“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28
As a young man, I was steeped in the music of my era. I loved Rock and Roll. Bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, were some of my favorites. (I’ve matured and grown sophisticated since then and listen mostly to Jazz.)
And you must know that music went deep into my persona. I loved and still love music. I can’t study without it. I can’t cook without it. I can’t go to sleep without it. It is an elixir for my soul.
When I went to Bible college in the 70’s, I took my massive vinyl record collection with me. Why not? I was very proud of it. But what I didn’t know is that there were a group of ministerial students that believed that the devil should have all the good music, and they went around checking to see what music preacher boys listened to and would try to get them to burn all non-Christian albums.
As it turns out, they found me and came to visit me in my dorm room. I guess they could hear the bass and drums pounding through the thin walls. There were three of them that came to save me from my worldly ways.
They said that if I played the albums backward I could hear the devil speaking. Said that The Eagles went out into the desert of California and had a High Priest in the church of Satan cast a spell on the album so that it would be a big seller. They said that John, Paul, George, and Ringo were tools of the devil. They told me that Mick Jagger was the devil.
They told me that by just having the vinyl’s in my dorm room that the demonic spirits could come out of them and enter my body.
I looked at them incredulously. Why hadn’t I heard of this before? Why hadn’t my Southern Baptist preacher father ever told me that my eternal soul was at risk by just having these records in my possession?
I’ll tell you why. Because it is stupid and my father is not a legalist.
I said to these religious ne’er-do-wells, “I listen to these records while I do my daily Bible readings.” They went apoplectic. In fact, I think one of their heads began to rotate 360 degrees and they began to make all kinds of guttural noises; the bed that I was sitting on began to levitate and I could hear dogs howling outside my window. I’m pretty sure the moon turned to blood.
I said, “You boys are welcome to stay, but I’m going to either put a Bill Gaither record on, play it backwards and see if and angel sends me a message or put a scratchy record of Peter Frampton’s live album on and study for my Old Testament survey test that is going to be given at 8:00 tomorrow morning.”
They scurried out of the room like it was on fire. I passed the test with an A, by the way.
Eugene Peterson, in his book Traveling Light, describes legalists well:
There are people who do not want us to be free. They don’t want us to be free before God, accepted just as we are by His grace. They don’t want us to be free to express our faith originally and creatively in the world. They want to control us; they want to use us for their own purposes.
Grace-killers and joy-stealers were always trying to trap Jesus in a religious sting operation to make him look foolish to the people and ensnare him legally so they could stop His ministry.
Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word Sabbath. It means “to cease, to end, to rest.”
Jesus says, “I am the Lord of rest. I am the source of the deep rest you need. I am the Sabbath.”
When you’re sleeping, what do we call the kind of clock that’s supposed to wake you up in the morning? An alarm clock! That’s not a real optimistic name. It would be nice if we called it the opportunity clock or the resurrection clock, but we don’t. The purpose of the buzz—is to wake you up. Once you’re awake, you turn it off.
Imagine if a buzzer went off, you woke up—and never turned it off. You carried that buzzing sound with you all day. You go down for breakfast, it’s still going on; you drive to work, you’re not listening to the radio, the alarm is still going on. Moment by moment, hour by hour, all day long that sound does not stop.
That would wear on you. You would want a reprieve–a rest.
There are people who live with chronic anxiety eating away at their heart and soul and it is more toxic by far than it would be to live with that annoying sound all day. It is the nagging sense that they have to do something to gain the favor of God.
They need soul rest.
You might call it the REM rest. There’s a kind of sleep where you don’t get rapid eye movement sleep. You wake up exhausted. I want you to know you could take all the vacations in the world, but if you don’t have the deep REM sleep of the soul, resting in what Jesus did on the cross, where He experienced the restlessness of separation from God so we could have the deep rest of knowing he loves us now, that our sins have been paid for, you will fidget and fight all of your life and all of eternity.
Are you weary in well-doing?
Listen to the words from the Carpenter from Nazareth:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
A man couldn’t sleep and he kept tossing and turning because the cares of this world were swirling in his brain when a voice from the darkness said, “Jim, why don’t you toss those cares up here to Me and get some sleep? No use both of us staying up all night”