Recently I read a news article headline that was satire. The article was titled "Man On Cusp Of Having Fun Suddenly Remembers Every Single One Of His Responsibilities." The humorous short story depicted a man sitting down to a cookout at his brother’s home who leans back, smiles and his whole face drops as he suddenly remembers just how many things he should be doing at this very moment. His concerned wife sees his face at this moment and asked what was wrong to which he very promptly responds, “I’m having fun!” Which of course, he wasn’t.
I thought this was amusing as I read it but realizing that it’s only funny because of just how true it is caught my attention and I started digging into the idea of anxiety and rest in our society.
I found this...“The prison inside me” That is the name of a bed and breakfast of sorts. It is created out of a decommissioned prison and it’s owner is a former prosecuting attorney who regularly worked 100 hour work weeks that is until she couldn’t take it anymore.
Now for 90/night you check in and are issued a tea set, journal and yoga mat and locked into a cell. Served a banana shake for breakfast and porridge for dinner. Blue jumpsuits are even issued to patrons.
One such patron interviewed for the article said, I really shouldn’t be here as I have far too much work to catch up on, but maybe that’s the best reason to be here. I’ll enjoy it today and maybe regret it tomorrow.
What all of this amounts to is a society that has unprecedented levels of stress on our children to the point where doctors are beginning to worry about brain development, people of all ages with frequent headaches, teeth grinding, ever increasing levels of work hours per week, depression, anxiety, and all of the problems that only start from there, and all of the sins that sprout from there, as life’s temptations pick up strength.
We get absolutely lost in the responsibilities of our very demanding lives and we are so consumed in them that we have a very difficult time relaxing and enjoying all the wonderful things that were created and given to us to enjoy in our lives..
As our text picks up, Jesus is in a situation of unimaginable stress and anxiety. He has been preaching and teaching all day for the past four days in the temple in Jerusalem in front of major crowds filled with people who hated him and had the power to make him disappear. Now he is gathered with his disciples whom he has been teaching for three years to take over the responsibility of the Christian church… and soon they’re on their own. The icing on the cake? He is about to be betrayed by one of those disciples and put on trial- a sham trial- publically, convicted, beaten, and killed. All tomorrow. He knows all of this is going to happen. All tomorrow. Tomorrow.
So how is Jesus spending this night of unimaginable stress and anxiety? He is reclining at the table enjoying the Passover feast meal with his closest friends. He is focused not on himself and what he is about to endure, he is focused on you.
Tomorrow he will give his life for you but today he gives you a gift. Today he gives a gift like no other. Today he gives of himself. Today… Our Lord Jesus Christ on the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. When he had given thanks, he broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup after supper, when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, “Take and drink, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, this do as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”
Now when we approach yet another day, yet another day plagued in guilt, anxiety, grief, or pain, or any other way in which we struggle through life, we have, relief, we have hope, we have a way out. We have a Savior who calls us to cast our anxiety out of our heart and onto himself.
Just like that, everything changes. Just like that Jesus is remembered, sin is forgiven, hell is closed, heaven opened, and the gift Jesus gives as he reclines at the table the the gift of letting go and trusting him. The gift he gives to you today is quite literally the gift of relief. The gift he gives, to you, today, is quite literally, himself.