What does it mean that Jesus is our Sabbath rest?
Hebrews 4 speaks of Jesus as our Sabbath rest. Verses 9-10 in particular state, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his." How is Jesus our Sabbath rest?
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The key to understanding how Jesus is our Sabbath rest is understanding what the Sabbath means. The Hebrew word shabat was the word "rest" in the Old Testament first used in regard to God "resting" from creation on the seventh day. The Sabbath would later become part of the Law of Moses, referring to the Sabbath day, Saturday, upon which the Jewish people were to do no work.
In the New Testament, Jesus declared Himself "lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). He equated Himself with God the Father, becoming God in human form. In addition, Jesus declared, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
In Hebrews 3 and 4, the author developed the concept of Jesus as our Sabbath rest, revealing how a relationship with Christ frees humans from the works of the law and allows a person to rest in the work of Christ to forgive sin. Ultimately, those who believe in Jesus will spend eternity in a "Sabbath rest" with Him (Hebrews 4:9).
Today, many continue to live as if their salvation depends on how many good deeds they perform. Yet Christ is the only one who can provide sufficiently for the sins of people and offer eternal life. It is by His grace we receive salvation, through faith. As Ephesians 2:8-9 reveal, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Jesus serves as our Sabbath rest in the sense that He provides freedom from living under the works of the law. Instead, His sacrifice has paid the price for our salvation. We accept salvation as His free gift, entering into His rest both now as well as in eternity in His presence.
Hebrews 4 ends with words of comfort for those who enter God's Sabbath rest: "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). As a result of Christ's finished work, we can confidently come before God, receiving mercy and grace in our time of need.
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