Sunday is typically a day of rest for the church. We have several rest days, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas among them. For some these days are glorious opportunities to say no. For others, such days are demanding and we dread them. They hang over our heads like a dark cloud, demanding our time, attention and resources.
Now there’s a funny thing for something that’s supposed to be a day of rest.
Of the Sabbath, Eugene Peterson once said that it,
…establishes a weekly defence against reducing time to money or to what I can get out of it. And against leaving no time for God, beauty or anything that cannot be used or purchased.
How many people do you know for whom time is money? Time is for what you can get done? How busy is your calendar – even today?
Busy is a drug for some that never says, “enough!” More visits, more work, more meetings, more phone calls. How many things will you say yes to today, when you could have really just said no?
In Luke 4 we meet up with Jesus who has been travelling through Judea. The people were delighted to have him in their midst and wanted Him to stay. He said no. There were other towns who needed to hear the Good News. That was why He had come.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:42-43)
In doing this, He wasn’t forgetting or neglecting others, He was forgetting Himself and the praise of men for the sake of others.
Jesus had His compass set and knew what the day was for. When the crowds asked Him to stay Jesus would often say no. He was able to say no to many good things because He had already said yes to a few great and glorious things.
One of those glorious things was Sabbath rest. Yours and His. A rest He thoroughly enjoyed receiving from His Father and giving to others (Matthew 11:28).
For people who think and live with time hanging over their heads, rest is a burden. Its an imposition to all of their busyness.
Today, like every Sabbath, is a day for rest and celebration. For helping and healing others. But many of us are too busy for that.
We want to run at full speed accomplishing as much as we can because our glory and our success is at stake.
We’ll even turn our rest into a work by which we try and gain the approval of God and others.
We fill our time with lots of seemingly important things but never really have time to lay hold of the main thing. The thing right in front of us. We are like the little boy staring down at the most beautiful shell on the beach with tears in his eyes because his hands are too full of other shells to be able to pick it up.
Jesus is Lord of Sabbath (Luke 6:5), and we are joint-heirs with Him. And so Jesus taught us that,
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)
Man was not made for the day, but the day for man.
For those who believe this, the day no longer creeps upon us. No longer comes and grabs us by the throat demanding and commanding.
The day no longer looms over our heads like a cloud but, like the cool green grass, it lies under our feet. And we walk upon it gladly.
We see its rest, and since we are no longer trusting our own mighty effort, we gladly say yes. We see its joy and celebration and because we are free from condemnation, we embrace it.
We see its offer of gospel food and because we are hungry for truth and spiritual strength, we gather to eat it.
May you enjoy your Sabbaths the way Jesus enjoyed His Sabbaths. May you love the day as a friend and walk through it with a glad heart, enjoying its rest and bringing that rest to others. May you learn to say no to a multitude of otherwise good things, because you have already said yes to something better.