Familiar Passage, But Clearly Understood?
A few weeks ago I spoke at the annual Mental Health and Missions Conference. I was asked to speak on the integrated life of the care giver. In my preparation I learned that the English word for integration is sourced in the Latin integratio which means “renewal, refreshment.” I found that fascinating. My reflections led to a familiar passage in Matthew 11. Matthew 11:28-30 is an oft quoted passage, especially Eugene Peterson’s more recent swing on the text:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace….” (Mt 11:28-29 MSG)
Yet, when I read commentary on this text in various spiritual formation books, I am not sure I am any clearer on what the rest is Jesus is offering. Usually I am encouraged to take more time in silence and solitude or something along those lines. Are the spiritual practices themselves the rest? Does rest mean that the chaos of my personal life will ease? And what is it I am to learn of Jesus – simply to work smarter? Or to work less?
Interesting that Matthew 11:28-30 is but the second half of a paragraph. The section actually begins in verse 25:
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me…..'”
Obviously Jesus is very excited about something the Father is revealing. Jesus tells us that no one has known the Father except the Son who comes to make him known to us. Jesus has come to reveal the Father. Not just that the Father exists, but who he is and what he is like. By watching and listening to Jesus, we come to learn what this Father is like. He is a kind and benevolent Father. He is a fountain who never ceases flowing love, life, goodness and every sort of blessing. He has loved his Son for all eternity and is eager to have more sons and daughters to lavish his love upon.
This gives a glimpse of what Jesus is inviting us to. It is a Trinitarian reality that has been opened to us by the Son. We are being invited by the Son through the Spirit to join into this eternal communion; to open ourselves up to be lavished upon by the God of love.
Now that sounds like rest.
Rest is A Person, Not Merely a Removal of Unrestful Stuff in Life
The reality is that in this world bad stuff happens. We work hard and briers grow up where we toil. We get sick. Stress happens. We live amidst many unresolved tensions.
What Jesus is inviting us into is communion. He invites us to come to him. He is our rest. My world may be rife of unresolved tensions, yet I can still have rest because I have Jesus and he has me. Further, Jesus invites us to learn of him for during the entirety of his life Jesus live amidst tensions and pains – from the childhood genocide to oppression amongst the pharisees. Yet he walked in the rest of his Father.
Two questions to reflect upon:
1. How is the Spirit inviting you to respond and receive Jesus who is your rest?
2. As a shepherd, how are you leading others to the rest that is theirs in Jesus alone?
Bring people to Jesus and Jesus to people, for he is our rest.