Rest, Peace and Joy
Edward Robinson, Exmouth
These words remind us of the Lord Jesus Himself, and are typical of His own ministry. They are simple, easily understandable even to a child, yet with a depth too profound either to be fully apprehended or to be experienced in their deepest measure. As with all the sayings of the Master, their significance lies always beneath the surface, necessitating further and yet further consideration.
Entrance into the practical enjoyment of these things does not depend on intellectual attainment nor on spiritual intelligence. Rather, it is a matter of personal communion with the Lord Jesus; a nearness to Him with child-like trust and complete confidence. How well worth-while is the cultivation of this attachment day by day, deepening almost unconsciously into the realization of Paul's prayerful desire, "that I may know him", Phil. 3. 10. All this is indeed open to the youngest believer and yet, on the other hand, sadly it may be an almost unknown experience to many an old and more mature Christian. Let the prayer and earnest desire of each of us be that the Holy Spirit may kindle and awaken such longings, for only as there is such true desire can the enjoyment of these things in heart and mind be entered into. Let us look into the words of the Lord Jesus Himself on these matters.
Rest. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls", Matt. 11. 28-29. Although this is often used in the preaching of the gospel to the unconverted, yet how greatly it is continually needed in the daily life of the Christian. He (or she) is not immune from the increasing stresses of the times; he is, indeed, likely to be more sensitive and therefore feels acutely the prevailing conditions in his spirit. But great comfort can be found in the Scriptures—God Himself speaking directly to us through His Word. However, the Lord did not say, "Go to the Scriptures", but "Come unto me". There lies all the difference in the world, and the question immediately arises, "On what terms are we with Him?". Surely there should be reverence toward Him (there was to be a distance of two thousand cubits between the ark and the people, Josh. 3. 4), and at the same time close and intimate relations between Himself and His loved ones. Whatever the burden, whether occasioned by grief on account of some loved one, or even by a sense of guilt because of some sin hitherto unconfessed, open your heart to Him. As you turn to Him with purpose He will give you rest—and you will find rest such as you may never have experienced before.
Peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you", John 14. 27. The Lord was about to leave His disciples, and would bequeath a parting blessing—peace as a settled matter. Living in a scene marked by turmoil and strife, this was indeed an inward blessing of inestimable worth. But then the Lord moves from the general to the special, namely, to "my" peace. The pathway of Jesus here on earth had a quality of peaceful and undisturbed serenity which was entirely unique, manifested in the face of the most murderous and malevolent hatred ever to have been known. This, then, is the proposal of His love—He is ready to impart to us that kind of peace which marked Him in Manhood in unbroken communion with His Father. In what measure are we in the gain of such a peace in the midst of the vicissitudes of our daily path?
Joy. "That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves", John 17. 13. Thus the Lord made request of His Father in this wonderful prayer. There are many and varied joys in the Christian life for which we thank God. But here is a joy deeper than that lying normally within the scope of ordinary men—the Lord speaks of "my" joy. If He could experience sorrow far beyond that of mortal men, so correspondingly His joy far transcended theirs. The burden of His prayer was that this character of joy might find fulfilment in those for whom He made request. Of Him we read, "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit", Luke 10. 21. What occasioned His rejoicing was that the Father had revealed to babes what was concealed from the wise and prudent. How true it is that simplicity of character goes along with true nobility.
Rest, peace and joy—these are found only in a Person, and the abiding result of nearness to Him is the deepest satisfaction. At the end of the second book of Psalms, David reached a region of satisfied desire, and ended with these words, "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended", Psa. 72.20. May we also know what it means to go in to sit before the Lord, not only to ask in prayer but also to enjoy His presence. The hymn writer invites us to sing:
Where the saints in glory thronging, Where they feed on life's blest Tree—
There is stilled each earnest longing, Satisfied our souls shall be.
Safety—where no foe approaches;
Rest—where toil shall be no more; Joy—whereon no grief encroaches;
Peace—where strife shall all be o'er.
Let us not then defer the enjoyment of these things to which He so graciously invites us until we are eternally with the Lord, but rather enter into them now as we await that coming day.