The rest that Christ spoke of in Matthew 11:28 became available for us at Pentecost. It is the peace that passes all understanding that we get when we unconditionally trust in Christ (see 1 Pet. 5:5-7 and Phil. 4:5-7). This had to wait until Pentecost because it is a part of the Spirit of Christ that was poured out. Jesus’ Spirit was not available to inhabit us while He was on earth. This is why He said that “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7). “It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Christ had to complete His mission on earth and ascend to the Father in order for it to become available. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out. This enables the risen Christ to inhabit us by His Spirit. He can now share His rest with us which He has from His own faith and trust in the Father. He said that He was meek and lowly or humble in Matthew 11:29 because this is how His humanity is empowered from His Father and brings Him rest. Our humanity is empowered by the Father through Christ when we are meek and humble towards Christ, who is the Lord of peace. We need Christ to give us rest because we are not capable of arriving at a sustained rest on our own. The law of sin, which is our human weakness, prevents this (see Rom. 7:14-8:2).
“Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps. 85:10). Christ is the only one who could fulfill the Mosaic Law and obtain its righteousness; therefore, there was no divine peace available from Christ before He completed His earthly mission. There was the righteousness of the Law if you could obtain it; but no one except Christ could fulfill it. In doing so, He connected righteousness with peace; and mercy with truth. He enabled a new consciousness of inner peace and strength for mankind if we avail ourselves of it. This is the real higher consciousness that we seek. We don’t naturally evolve into it. It comes by faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The role of Christ, when He was on earth, was not the role that was expected by most of Judaism 2,000 years ago. The area was under Roman occupation; and the hope was that the Messiah would be a king of the line of David who would restore the Davidic kingdom (Acts 1:6). A Messiah that would free them from the law of sin was not what they expected; and neither was the fulfillment of their animal sacrifices by the sacrificial crucifixion of Christ.
The law of sin is what weakens us toward sin; and it is the main cause of our individual sin actions. Christ came to strengthen us; and not to just forgive our individual sins, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Inner strength is a fruit of the Spirit, and is called temperance or self-control in the Bible.
The idea of a God-man Messiah who was to be trusted in the same way as the Father is trusted was foreign to Judaism, but this would end up being the requirement for obtaining the peace of God through the Messiah. Christ’s divinity allows us to be humble toward Him and surrender to Him; otherwise, it would be idolatry (see 1 Pet. 5:5-7 and Phil. 4:6-7). This brings us Christ’s presence, which is the most important part of Christianity because we can only have access to the Father when Christ is dwelling within us: “For in Him lives all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all authority and power” (Col. 2:9-10). Also, the graces of the Father flow into us through Christ’s Spirit, including His peace.
Practices such as yoga and eastern type meditations do not include an interaction with Christ; therefore, the only peace that they produce is an unsustained peace that comes and goes. Only Christ can bring us the divine peace that passes all understanding which keeps us rooted in Christ (John 16:33). The world can’t give us this peace (John 14:27).
The humanity of Jesus is essential in the plan of salvation because there could have been no shed blood without it; and it qualifies Him for the role of the one human mediator between the Father and us. The man Christ Jesus is our mediator, High Priest, and intercessor at the right hand of the Father in heaven. His humility and faith in the Father bring Him the graces that He can impart to us when we have His Spirit within us. With Christ in us, grace does not come to us from a distance. He not only intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father; but also intercedes within us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26).
Also, His human faith in the Father brings Him the righteousness by faith that He can share with us by His presence within us (Gal. 2:16—old KJV). Christ was the only one after Abraham who was directly eligible for righteousness by faith (Gal. 3:16); but because Christ’s Spirit can inhabit us, we can have it by our faith in Him. Our own faith directly in the Father does not bring us righteousness by faith. Jesus connects us to the Father.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where the good way is and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it”‘” (Jer. 6:16).
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