Jesus came to them and said

God always meets us in the in-between. That’s where life happens, shaping the hills and the valleys. Our character is formed, our calling is reinforced, and our confidence is established in the events that connect the big defining moments together.

While reading one of my favorite, and also extremely familiar passages in Scripture, God reminded me that what we may not have memorized in Scripture is still significant, even though the words may not get posted on the bulletin board.

All Scripture is God-breathed. Every single word is meaningful, because God made sure it was there.

Life begins in God’s very Word. His very breath gives us life, meaning, purpose and direction. His Words matter.

The last God-inspired words Matthew wrote in his Gospel were also some of the last words Jesus spoke on earth before He ascended into Heaven. 

Matthew captures the moment in Chapter 28:16-20.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

While reading this passage again this past week, it was the in-between words that caught my attention.

Jesus came to them and said

The disciples had come to the place Jesus had told them to go, and He showed up. In the midst of their worship and their lingering doubts, Jesus came to them and spoke life, purpose and love.

Jesus came.
Immanuel, God with us, came. He had defeated sin, death and hell, and He came back. He drew close.

Jesus came to them.
Here were the 11 disciples, going to where Jesus had told them to go. The whirlwind they had just gone through the last 40 days was unimaginable. The arrest, crucifixion, death and burial, then resurrection of the man they had followed and given their life to was like whiplash to their souls. Maybe in this moment, they were hoping for an Elijah experience, and to hop a fiery ride up to heaven with their Risen Lord. As they knelt to worship, fear and doubt crept into the corners of some of their hearts. And yet, even in their weakness of faith, Jesus came to them. He came for them.

Jesus came to them and said.
Jesus came for them to experience His presence and His purpose. The Word of God spoke. The life-giving Savior, THE Word, opened His mouth and gave them the commission, command and confidence that only The Word could.

Jesus comes to me, and to you, too. He wants us to be close to Him, and draws us near because He loves us and wants us to know Him. He wants us to hear His voice, His call, and be changed in our response.

In that context, The Great Commission resonates even more deeply.

Because Jesus has ALL authority,
I will go:
make disciples,
baptize,
teach obedience.
And, I am sure
Jesus is with me
ALWAYS.

Jesus came to them and said.

Lord, come to us, even now, and speak.

Shoulders

Rest, even in our quarantined world, can be hard to come by.

Just recently, I have surfaced on the other side of coronavirus. My symptoms were mild compared to most, though I found myself tired constantly. My nature is to push through, and so after a week of not allowing myself to rest because I wasn’t “that sick”, it all caught up to me. Then, I had to rest because my body wouldn’t let me function otherwise.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

– Isaiah 9:6

This month, Isaiah 9:6 has been on my mind and heart. Usually, the beautiful names of Jesus are the focus of this verse — Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Oh, what a Savior we have!

Yet, what I’ve been contemplating since the early start of the Christmas season this year is that the government will rest on His shoulders.

At this juncture in history, and the chronicles of our nation, words like steady, secure, peaceful and gracious aren’t used to describe our ongoing circumstances. So many are hurting and struggling. Yet, Isaiah 9:6 declares that the government rests on His shoulders. I think we’ve forgotten that. Christmas is about trusting that Jesus came to shoulder the mess and sinfulness of our world.

I will admit that too often I allow the stressors and burdens of life and of this world to rest on my own shoulders. I want to handle it, even when I can’t. I want to make things happen, when it’s not up to me. I hold onto and bear what I wasn’t meant to carry.

Jesus came into this world to set us free and give our weary souls the rest we may not have even realized we needed.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

– Matthew 11:28

I can know this verse is true because of what Jesus carried on His shoulders as He climbed Golgotha and was raised up on the cross. He took on my sin, my shame, my burdens, my guilt. All of it rested on Him. He was the only One who could bear it. He gave His life so I could be free of it, and could finally experience the blessing of living in full trust and dependence through faith.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29

This Christmas, please know that Jesus didn’t create you or me to carry all that we’ve placed on our shoulders. He is there, right now, ready to join us, and shoulder the weight of the burdens we haven’t even spoken out loud to anyone. All that He asks is for us to come to His side, and let Him do the heavy lifting. Give Him your heart, and follow His steps.

There, beside the Savior of the World, we will find rest.