For the past two weeks the guys in the jail Bible study have brought up how they don’t want to go back into their cell after our time together. It’s as if the Bible study is an oasis for them to take a deep breath and receive peace, an all too quickly passing moment of rest, before having to face the other more unruly men sharing their cell with them.
This peace and rest they were feeling wasn’t exactly what the topic of discussion was for the day but I thought it worth while to follow it through for a minute. I told them, “In a sense being in here (jail) isn’t any different than being out there (the world).” Everyone needs a place to go from time to time in order to regroup, think, breathe and receive peace. The good news is, while a physical place on a map is good, God’s Word tells us He is our peace and resting place.
Throughout the Old Testament we are told how God communicated to the Children of Israel through Moses and his teaching them by way of the Tabernacle, the Ten Commandments (Sabbath rest), sacrificial system, dietary laws, etc. But the truth has always been God wants us to come to Him for real rest. The rest and peace God intends to give us is only found in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus did say, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So you see it isn’t simply a day the Jews see as the “Sabbath”, being Saturday, or to most Christians, “Sunday” that is a day of rest.
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote “No one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” So you see the “Real thing” is Christ!
In the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” The world’s version of peace is a peace that can only come when war has ended and the guns have stopped firing. Jesus’ version of peace isn’t based on this at all. His peace is a peace that we have based on His Spirit dwelling within us whether there is noise and turmoil all around us, such as these men are dealing with in the cell, or if we are in a room that is quiet and still such as our time of Bible study.
As we wrapped up our time together I prayed for them and the men in their cell. I prayed that the men would be a light to those back in the cell. I asked that God would shine through them so the others might see the peace and rest and be drawn to want the same for themselves. One thing is for sure, when you’re in jail you come to appreciate the little things in life such as the ability to find a place to simply sit still, and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Have you taken Jesus up on His offer of rest?