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Colossians 2:13-17 The reality of rest is found in Christ!

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Maybe it was a couch for you. Most of us can think of a couch, chair, rug, car, dishes, etc. that we were not to touch. If it is the couch for you, perhaps you remember a grandparent that kept plastic covers, blankets or towels over the couch to protect it. Or the couch was in a whole room that you were not allowed to go into whether as a child or even as an adult. The protection for the couch may have been so extreme that even if your shadow moved across the couch, there would be trouble.

Many things are protected by God. The Sabbath day is one of the things that God protects according to our Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy 5, 12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Sabbath means rest, so the Sabbath day was to be a day of rest. The Old Testament Israelites were commanded not to do any work on the seventh day of their week.

It was mandated time off, that came with consequences if not taken. The rest was for all the people and animals. Some had no trouble resting from work and were able to completely disconnect, while others spent the seventh day worrying about what was not getting done or planning how to make up for their day off. The Sabbath was about more than a physical and mental break from work though. This Sabbath day was important enough for God to protect, set aside, command, include in the Ten Commandments and model himself in Genesis 2 by resting on the seventh day from all his work of creating the heavens and the earth because it was also about spiritual rest.

In Deuteronomy 5, we also read, 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day was to be used to remember all the great work God had done for his people. It was this aspect of the Sabbath day that made it true rest; it was time spent with God our deliverer that brings rest for our soul.

God still wants the Sabbath day protected. The Sabbath day remains a command of God for us as New Testament believers. It remains in the sense that God wants us to take time to rest our bodies and minds, but most of all to take time to remember all God has done to deliver us from our sins bringing rest for our souls. God wants the Sabbath day protected because he wants to protect us. God knows what happens when we do not take time to rest, and it is ugly. And I do not mean bags under your eyes ugly, the ugly words we use when someone wakes us up from a nap or too early in the morning or even the ugly disturbing effects on our health a lack of rest brings. God knows we need rest.

God opens our eyes to the ugliness of not taking time to rest in what he has done for us. In Colossians 2, just a few verses before our New Testament reading, we read, 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Here God wakes us up to realize that when we do not take time to find rest for our soul in Christ, it means we are finding it somewhere else. The hollow, deceptive philosophies, human traditions and elemental spiritual forces all are summarized in a belief that the outward, physical things we do make us good and righteous in God’s eyes. It is the natural, worldly idea that occupies all our sinful hearts, non-Christian religions and worldviews.

There is no rest in believing our works get us into heaven because there is always more to be done, never enough, another bad thought, word or deed to correct, uncertainty because there is no scoreboard in the sky or status bar over our heads by which to check ourselves, but most of all because when we compare ourselves to God’s written law, we are failures, guilty and convicted. This is what Paul meant when he wrote in our New Testament reading from Colossians 2, 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh…

By nature, we are spiritually dead, faithless, enemies of Christ, living according to the law and our flesh twisting the law of God so that it does not strike fear, but appears to be an achievable path toward goodness and righteousness. When we do not rest in Christ, we believe these lies, deadly, eternally condemning lies.

Only Christ has the power to end the time when you were dead. After Paul wrote in Colossians 2, 13 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh,” he wrote, “God made you alive with Christ.” Christ is your rest because he is the power of life. He is not the hollow lies of the world, but the truth. Christ is the end of the law’s conviction according to Colossians 2, He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. The law that shows us our sins was nailed to the cross and the sentence carried out, so it no longer has the power to condemn us. Christ our Savior, the good and righteous sacrifice, paid for our sins. He did it, and he did it in public so there would be no doubt as to his triumph for us as we read in Colossians 2, 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The devil and demons, the spirits who tempt and accuse us, were judged at the cross. Christ’s death to sin, his resurrection, his many appearances to his followers, his ascension and rule from heaven all assure us of his triumphant work for us. So Paul went on to write, 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. The Old Testament festivals, even the Sabbath day pointed to Christ. They were a shadow that anticipated the reality, or literally in the Greek, the “body”, found in Christ. We have rest in Christ because there is no more work to be done to save us and give us eternal life. We are free in how we establish festivals, worship, symbols, hymns, prayers, etc. and we have established them in ways that highlight all Christ has done for us.

Remember the Sabbath day. When we remember all God has done for us, we find rest. Real rest is ours when we spend time in Scripture during worship, Bible study and personal devotions because the message of Scripture is Christ’s work for us. It is our protection so that we are not overtaken, confused by or lured away by empty lies and deceptions. We are surrounded in person or online, directly and indirectly by criticism for our faith in Christ alone.

We are bombarded by claims that all paths are valid or that a new truth, code or secret knowledge has been discovered in Scripture. We hear others advocate for interacting with other spirits, forces, worldviews, etc. Do not give your time and attention to them. They are either desperate for answers or fooling themselves with passionate claims of something false. Whether from ignorance or arrogance, despair or pride, they offer you no rest. Instead, you have Christ whose words we hear in our Gospel reading from Mark 2, 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, which was made to give us rest. When you find someone who is restless without Christ, take the time to listen and understand what lies they are lost in. Then, share Jesus with them. Share Jesus from the humble position that we were also dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ. The rest we have in Christ is forgiveness, righteousness and salvation. 

Most of us can think of a couch, car, dish set, etc. that we were not to touch growing up. Some of us even remember the fear of even our shadow moving across such items because there would be trouble. Remember though, the couch was meant for you not you for the couch. The same is true with the Sabbath day of rest. The Sabbath is more than a physical and mental break from work. God wants you to have spiritual rest. Jesus has finished the work to save you through his sacrifice on the cross. Remember, the reality of rest is found in Christ. Amen.

Gunnar Ledermann, Pastor Divine Peace Church

Gunnar Ledermann

I’m passionate about Rockwall’s vibrant community and actively engage with local non-profits and community organizations, including the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce, the City of Rockwall, and the Downtown Rockwall Association. My background includes a bachelor’s degree in Classical Languages and a master’s degree in divinity. Currently serving as a pastor at Divine Peace Church in Rockwall, I also enjoy spending time with my wife, Marinda, and our three children.


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