The holiday season is a time of year when we reflect on what the arrival of Jesus means. Jesus came for the weak, the lowly, the burned out and the oppressed. He came to give us rest. Doesn’t that sound nice? Many of us are working 60, 70, or even 80-hour weeks and could use some rest!
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Maybe you got some random gifts this Christmas, but Jesus doesn’t give random gifts. He wants to give us a particular kind of rest. We don’t need life hacks to solve our exhaustion and productivity problems. We don’t need stuff and activities to distract us from the mundane and difficult work. No. We need rest … rest from all the work we’re doing. The Word made flesh, the image of the invisible God, gives rest to the weary and burdened. And that’s the best gift we could ask for.
Our work goes beyond what we do for a paycheck. We have to work on our relationships with our spouse, kids, family, significant other, friends, and coworkers. And that is work we can’t just stop doing. That’s not the rest from work Jesus is offering us. No, what Jesus offers us is rest that transcends the work.
Most of us work hard trying to prove ourselves — to convince God, others, and ourselves that we are worthy and significant. But what’s hard is that work never seems to be done.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin once sent a text to his younger brother that said, “Don’t ever feel like you’re good enough because you never are.” When asked about it by a reporter, Baldwin replied: “I’m still dealing with it to this day, that I don’t feel like I’m good enough to myself. And I don’t want my brother to feel like that, because it’s a lonely feeling. It’s so … lonely, man.”
Many of us feel like we are getting similar messages sent to us: “Don’t ever feel like you’re good enough because you never are.” So we have to go the distance in everything we do to fight off this fear that we will never be good enough. But Jesus, at the end of his great act of redemption, said, “It is finished” on the cross.
So now we can rest. We don’t have to strive. This need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough — that work is finished. Because when Jesus became flesh to dwell among us, he conveyed two things: it’s good to be you and God is on your side. When we get that message deep down in our hearts, it changes the way we work. We no longer need to work from a place of striving, of trying to maintain the illusion of our self-sufficiency. Rather now, for the first time, we can work from a place of rest. Nothing to gain. Nothing to lose. Nothing to prove. Because we already have it all in Jesus.