Coming to the Place of Rest

Click on the linked words in the article to read the sources that were utilized.

One morning recently, I heard a pastor on television make an interesting statement regarding two specific Bible verses. In deciding to pursue the matter further by personally investigating the verses’ words online, I watched as the information that I gained expanded my understanding by building upon the foundation that the pastor’s words had laid. Now, as I lay out in writing the realizations that materialized in my understanding by means of God working through the words that were given to me, my expected hope is that the building will increase all the more; for within the process itself dwells unlimited potential for manifested growth for all. Process is important.

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Luke 9:58
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

John 19:30
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Interestingly, I learned from the televised pastor that the words lay and bowed in these two verses are translations of the same Greek word. I then heard it said that, literally, the word encapsulates the concept of rest. In researching the word for myself, I was able to read the word’s meaning, as it is so defined by a number of well-respected sources.

One of the sources, Thayer’s lexicon, notes both verses’ use of the Greek verb as being transitive. 

A transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kickwantpaintwriteeatclean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb. (Grammar Bytes)

Luke 9:58 & John 19:30 contain both the same verb (lay, bow, rest) and the same direct object:  Jesus’ head.  Head in both verses is translated from a Greek word that is defined below by Strong’s Concordance.

(a) the head, (b) met: a corner stone, uniting two walls;
head, ruler, lord

Taken together, the definitions form quite a word image relating to Jesus. Picture this:

As Jesus rested/bowed His head upon the Cross, He—the Head (ruler, Lord) of the Body (the Church)—rested in the only place where the two sides (God & mankind) could meet (in Him, via the Cross), making Him the actual physical, as well as spiritual, cornerstone, holding together the two that, without Him, would remain disconnected.

First Peter 2:4 refers to Jesus as the “living Stone” —the One who was “rejected by men, but chosen by God.” As the metaphor then continues through verse eight, Psalm 118:22 is quoted to note that Jesus is indeed no less than the cornerstone.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,
(1 Peter 2:7b)

Cornerstone in this verse is a translation of two Greek words, sometimes translated as “the very corner [stone],” that more literally means “head of the corner.” The word head here is translated as such from the same Greek word that is also translated as head in Luke 9:58 and John 19:30.

The combined imagery of these words poses a thought:  Were Jesus’ words in Luke 9:58 (“…no place to lay his head”) possibly spoken by Jesus with an intended deeper meaning that alludes to His coming Cross (His finished work upon it)? The Cross of Jesus—the place that provides mankind with everlasting rest, was not yet a reality in this world at the time when the words were spoken by Jesus, despite the fact that it has always been eternally existent in His eternal life.

The Cross that awaited Jesus upon Calvary, outside of Jerusalem, was the one and only journey destination for Jesus on earth by which He had God-given means of offering the world the everlasting rest in Him that it so desperately needs. But for that potential rest to one day be realized in this world by anyone other than Jesus, Jesus Himself first had to abide (rest, trust) in His knowledge of the Truth of God, having full expectation that the rest in Him would later manifest in others through Him.

In John 19:30, the last recorded words that Jesus spoke from the Cross before He bowed/rested His head were “It is finished.” Though it was indeed finished, the manifested outcome of Jesus’ work is still yet unfolding today, as it will continue to do into an everlasting future, as God so designed from before the beginning of time for it to do.

Each and every transformative work that is accomplished in us through Christ Jesus is realized by us in this world only as a result of the process that Jesus walked out on earth for us all. Though the laying down of Jesus’ life for the well-being of the world has always been an eternal reality, it was only finally realized in the physical realm over the period of time that was specified by God for that purpose. Likewise, we have each been given the specific times of our lives in which we too have opportunity to choose to lay down our lives in a transformation process that continually better realigns our thoughts and actions to those of Jesus.

Consider that process in light of an interesting fact about the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies that is stated at the end of the following excerpt from Cocooning, an analogical piece previously posted on this website.

Unable to transform itself, the caterpillar can only prepare to be changed by responding to a leading that was placed within it before it was ever born. So the caterpillar does what it is led to do: it sticks itself to the underneath side of a leaf or structure, where it feels secure. There it releases (sheds) its outer protective covering (its skin) to reveal a chrysalis (“cocoon”) that was already a part of it. This act of giving up its former life in order to be positioned to receive a new one is purposeful. Until the caterpillar does so, it cannot be transformed. Surprising in one way, but not in another, is the additional fact that this act only takes place with the caterpillar hanging upside down, making its head the last part of its body to be encased (given up for transformation).

The last part of a caterpillar’s body to be “given up” —surrendered to the death of its former way of living— is its head, the place where life or death decisions are made.

Now, with that fact in mind, return to John 19:30 to look again at the last two acts of Jesus on the Cross just prior to His death. Jesus “bowed His head and gave up His spirit.Together these actions complete the total surrender of Jesus of His entire physical and spiritual Being in this world to the Father’s eternal good and perfect will. The totality of the surrender, though an ending in and of itself, is seen in the greater perspective as being the necessary step forward to the world’s new beginning. In the specific time that God had ordained for that purpose, Jesus continually promoted life by moving ahead into burial to give resurrection its due place in time.

Though I doubt that any caterpillar ever dies in its orginal untransformed state simply because it somehow receives an ability to deny its God-given instinct to cocoon, people do have a free will within their thinking that allows them to make such life and death decisions for themselves. The distinguishing factor between those people who choose to experience godly transformation and those who do not is this:  their personal acceptance or rejection of the Truth that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…(John 3:16).

Personal acceptance of the Truth makes every God-given possibility with God a potentially manifested reality in Christ Jesus. The more of our God-given lives that we willingly give back (bow, lay down) to Jesus right here and now, today, the greater becomes our present manifested reality of rest in Him. Bowing our heads along with their every thought to the Lordship of Christ Jesus is the only way to move ahead into never ending new beginnings, transformed to the fullest in the One who is God’s forever ordained Head of all.

Jesus is the one and only journey destination giving unqualified rest, for He alone among men has eternal, perfect peace to give.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.”
(Psalm 95:6-7)

One thought on “Coming to the Place of Rest

  1. Thanks for this post Cathy. One of the things I continue to wrestle with is the tension between our eternal life beyond the here and now, and our present physical life. While I certainly acknowledge the reality and importance of our physical experience, I think we (me) sometimes get to thinking that stuff God reveals in scripture has to do more with the here and now than with our eternal life. For example, we often discuss Christ as the Cornerstone of the Church, which of course is right, but seems to me to limit or constrain our thoughts.

    What you wrote here about the Cross as the perfect resting conjunction and Christ’s announcement that “it is finished, complete, perfect in every way” pointed me to Philippians 1:6 (“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”) and the notion that the builders rejected HIM . . . like, “I don’t need that cornerstone – go away, can’t you see I’m busy building and don’t have time for that. I can handle this myself.”

    Perhaps seeing Christ as the Cornerstone of our new life in Him – personally – would help us consider all the ways He continues to build us and fit us for our eternal fellowship with God. Acts 20:32 seems to me to point us to that ongoing process and 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us of the important responsibility we have to one another in that process.

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