“. . . and I will give you rest. ” Matthew 11.28
After Jesus’ invitation that the weary and burdened should come to him, he gave them the promise of rest. Can we trust this promise? Could it be that Jesus may decide after all not to give us rest on this particular occasion? Jesus confidently makes this promise, not just as a promise to be there, looking out for us, but also because of what he went on to do: he died for us.
The rest that Jesus promises could be summed up in another place in the Gospels as living life ‘to the full’ (John 10.10). Jesus said that he came that we would have such a life. It is interesting to see that in the very next verse Jesus spoke of himself as the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. In other words, the promise of abundant life for us is linked to the laying down of Jesus’ life for us.
This is why we can be confident about this promise of rest, not because it is a promise of what Jesus will do, but because it is a declaration of what he has done. In dying for us, Jesus has opened up the way for us to enter the very presence of God, and our rest flows from being with him.
So it isn’t a matter of Jesus continuing to ponder on whether or not to give us rest; he took that decision when he died for us. Rest is ours, if only we will come to him. Take a moment to consider the implications of this truth: Jesus laid down his life to give you abundant life.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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