Advent at the Chapel: The Gospel is Ultimate Rest


by Bethany Hilt
Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, All is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

When thinking of the topic “The Gospel is Ultimate Rest”, Silent Night kept popping up in my head. I think that some of the words of this first verse give such a relaxing feeling, words like calm, silent, mild, sleep all invoke a feeling of restfulness. The song reminds us that Jesus came so we can rest in his peace.

I like to imagine that on that holy night, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds felt pure, absolute joy and gladness, knowing that the Savior they had been waiting for – God’s own son – had come to live among them. It would be hard to feel the weight of sin on that joyous night, rejoicing over their promised Messiah. I wish it was easier to have that same joy and peace in these days, but we wake up every morning to reminders in the news of the evil sin in our world and each day having to deal with our own and others sinful struggles. It is so easy to feel completely helpless and discouraged.

But in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus 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.”

When we feel overwhelmed by sin, when we feel like we can’t possibly get everything right, Jesus tells us to come to him and he will carry our burdens. That is the only way we can possibly find rest in this earthly world. And it’s comforting to know that one day, when we’re with Jesus, every night will be calm and bright!


For Advent devotions this year, we are using Pastor Tim Keller’s themes in his new book  Hidden Christmas


Jesus is our Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28


Rest.  I love rest.  The older I get, the more I love it.  In the midst of the flurry of Spring work’s demands outside, the words of Jesus in this verse give me a calming feeling in my spirit.  After a good night’s rest, my body and mind are miraculously restored (well, maybe not totally…).


But Jesus speaks of a deeper rest if we answer His invitation and come to Him.  A rest for our souls.


Jesus has just denounced three of the cities in which most of His miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.  And then He launches into a prayer of thanksgiving to His Father that He has hidden the revelation of Himself from the “wise and learned,” but revealed Himself to the “weary and burdened,” those who are lowly of heart and willing to receive Jesus on faith.


So Jesus offers us a rest from the weariness from and burden of the guilt and sin in so many of our actions and even more so in our thoughts throughout the day.


This is also a Gospel call to the unrepentant, unconverted sinner.  Jesus purchased our rest by living a sinless, obedient life, giving His own life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sin, and was risen from the dead to life everlasting.


So Jesus is our rest.  Come to Him. All you who are weary and burdened.

~Barb Hoelle

The Paradox in Christ

“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.” Matt. 11:28-30
“A king who dies on a cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom.  Only those who understand the profound paradox of the cross can also understand the whole meaning of Jesus’ assertion:  my kingdom is not of this world.”
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

During his lifetime, Jesus was well known for using parables and paradoxes as teaching tools:

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39)
“The first shall be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31)
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5: 44)
“Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” (John 8:7)
Moreover, Jesus himself embodied paradox: the Jews anticipated a military leader and instead they got the Prince of Peace.  The Son of God became a man, born into the world as a weak and helpless baby.  The King of Kings was a servant-leader who washed the feet of his disciples.  The sinless man was known for dining with tax collectors, prostitutes, the infirm and many others on the fringes of society.
All this in mind, it seems clear that the kingdom of Christ defies and transcends conventional wisdom.  The cross was a method of execution reserved for the worst of criminals–people who the Romans wanted to display as an example and a caution to any who might happen to pass by them.
Yet, this was precisely how Christ died.  And it is his death on the cross that brings every other apparent paradox into equilibrium.  You see, we are the other side of the paradox, the polar opposite of Christ: we seek our own way; we are sinful, yet throw stones constantly; we harbor grudges against those who wrong us; we insist upon being served instead of serving.  It should have been us on the cross, but because Christ went in our place, we are brought from the polar extremes of our sinful nature into relationship with him.  Thus it is that when Christ invites us to take his yoke upon ourselves, we can trust that it will not crush us.  So we follow our Servant King, taking up our crosses daily and finding our burdens lightened and our souls at rest.
~Nate Gibson

Take Upon the Yoke

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.
Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you.

To take upon a yoke seems to war against our very impression of what it means to be able to rest. Will not a yoke weigh down and burden us immensely? A yoke implies the weight of work yet to be done. How, then, can a yoke provide any sense of rest? Even in issuing this counterintuitive call, Christ spoke with complete calm and sincerity…He knew His offer was
truth, deep truth.

Learn from me.

How could we learn from Christ but to put on the yoke He bore? His yoke, one of suffering spurred by pure communion with, and delight in, God.

For I am gentle.

We stand with that yoke upon our shoulders, kept up by the knowledge that Christ will always bear the yoke for us. His offer is not a transferral of weight to our shoulders, but an invitation
to participate in the plow, work, and harvest.

And humble in heart.

To invite another to know oneself as Christ offered Himself to His disciples took a depth of humility born only of surety of relationship.

And you will find rest for your souls.

What is this promise? Not rest for a weary eye, but rest for a soul otherwise besieged by the unblinking eye of the world. Christ’s yoke is easy, but not in the manner we anticipate. The lightness of it is a direct result of the certainty Christ had in His relationship with God. Lent is that opportunity to experience learning, gentleness, humility, and rest alongside Christ as He rests in the fullness of God’s promise for us. ~Ben Gibson

To Be Given Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

These past few months, several in our congregation have been dealing with painful, frightening medical issues that have the potential to change everything for them.  The process of evaluation, diagnosis and treatment already has changed everything, and even treatment itself can be so wearying.

The experience of a life threatening illness can feel like a personal earthquake to a patient and their family.  Nothing feels certain, much is unsteady and a moving target.  So there is desperate need for an anchor to hold on to.

Here is what we believe for them and for ourselves:

You are in God’s care, no matter what.
He is in control, not us.
He knows what being afraid feels like and tells us not to fear.
He has promised you will know His care and comfort.
He will not abandon you in your time of need.
He will let you rest.

Despite the foundations of our lives, our bodies and the earth trembling as we lay down our heads at night, we will sleep soundly.  He has promised us rest.