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Have you had your break today? Follow Jesus and be strengthened.
“By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested” (Genesis 2:2).
As we consider the breaks we take in our lives, we can look to our God as an example and guide. We all need to have time away from our routine, refreshment to sustain us, friends to encourage us and rest to give us strength. As we follow Jesus through His days on earth, we can learn how He used His “breaks” to help Him accomplish what He came to do.
Scripture tells us very little about Jesus’ childhood. We know that He was perfect and so He would have obeyed His parents and honoured them in every way. Yet it seems as if Jesus took a break in His normal routine in the only story the Bible tells of His early life.
“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.’ And He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:46-49).
Mary’s words “Son, why have you treated us so?” indicate that, in her eyes, there was a break in His routine. Yet what appeared to Mary to be a change, was, for Jesus, the continuing fulfilment of His purpose for coming to earth, to go to the corss for our sins. His “break” was spending time in His Father’s house, listening and talking with the teachers.
Jesus enjoyed breaks with family, friends and new acquaintances. In His human nature He, too, needed time to rest and be refreshed with food and fellowship. Yet in each time of fellowship He remained true to His calling and used the opportunity before Him to teach, to encourage, to forgive.
“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with His disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’” (John 2:1-4).
“One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and took His place at the table…And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘Say it, Teacher.’” (Luke 7:36, 40).
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus….And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully.” Luke 19:1-2a, 5-6
The three years of Jesus’ public ministry are hard for us to imagine. We often say “we’re so busy,” yet as we read of the life of Christ, His mission – His task was always in His thoughts. How can we truly understand the strength and energy He needed? We follow Him as He breaks away to find rest, to pray to His Father for strength. Each time we see Him pulled back to the busy world because of His love for His disciples, His compassion for the crowds, but certainly renewed through prayer.
“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:22-25).
“Now when Jesus heard this, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:13-14).
“But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities. But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:15-16).
In His state of humility, Jesus received strength and encouragement from His Father for His mission. He took His disciples with Him, those closest friends, for support. As they heard the words of the Father from heaven, they, too, were strengthened in their belief that Jesus truly was the Son of God. When we begin to question our mission, we can turn to God for understanding and strength. We can turn to close Christian friends for support and guidance.
“And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’” (Matthew 17:1-5).
In Jesus’ final hours He knew that no other human friend, no matter how faithful he or she promised to be, could give Him the strength needed to complete His mission. His break took Him away to be completely alone with His Father and again to receive that firm confirmation that this way to the cross is the only way to redeem mankind. And there in anguish He receives compassion, understanding, power and strength from His Heavenly Father to die that we might live. There may be times in our lives when no one else understands our need for strength, our loneliness. But Jesus understands, He is faithful, He always has compassion for us.
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.’ And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:36-39).
Jesus died and rose again and now, just as He and the Father said when the world was created, His work was finished and He could rest. He could return home – mission accomplished!
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
Until we are called home we still have work to do.
“I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).
And as we follow Jesus’ example and learn from Him, we know that He will always give us that break we need – rest, restoration, renewal, redemption.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11-12).
Judy Grande,at the time of this writing, was a member of Zion LWMLC, Surrey, B.C. and was serving LWML–Canada as president.
This article is taken from Tapestry, publication of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League–Canada. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing. An order form can be found at https://lutheranwomen.ca/publications-and-forms/tapestry. The magazine is published four times a year and is available in print, large print, audio and via download.