Motivational Monday-Finding Rest
Do you have doubts and question regarding Who Jesus is? You’re not alone. Even Jesus’ own cousin, John, had questions – and he was the prophet who announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand and had baptized hundreds of people who wished to repent of sin. Jesus even came to him to be baptized as an example and John saw the heavens open and a dove descend on Jesus as a voice said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Not long after, we find bold, tell-it-like-it-is John, the forerunner of the Messiah, languishing in a damp, cold, dingy dungeon and perhaps falling into a depressive state. I can imagine him questioning, "Is Jesus really the prophesied Messiah? If Jesus is really the Messiah, why does He leave me, his forerunner, in prison? "
He may have been thinking about all the events surrounding his life up to this point. He was prophesized to be born to Zachariah and Elizabeth in a miraculous way and to be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. His father had prophesized regarding him when he was just eight days old, at his circumcision service:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel:
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David;
According as He had spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies,
And from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant;
The oath which He swore unto our father Abraham,
That He would grant unto us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him,
All the days of our life.
And, you, child, shall be call the prophet of the Highest:
For you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God;
Whereby the Dayspring from on high has visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
John spent most of his life, secluded from city life and influences, in the mountains and hills surrounding Judea. Faithful to his calling, he bore a powerful witness of the coming Messiah, the Light of the world. His testimony regarding his own God-appointed mission was, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah… I baptize with water, but there stands One among you, whom you know not; He it is, Who coming after me is preferred before me, Whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” He loved his people, the Jews, who did not love him back, yet he stood as a powerful reformer and called sin by its right name, without mincing any words. His message was of a merciful God willing to forgive, heal, and accept all those who believed and confessed their sins. He cried, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
When the time was fulfilled for Jesus, the Messiah, to be revealed, John exclaimed, pointing to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, ‘after me comes a Man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.’”
It was through the Holy Spirit that he knew Jesus was the Messiah, even though he had never met Him. He recalls the scene, “I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, ‘Upon Whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the Same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’ And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
As Jesus began His ministry, John remembers his own disciples leaving him and following after Jesus. Some of his other disciples became jealous, but he answered, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” His role was to prepare the way and to make manifest that Jesus is “The Way.”
But his ministry was abruptly cut short. At the instigation of Herodias, Herod had him thrown into prison, for reproving him of his sin in taking Herodias, his brother’s wife, for he had said, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Now in prison, perhaps John considers the outward evidence of Jesus really being the long-awaited Messiah; Jesus doesn’t look or act like what he had in mind for the Messiah. In fact, Jesus’ ministry was all-together different from what he and all Israel had expected Messiah to be. I can imagine John in a most miserable mental and physical state in prison, and he must know so he can put his mind to rest. He sends a message to Jesus by two of his disciples, “Are you the Messiah prophesied to come, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus had John’s disciples spend the day with Him. And what an incredible day that must have been. At the end of the day, Jesus called John’s disciples to Him saying, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen; the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” And then He adds for the sake of John and others who can’t see past their current circumstances, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”
It was enough for John, He accepted the evidence and understood more clearly how Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic prophecies. And perhaps he also caught a glimpse of how Jesus was setting up a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly kingdom.
After John’s disciples left, Jesus commends John for his faithful ministry and laments the hardness of men’s hearts to accept the work of reform that God desires of His people. Jesus proclaims how much God desires for us to come to Him and be saved from our sins. It is in this context that Jesus pleads with mankind,
"Come unto Me,
All you that labor and are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you,
And learn of Me;
For I am meek and lowly in heart:
And you shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy,
And My burden is light."
In these words, Christ is speaking to every human being. Whether we know it or not, we are all weary and heavy-laden. We are all weighed down with burdens that only Christ can remove. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Like Adam and Eve, we find ourselves naked; without the glory of God (See Genesis 3:7-24). The heaviest burden to bear is the burden of sin. It would crush us if it weren’t for Jesus (see Isaiah 53:4-7). Jesus, sweet, tender Jesus, wants to take away our burden of sin. He wants to take away all our guilt, shame, and ugliness. In exchange, just as God clothed Adam and Eve, He wants to cover us with the Lamb of God, Christ’s robe of righteousness, and give us all the good gifts of Heaven; love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (See Genesis 3:21; Galatians 5:22-23).
Jesus has borne the burden of our guilt. He will take the load from our weary shoulders. He will give us rest. The burden of care and sorrow also He will bear because He loves and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Jesus has been touched with the feelings of our infirmities; He was tempted as we are tempted, only He gained the victory where we fell. Therefore, we can come boldly to Him, confess our sins and obtain mercy and grace in time of need for “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He will give us victory over our besetting sins and defects of character. Then, He Who is faithful, has promised to put in us His heart and His Spirit that longs for the things of God and a desire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ (See Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 1:9, Ezekiel 36:25-29).
“Are you tempted? He will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. Are you wounded? He will heal.” “He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.”
“The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. Whatever comes to him comes from the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Nothing can touch him except by the Lord’s permission. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us.”
Jesus had no advantage over us. The relationship He had with His Father while on this earth is available to us. Therefore, in the beautiful quote above we can insert our own name for this is a promise of how God wants to connect Himself with us. Yes, we will have trials and tribulations; but we need not fear for “greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.”
“Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. You will be braced with endurance and the way will open for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger you will become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden Bearer.”
Jesus will support, maintain, uphold, and cheer. His Hand is stretched out to you. Take hold of His strength and trust Him, today!
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References:  Matthew 4:17  Referred to as John the Baptist in Matthew 14 Luke 1:68-79, Isa 9:2  John 1:23, 26-27  Matthew 3:2  John 1:29-31  John 1:32-34  John 3:30  Matthew 14:3-4  Matthew 11:3  Matthew 11:4-6  Matthew 11:28-30  Romans 3:23  White, E. G. Ministry of Healing, p. 71 Psalm 147:3  White, E. G. Ministry of Healing, p. 488  1 John 4:4  White, E. G. Ministry of Healing, p. 71