Resting in Jesus

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.
(John 13:25-28)

Reclining upon the Lord Jesus, resting between His shoulders, the beloved disciple is perfectly positioned to ask of the Master who will be the one to betray Him. Those who rest upon the Lord are privy to some of the deepest secrets of His heart. All are invited to rest. His call found in Matthew is not an exclusive one:

“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

One of my favorite Old Testament verses regarding resting depicts a loved and protected child. It is penned by Moses, who Scripture tells us God spoke to as a friend:

“Abiding, not striving or struggling, looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power … This is not new ‘tis new to me … Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy.’” -John McCarthy

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

I can just imagine John’s head resting between Jesus’ shoulders. Rest is very important to God and it is a subject which permeates much of Scripture. God Himself rested on the seventh day making it holy. He commanded man to rest, animals to rest and even the land to rest. We who live in such a frenzied hectic world should take heed of this. We put more and more on our plates filling our hours with work and more work yet getting less and less accomplished. Our dependence lies in our own weak abilities. We seem to be continually striving to drink from the empty cups of our own power ever stuffing our emotions, acceptance, money, positions, etc. into bags with gaping soul holes–always coming up unsatisfied.

It is God’s desire for us to be abiding, not striving or struggling. We are always to be looking to Jesus and His power for He is our very present Savior. He is our achieving power for service as well as our source of abundant unchanging joy.

“As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul … When the agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote: ‘But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith but by resting on the Faithful One.’” (Hudson Taylor)

Jesus clearly teaches that our strength will be found in abiding in Him! This sure truth remains–anything of eternal value is accomplished only through our abiding in Jesus:

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

What does remaining or resting look like in a life? How is this intimate relationship with Jesus achieved? Certainly, it must begin with our salvation in Christ, accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord, but it was never meant to cease at that point. Our growth–our sanctification–is to continue throughout our lives. Abiding consists of being in fellowship with God through His Word, through prayer, and through loving obedience to Him. It is God’s desire for believers to be conformed to the image of His Son. That is the path of peace which passes understanding.

Take It to Heart

Never having given Christ lordship of his heart, Judas remained open to the advances of the adversary.

“Let us watch jealously over our hearts, and beware of giving way in the beginnings of sin. Happy is he who feareth always, and walks humbly with his God. The strongest Christian is the one who feels his weakness most, and cries most frequently, ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.’” (John Ryle)