John 5:1-17 tells the story of a paralyzed man who had sat among a crowd of other sick or disabled people for 38 years. One day, Jesus came by and healed the man, but the Jewish leaders were upset because Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath, a day of rest. One the Sabbath, people wouldn’t do work of any kind. Verse 16 says, “…the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”
I want to ask you this—how is your soul today? Are you weary or tired? Broken? Are you worn out from laboring to make yourself right with God or to get Him to like you more? You need to know that until God does something in you, you’ll never do anything worthy for Him. You can never work yourself into God’s grace—and you don’t have to! He gives it freely. There is amazing freedom to be found in putting all of your faith and trust in who Jesus is and what He has done.
Imagine that you fall and hurt your arm. If you go to the emergency room, you might have your arm scanned by an X-ray machine. The X-ray machine is able to show you that your arm is broken, but it can’t do anything beyond that. The doctor is the one who puts on the cast that heals your arm.
The Jewish leaders knew they had a problem; God gave the law, which is the first five books of our Old Testament, to show them and us that problem. We all have sinned—we’ve all missed the mark of God’s glorious standard. But, the Jewish leaders were treating the law as though it was the medicine that would make them better if they would just follow it, when really it’s more like the X-ray machine, which just shows the problem.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)–“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The people who find rest for their souls are not the ones who work themselves to the bone trying to keep the law. It’s not the people who give up and decide to do whatever they want to do. The ones who find true rest and freedom are those who put their faith in Jesus and let Him begin changing the way they think and live. God’s grace is a free gift—what you have to do is accept it.