and pulling you.

It's not about not working. Work is good. Resting forces you to work when you need to work. It's like going to be late. You get to bed later and you wake up later. You have to sleep sometime. But you can end up sleeping when you need to be working with others. This slippery slope spirals down.

We need rest and we need it more than we think. Few people have defined patterns of rest and their lives just become a smudge of undefinable color of work and rest, neither working nor resting as effectively as they should.

Two days of sleep reduction lead to 20 percent reduction in attention spans, reaction times, strength, stamina, accuracy, and speed.

Are we teaching and modeling for our kids healthy rhythms for life? Can you just sit quietly in a room or house with your kids? Do they see the value and place of church and worship. Or stitting together as a family resting. Not giving in to the frenetic pace of our culture. And generally valuing down time, daily devotions, holidays.

Resting in Freedom

Now one of the things going on in this passage is that certain religious teachers called Pharisees are accusing Jesus of wrongdoing. They have a legalistic view of the sabbath. They didn't want to break God’s law so they created all these ways to fence the commandment to ensure you didn't break the command. Then that extra fencing became as important as the command.

They said things like: you couldn't walk more than 1200 feet (Acts 1:12), aid an animal fallen in a pit (Luke 14:5), or even light a fire (Ex 35:3). These were work and broke the commands. 1199 and you are fine, but not 1200. Might watch someone and think did he work or not. Let's get the tape measure out. They missed the point.

Jesus rejects this. One thing he does here is he does not abolish sabbath, but he shows the true intent of the command, and this cuts through the Pharisees wrong understanding.

Jesus changed the old testament commands. They find their true fulfillment in him. They are internalized. In Matt 5 Adultery is not just a physical act but it is looking at someone with lustful intent. Murder is not just killing someone but even hating them. Idolatry is not just worship at the feet of a pagan statue but it is what we trust in our hearts. Some commandments are heightened but some experience a laxity, a loosening of the standard. The sabbath is one of those.

Jesus showed the true intent of the Sabbath was to do good and bring restoration. People were not created for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was created for people. It was a tool to be used by them. David demonstrates that too. His men were fleeing for their lives from Saul, and they came to the temple and the only food to eat was the sacred bread of presence. They broke the tradition, because the true intent was for God to give his people life, not to bind them with punishment.

In a similar way, we are freed from legalistic standards. We are not going to have a right relationship with God because of how well we rest. We can only be made right with God through a relationship with Christ. We need to move from a legalistic observation to a willful observation of God’s goodness.

Now it is permissible to do work on the sabbath. The Westminster Confession mentions permitting works of necessity. Some have pointed out the disciples were certainly hungry but more than likely they were not going to die. So we are to observe a day of rest but we shouldn’t be legalistic about it. Some of you might need to tighten your observation of it.

Jesus brings freedom from legalistic rules. Difference between having to do something and wanting to do it. My experience

from demands of Others

One interesting thing in this passage is the external pressure on Jesus and his disciples around the topic of rest. The legalistic understanding is being enforced by people. People have expectations on them. They have expectations on you. We have external pressure too. We have external pressure on deadlines, people wanting things from us, the need to pass classmates for grades, getting into college, expectations on sports teams. The pressure is to do, do, do. They had pressure to do nothing.

You are going to disappoint someone. Are you OK with that? If not then you are going to get run ragged. Resting in God allows us to be at rest when others are disappointed even angry at us. Are you in that place?

It is hurtful when people say wrong things about you. You are going to be made fun of, ridiculed, people are going to say you are wrong. It will happen in the world and it might even happen in your religious community as it does here. Do you realize Jesus was the sinless Savior and he was reviled by the chosen people.

If it happened with Jesus it will happen with you.

Need freeing from approval of others.

Parents your kids are going to be fine if they don't do a particular sport or activity. Does your schedule allow time to just be together. Don't feel like you need to change the other. Are you trusting God with their future? A lot of the pace kids experience is because of the parents problems.

Mom’s. You need time away and to recuperate. Your husband may not do things the way you want or you do them, but they will be ok. Get out for a couple hours a week and do something to refresh yourself. Find ways to get time in the Word. Go for a quiet walk, enjoy God’s creation.

Rest in the Lord

The greatest rest that we need is not found in a day, a time, but in a person. We won’t find rest for our minds or bodies if we do not find rest for our hearts. Much of our frantic pace is trying to do things that will better us. But hasn’t Jesus done the very thing that betters our life more than anything else. He has atoned for our sins. Because of him we can enter into the rest of God . He has overcome Satan and death. He gives rest to our souls. That is rest. (Josh Blunt)

Because of Jesus we can work hard. We work with all our heart. We can also rest with all of our hearts. We can work more effectively because we are trusting God with our lives, with our well being, with our work. We can teach our kids to rest.

Pascal, “All of our miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone (with God).”

People’s insecurities are seen when they can’t just be. Can’t just sit quietly in a room with others, strangers, and be comfortable. Have to appear to be doing something, to have significance, to be distracted. What if you just sat there in the awkward silence and remind yourself that you can be at rest because of Jesus, you don’t have to put on airs for others because you are accepted by God, you don't have to busy yourselves non stop.

Can you rest in who you are and who God has made you to be?

Jesus is the Lord of rest. You will not find it except through him. You have to take his yoke upon you. Detach it from the world. Can't have both. One of the reasons we get dragged all over the place is because we are not really connected to Jesus.

His rest is free to all but it is conditional. You cannot experience it unless you take his yoke upon you. A yoke is a bar or frame of wood by which two draft animals are joined at the head or neck in order to work together effectively in pulling a plow or wagon. To yoke together ox they have to be free of a yoke with another. We can't be yoked with the world and Jesus. You have to push that aside.

Sometimes Jesus may seem harsh. You see his commands, the need to rest, the need to obey him in everything, but you also discover how good it is. He is gentle, lowly in heart, and he gives us rest.