When my family lived in Sydney we had a 40 minute drive to church. One of the great things about the city is the see the change happening all around you. Every week, as we drove to church, I would look out and see the progress on the many construction sites. At first they would be a gaping hole in the ground, and then gradually, metal and concrete would rise up. Eventually, after months and years of work, the construction site would shed like scaffolding. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, a beautiful building would be revealed.
The ability to work is one of the hallmarks of who we are as human beings. God made us to work, work has been given to us as a gift. We see this all around us. Humanity can create wonderful things using skills that God has given them. God made us to work, develop, create, care, number crunch, craft, dig, labour, in many different ways.
However, I think we have a problem with work because we have a problem with rest.
Our society is often frenetic. Our smartphones mean that we can never really escape that urgent email or that call to come in for overtime. We have to work on the weekend and in the evenings to do pre work to get ready to go to work on Monday.
And all this while juggling the many plates of life. Study, church things, paid work, volunteer roles, friendships, family responsibilities. And so on.
You ask someone, ‘how are you going?’ Often the response, is “busy!” Busyness has become a virtue.
We can struggle with how put down the tools and… rest.
Rest and work is the topic that’s addressed in Mark chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3.
It’s a passage about Jesus and the Sabbath. This day of rest which God gives humanity.
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Jesus’ words here are a soothing balm. He speaks to us in our hectic lives.
He says that there is real REST to be found. There is rest in him.
Sabbath is a gift, not something to surround with pharisaic rules and regulations. It’s for our good, our well being, it’s made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Sabbath and work are both gifts from God. However, we often struggle finding a balance between work and rest. Work can encroach into our times of rest. And when we fail to rest, our work can suffer.
God knows what we’re like as human beings. And in his kindness, he gives us one day in seven especially to remind us of the rest that we have in Christ. A rest for our souls. A rest that looks forward to the eternal rest to come in the new creation.
One day in seven, a time to down tools and enjoy God.
Here’s the link to the sermon on Mark 2 from last Sunday: The Lord of the Sabbath