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In Jesus, we find true rest

I treasure rest.

When I was at the Naval Academy, I learned the value of rest. We worked hard, so we treasured the opportunity to lie down and take a nap. We used to say that a nap was higher on our priority list than women.

The older I get, the more I treasure my naps and the opportunity to lay down at night. I also treasure my weekly rest. Most of us take the weekend to do something different, to get away or just slow down. I really look forward to my annual rests. We take time around Christmas and Easter off to spend with family. We take a couple weeks off during the summer to get way with the family and rest. Rest is important.

Rest is so important that God included it in the 10 commandments. In Exodus 20:8-10 we read “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” God set apart the Sabbath day as a day of rest.

But why? Look at Exodus 31:13-14. God says, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you.” God says that they’re to keep the Sabbath so that they may know that He makes them holy. We tend to work too much because we’ve bought into the devil’s lie that we can save ourselves by trying harder. But we can’t. Only God is holy. Only God can sanctify us and make us holy. By taking a weekly rest and annual rests the Israelites relied upon the Lord for their salvation.

Skip forward to that first Easter morning. Jesus emerges from the tomb after a three-day rest. Why was Jesus resting? To fulfill all that was written in the law and prophets. Jesus died on that cross, rested in that tomb and rose from the dead so that you too can have rest, so that you can rest from trying to make up for your sins, so that you can rest from trying to outwit the devil, so that you can rest from trying to beat death.

That’s what his resurrection means. Jesus rose triumphant over sin, death and the devil for you. His victory is your victory. In Jesus we find our true Sabbath rest and the fulfillment of Exodus 31.

Here’s what it looks like today. “Above all you shall have faith in Jesus, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that the blood of Christ makes you holy. You shall have faith in Jesus because he is holy for you.”

Celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and treasure your rest.

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.