It was good to look at the bible's teaching on 'the Sabbath' last night at growth group. It's a subject that Christians can get very worked up about - whether you should work, or shop, or play sport on a Sunday - and we didn't want to upset anyone over it. But we did see something very striking.
It's seriously strong teaching in the Old Testament: death to anyone who works on the seventh day! And yet it's hardly mentioned in the New Testament. The only direct teaching we find there on the matter is that you're not to let anyone judge you over the issue; it's just a shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16). The importance of looking forward to 'rest' is fulfilled in Jesus.
What I think we failed to see is just what good news that is! From the story of creation onwards, 'rest' is what it's all been looking forward to: fulfilment, peace, an end to all our strivings. With Jesus, we have that rest! We know forgiveness, peace with God, even God as our Father. Wow! What the world strives for and longs for, by God's grace we have. As the Christmas carol says:
O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
Jesus: "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)