Introduction: “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” Have you ever heard that?
Ever said it yourself? Sometimes it feels that way to me. When I was
in law school, students seemed to study every day. I believed that I
should not work on Sabbath. It was a wonderful, guilt-free rest. God
blessed me for it and gave me better grades than my buddies who
studied every day. But, these days rest is more elusive. I still
refrain from secular work on Sabbath, but I teach this lesson and
sometimes preach. That seems to be as much work as anything I do
during the work week. Some pastors take off Monday, but I need to
work Monday. How do we balance work and rest? Let’s jump into our
study and see what God has to say on the subject!

  1. Rest Defined

    1. What do you consider to be most restful? When you think
      of rest what comes to mind? Read Matthew 11:28-30. What
      kind of rest is Jesus offering to us? Is this spiritual
      or physical or both?

      1. When I think about rest, I think about laying down.
        This text talks about resting in a “yoke,” – which
        is a device to pull a load. How can putting on a
        load-bearing device be considered “rest?” (It
        assumes that we already have a burden (“come … all
        you who are … burdened”). Jesus is offering to
        share the effort of pulling our burden.)

      2. How, exactly, do we add Jesus as a partner in
        carrying our burdens? (The text tells us to “learn”
        from Jesus how to be gentle and humble.)

        1. What has that (being gentle and humble) have to
          do with resting?

    2. For a few years now my wife and I have been in the
      process of moving to the town where I teach. We have not
      sold our old home and we have not purchased a new home in
      the new town. My wife and I have our eyes on a very
      impressive home that is for sale. When I consider the
      cost, I think “Not much rest there!”

      1. Why would you or I buy an impressive home? (It has
        to do with not being humble.)

        1. Can you see, now, why rest is linked to
          humility? (As long as we are pushing to impress
          those around us with our things, rest is not

    3. I started out asking you whether Jesus is offering
      spiritual or physical rest. Has your opinion changed
      after further consideration of this text? (The two are
      linked. If our heart is right (we are humble) then
      physical rest is easier.)

  2. Rest Essentials

    1. Read Matthew 4:23-25. Imagine Jesus’ life. Was His life
      like that of a movie star? (Yes, crowds followed Him.)

      1. How would you feel if you had Jesus’ job? (Imagine
        what a great thing it would be to heal severe pain,
        paralysis and demon-possession. I’m sure the people
        healed were ecstatic and grateful. It was a great

    2. Read Matthew 5:1. Has Jesus turned His back on those with
      severe pain, paralysis and demon-possession? (Yes. He saw
      the crowd coming and He headed for the mountains to

      1. Was it a sin to refuse to heal these needy people?
        (Jesus lived a perfect life.)

      2. Is your job as important and compelling as Jesus’
        job? (No.)

        1. What does this teach us about our jobs and
          rest? (We think that we are indispensable. We
          think that others cannot get along without us.
          We think that we cannot rest. Jesus shows us by
          this example that sometimes we just need to sit
          down and rest – even if there are compelling
          reasons not to rest.)

          1. Is the attitude that we are indispensable
            linked to the humility question we just

    3. Read Genesis 2:2-3. John chapter 1 reveals that Jesus was
      the Creator. Even before Jesus took on human nature, He
      rested. Do you think that the God who could speak the
      universe into existence needed to rest? (I doubt it very

      1. So, why did Jesus rest? Why elevate rest to such a
        degree that the rest day would be considered holy?
        (He must have done it for us. God wanted humans to

    4. Read Mark 6:30-31. Is it wrong to be busy – so busy that
      you do not have time to eat? (The text does not say that
      being busy is wrong, it simply says that rest “in a quiet
      place” is important.)

    5. Read Exodus 23:12. How widespread is the human need for
      rest? (Assuming you have an animal which works – you need
      to give it rest. Even the least valued in the society
      (slaves and aliens) are entitled to rest.)

  3. Rest and Balance

    1. Read Luke 12:16-18. What do you think about this plan?
      (It seems like a reasonable business plan.)

      1. What is the alternative? (Let his crops rot or give
        them away.)

    2. Read Luke 12:19. Do you want to retire as soon as
      possible? What do you think about this farmer’s plan?

    3. Read Luke 12:20-21. When I was a college kid, one of my
      friends told me I should take a break from school, earn
      money and have some fun. I refused, saying that my goal
      was to be a lawyer and I needed to keep pushing on with
      my schooling. My friend responded, “What if you get run
      over by a truck?” I admitted that would be a problem for
      my plan.

      1. Isn’t Jesus’ parable a lot like my buddy who said
        “What if you get run over by a truck?” (I did not
        get run over by a truck (although I had a very close
        call), and I soon had my doctorate in law. My buddy,
        who was also not run over by a truck, never finished

        1. Does my experience show Jesus’ parable is a
          little unreasonable? Or, does Jesus have
          another point? (Jesus explains His point in
          verse 21 – don’t be selfish with God.)

        2. How was the farmer not rich towards God? How
          did this plan cheat God out of anything?

    4. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Does this suggest an answer to
      our questions about the farmer? (The farmer intended to
      have an extended rest in which he would focus only on

      1. What does the Bible say that the rich (those who
        don’t need to work) should do? (They need to “do
        good, to be rich in good deeds” and to be generous
        and share their money. This tells us that we have an
        obligation to God for both our time and our money.)

      2. What does this teach us about rest? (That rest
        should come periodically. Resting all the time is
        not God’s plan.)

  4. Retirement Rest

    1. After reading the story of the farmer, you may have some
      reluctance to retire. Is the idea of retirement
      consistent with the Bible?

    2. Read Numbers 8:23-26. What does this suggest about God’s
      view of retirement? (At least as to the Levites, God took
      them out of regular service at the age of 50.)

      1. Was that the end of work for them? (No. The Keil and
        Delitzsch Commentary distinguishes the word “work”
        from the phrase “assist their brothers.” Work meant
        labor, but this commentary argues that the Hebrew
        word (mishmeret)means oversight, rather than just
        assisting. Whether the NIV or this commentary have
        the more correct view, the 50+ crowd was not laying

      2. What does this and the farmer story teach us about
        retirement rest? (Laying down and watching
        television all day is not the goal. At some point we
        can (and should) reduce the extent of our physical
        labor, but the ideal rest is to always stay in the
        yoke with Jesus helping to advance the Kingdom of

    3. Friend, have you reached the right balance in life? Do
      you have sufficient, but not too much, rest? If not, join
      me in praying that God will aid you in moving towards
      that right balance.

  5. Next week: The Atmosphere of Praise.