Have you ever stopped to wonder what it would have been like to be there when Jesus walked the face of this earth? What would it have been like to know Him, to travel from town to town with Him, to hear Him teach, and see Him heal the sick? How would it have felt to be in His inner circle of friends—to be the very ones at the foot of the cross, to dress His wounds in preparation for burial? I can only imagine.
We’re able to read about the lives of many of those who found themselves side-by-side with Jesus throughout His life and even His death. What a wild ride it must have been! What faith it must have required to trust and follow Him! What grief and sorrow must have been experienced as He took His final breath on that cross. What tears must have flowed as they laid Him in that tomb.
As I’ve studied “rest” throughout Scripture this past year, there were several passages that immediately came to mind without a second thought. The fascinating part of this journey for me, though has been uncovering the portions of Scripture that speak to this divine invitation to come rest that I would never have thought were related before. Today’s verse is one of those hidden treasures for me. Here it is in all its splendor:
“Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” Luke 23:56
The verse you just read falls into the storyline of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ body had just been placed in the tomb, and it was customary for family and friends to prepare spices and perfumes for the body to help prevent odor as the body decayed. Not only was this an urgent matter, as you can imagine, but this was for Jesus. How much more urgent could this seem for His followers? I can only imagine wanting to do this right away without delay. I can only imagine wanting to be near Him one more time. I can only imagine feeling so compelled to provide this for Him at a time when all else probably seemed hopeless. Yet, we read something so moving in Luke 23:56. Rather than doing what they probably felt they wanted to do—rushing towards the urgent, the very thing calling their name, the “to-do” list—they obeyed the command to rest on the Sabbath.
I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot imagine responding in such obedience as they did. I’m a rule-breaker, so maybe that’s why, but I imagine I would have come up with a good excuse to get those spices and perfumes to Jesus. I would have resisted rest and rushed toward what seemed urgent, but they didn’t. And this shouted something so clear to my soul.
I am repeatedly found bowing down to the urgent demands in my life, thus forfeiting the most important—time spent resting in His presence. Anybody else? For most of us, it takes only a matter of minutes into our days before “urgent” needs begin to present themselves. We may have woken up that day with every intention to start things off right with Jesus, but then the phone rings, the kid screams, the milk spills, the emails come pouring in, and before we know it, the sun has set on another day, and we have gone without Sabbath. We have sacrificed rest for the urgent.
Please hear what I am not saying. I’m not saying rest is easy. I’m not even saying that it will always seem possible. I’m saying it’s necessary, and I’m saying we have a choice. These women who loved Jesus and had followed Him for years made a decision that Sabbath morning. I’ll bet you anything that they wanted to be at the tomb, ministering to the broken body of Jesus, but instead they obeyed. Instead, they rested, and I can’t help but wonder what the produce of that rest was. Was it an even greater eagerness and anticipation to rush to the tomb the following morning? Or was it the divine message they received when they arrived at the tomb that their Jesus was no longer there, but He had risen just as He had said?
What is the “urgent” in your life right now, the things that keep you on your feet, rushing from thing to thing and off your knees? What are the demands that push their way before and in front of the invitation to find rest in Jesus? Could you, today, press pause on the “urgent” in order to know the rest that God calls you to? Could you prioritize the most important over the urgent? Rest awaits you.