His proposal comes out of nowhere.
Traveling through Galilee, speaking to the crowds gathered around him, Jesus touches on a series of topics that seem quite random.
- First, he chats about John the Baptist.
- Then he denounces the towns where he has performed many miracles yet the people have not believed.
- Next he says, “Thank you, Father … You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people” (Matt. 11:25 MSG).
- Then he speaks briefly of his own unique relationship with the Father.
Right then, while everyone’s still mulling the startling statement Jesus made three topics back, he takes another leap where no one would have guessed he’d go:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?” he asks.
“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. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG).
Like the crowds who first heard the proposal, you’re caught off-guard.
Deep inside, you wonder: How would I know rest if I saw it? How could I possibly do it? Especially now. Or … ever in the foreseeable future.
Something interrupts your thoughts. It’s Jesus’ silence.
After all his bouncing, topic to topic, he has suddenly, in effect, gotten down on one knee. He’s proposed, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” Then, suddenly, he has stopped talking, as if waiting for a reply.
The pause is as unexpected and disconcerting as the invitation. You don’t realize you’re holding your breath. You don’t hear yourself sigh.
It sounds so simple. It seems utterly impossible.
- You listen for a voice your ears can’t hear,
- in order to come to a person your eyes can’t see
- so he can give you something that sounds lovely but unrealistic, and you don’t have a clue how it looks.
As is often his way, Jesus doesn’t explain, to the crowds or to you, how any of the above can actually work. But in all that he’s already said, he has offered a subtle hint. For his random array of teaching topics in Matthew 11 revolve around a single subject: the mystery of divine-human relationships in the kingdom of God.
In one breathtaking sweep, Jesus alludes to:
- The mystery of one God who relates to himself in different Persons.
- Ways this unfathomable God initiates relationships with people.
- Ways people embrace or reject the relationships God offers.
- Consequences of those choices.
Later – on the eve of his crucifixion, in fact – Jesus will say more on the subject. As he prepares to die and be buried, to rise and ascend, he tells his followers:
“Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them … What I say comes from the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I’m still with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you” (John 14:23-26 GW).
To you who love me in truth, says Jesus, I have spoken. The Father, who loves you, sends. He sent me. He will send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will come. The Father and I will come. We – he – will dwell in you. He who is Spirit and Truth will teach you. He – we – will teach you everything.
It all begins as you say Yes to a Spirit-to-spirit journey.
Adapted from Return to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey, by Deborah P. Brunt. E-book to be released in 2014. © 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
Posts in A Spirit-to-Spirit Journey Series:
#1 – Burnout meets mystery
#2 – East meets West
#4 – Spirit meets spirit