By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Genesis 2:2
We must recognize that the weekly Sabbath is not the real Sabbath. It is a picture or a reminder of the real Sabbath. The true Sabbath is a rest; the Jewish Sabbath is a shadow, a picture of that rest. All the Old Testament shadows pointed to Christ. When the work of Jesus Christ was finished, the shadows were no longer needed.
Some years ago when I was serving in the military in Hawaii, I found myself engaged to a lovely girl who lived in Montana and whom I hadn't seen for three or four years. We were writing back and forth in those lonely days, and she sent me her picture. It was all I had to remind me of her, and it served moderately well for that purpose. But one wonderful day she arrived in Hawaii, and I saw her face to face. When the real thing came, there was no longer any need for the picture.
This is what happened with these Old Testament shadows, including the Sabbath. When the Lord came and His work was ended, the picture was no longer needed. The weekly Sabbath ended at the cross. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul confirms it to us. He says,
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).
The shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross. The next day was the day of resurrection, the day when the Lord Jesus came from the tomb. That was the beginning of a new day--the Lord's Day. Christians immediately began to observe the Lord's Day on the first day of the week. They ceased observing the Sabbath because it was ended by the fulfillment of its reality in the cross, and they began to observe the first day of the week.
Though this shadow-Sabbath ended at the cross, the true Sabbath, the rest of God, continues today. That Sabbath is defined for us in Hebrews 4,
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God [it is available to us now]; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
That is what the true Sabbath is: to cease from your own efforts and your own works.
Well, you say,
if I did that I would be nothing but a blob. But the implication is that you cease from your own efforts and depend on the work of Another. This is why Paul cries,
I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). This was also the secret of the life of Jesus, as we have seen. He Himself said,
It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work (John 14:10). This is the secret of the Christian who learns
it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). So the secret of true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one's own activity and to rest in dependence upon the activity of another who dwells within. That is fulfilling the Sabbath.
Lord, teach me to enter into Your true Sabbath rest by ceasing my efforts to please You and serve You in my own strength.
Jesus can do much more through us than we can ever do for Him. How do we cease from our own efforts and our own works? Have we found true Sabbath rest in Christ?