I’m in this season of life right now where I feel really fragmented. It’s rather ironic, though, looking back to where I was a year ago having just moved back to Greenville and starting to live on my own for the first time. Let’s see, what did I do: I worked full-time, did swing dancing, was involved with church stuff, and, if there was money to spare, I ate food. I didn’t have many options as a result of my limited resources. I was also in this post-college honeymoon phase of “whoa I can come home after work and do … nothing.” Which, um, was quite frankly what I typically did. No TV, no internet, living off Kashi granola, bananas and peanut butter. So this is what 20 years of school was preparing me for. Mom, Dad- I knew you’d be proud.
Now my life is overflowing and I honestly can’t say it’s in a unified fashion. Praying about that. But let’s not bore you. I do too much of that with this blog.
What am I really here to muse about? Well, when I’m feeling fragmented and busy, my mind starts to go a million miles an hour and I have to keep up, be one step ahead. And with those moments often come confusion and fear of the unknown. It quickly bogs me down.
I know you’ve been there, so I won’t elaborate. Ok, so in those moments (whether you’re overwhelmed, confused, insecure, fearful- you name it), what words of comfort from Scripture come to mind to calm the troubled mind?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
I’ve read these words in Matthew 11 somewhat recently as I’ve been progressing through the book of Matthew. for the past year. ah yes, my reading comprehension abilities are staggering. Actually I try to work slowly and typically get stuck on phrases like 9:1, “And Jesus, getting into a boat…” and I can’t go any further. Why the boat? Why at that moment? Why is Jesus always getting in boats? Why was this connecting thought even put here in this chapter? Is he speaking to me to get in a boat and spread his kingdom? Royal Caribbean? Yes, Lord, your child hears.
So I was stuck on this “Come to me and find rest” command for a while. And you know what I found? I think I’ve viewed it all wrong the entire time. Or at least had only a partial view.
Step back. Jesus was on mission, spreading his fame, telling everyone that the Law and rules they’ve been working so hard under will now be fulfilled. He thanks God for opening eyes and hearts to know him. So come and find rest in Jesus! Your weariness is over.
And here’s the good stuff– what happens next. Chapter 12: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.” At that time- what time was it?
Jesus had just declared himself as the chosen one, the answer they were waiting for, and then called on God to spiritually open their eyes and to give them rest in Jesus, to lay their burdens down on him. It was at that time that Jesus, always on mission, went through the grain fields to pick up food…on the Sabbath day.
This is Jesus. He could’ve overturned a stone and pulled out a fattened calf and had a feast with his friends. He could’ve done anything to provide food for his hungry friends with him. After all, they needed physical rest and restoration. But Jesus had a different rest to teach them about, so he took them to a field to get food, and in that culture it was a blatant breach of rules to pick up grain on the holy day. Kinda like streaking through a Baptist sanctuary. There are just some things nobody questions.
Then- this is where is gets edgy- he allows them freedom to take food from a field to eat even though there was a rule against it.
It was a cultural no-no. It was a denominational no-no. It may have even been a personal conviction no-no.
Tell me, why Jesus would do that?
He of all people should’ve been the one enforcing the rules.
So why? Cause he’s the Master of the Sabbath. He owns it.
It is not an irony that this happens right on the heels of him calling his children to “come unto me and find rest.” He’s showing them that he is more concerned about the heart of the law than about the letter of the law. “Friends, are you hungry? You can eat and be ok with God still being satisfied with you, because I’m here, and I’ve satisfied God enough for all of us.”
Do you see this? This is what Jesus was telling me: “Chill out! You can rest now. I’m here and actually the purpose of Sabbath rules were all about me in the first place. Now you are free from this rule because now in resting from this pressure it’s still all about me. You get to eat in this unconventional, radical manner and that’s good. I want to feed you because I’m good.”
So, friends, pick up the grain and eat. Those things that used to hold you away from God, enjoy. Find joy in enjoying and be at rest. Nothing has dominion over you now except the law of love.
So in those moments when you’re striving in your mind about doing or not doing something because you’re afraid you’ll lose the favor of God…chill out. Seriously. Test it against the law of love, and then live in freedom. You’re free either way.
So this “come unto me and find rest’ isn’t just about calming the soul in hard seasons of life or in the busyness of circumstances around you (though I do believe it includes that). There is a much much bigger picture though from what I gather looking at the whole context.
And the story gets better! The Pharisee’s reaction are just so typical in response to Jesus’ radical command to rest. But, I have to stop and hold you in suspense until followup thoughts later about the Pharisees because I don’t know how anyone can have grace enough to read through this entire post. Reel it in, or, as a mom-quote comes to mind, I just need to take a chill pill.
Yes, Mt. 12 illustrates the kind of “yoke” or burden he came to replace. While the O.T. did allow picking grain for oneself at the edges of a field, the Pharisees added their own “yoke” that this couldn’t be done on the sabbath, since it was work (harvesting). So Jesus contrasted his yoke, his way of love, with the rules of the Pharisees, who would have hungry people wait until after the sabbath to eat. (Mt.11:30–my yoke is easy–can also be translated as: my yoke is kindness.)
“But, I have to stop and hold you in suspense until followup thoughts later about the Pharisees because I don’t know how anyone can have grace enough to read through this entire post.”
I guess I have some measure of grace? But seriously, I’m enjoying reading your thoughts. It’s easy to digest because you write a lot like I do. There is much passion and insight here, and I think that’s just lovely, really. God bless you and keep you, Angela, and make His face to shine upon you. We all need more of that.