[An old title for a new piece]
One day in 2016, the ministry program of an internationally well-known Christian pastor aired one of his regular weekly Scripture-based messages, as usual. But on this occasion, the pastor presented his message to his congregation and viewing audience in a manner that differed from his typical style. He led them through a fairly short word-study that he himself had recently done in his personal study time at home. In so doing, the pastor emphasized the importance of both the process and the obtained results alike, letting us know that we too could repeat the process on our own and arrive at the same conclusions.
So taken was I by this particular study that I did go through the details again later, verifying the pastor’s findings for myself. Not that the pastor or his work was ever in question, but it is always good to verify such information before deciding to own it ourselves or to pass those findings on to others. So, I did. The study that is presented below is an intertwining of the pastor’s work and mine.
The pastor began his delivery of the message by referencing the two New Testament Scripture verses below: Luke 9:58 and John 19:30. As he read the verses from the large screen beside him on the stage, he emphasized an underlined word in each verse: lay in Luke 9:59 and bowed in John 19:30.
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Though lay and bowed are two distinct English words, each with its own particular meaning, in these two verses they are two different translations of the Greek word klino (G2827). (Greek is the original language of the New Testament from which our English Bibles have been translated; and (G2827) is the reference number that Strong’s Concordance has assigned to klino to simplify the research process.)
These two translations of klino illustrate the fact that no one language translates directly in a one-to-one correspondence to any other. Rather, translators understand the necessity of considering the context in which each word is being used, as well as other language factors, in determining a “best fit” translation. Considered in that light, the Luke 9:58 and John 19:30 example above makes sense. But since lay and bowed are, indeed translations of the same Greek word (klino), they must, despite their differing contextual uses, have the same basic meaning at their roots. This is where the research really gets interesting.
The short definition of klino in both Strong’s Concordance and the NAS Exhaustive Concordance is “to cause to bend.” [Both of those resources, along with Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and numerous other helpful resources, are all located on BibleHub.com, making research easier and faster for novice researchers and seasoned veterans alike.] But the complete listings of the translations of klino in those two concordances contain more than just the one definition that has been quoted above. Other equitable translations provided by those two sources include all of the short definitions that are listed below.
rest, recline, bow, incline, cause to give ground, make to yield, ending, lay one’s head, be far spent.
The word rest has been listed first, because of its seemingly natural fit into the two verses being discussed. According to the online Merrian-Webster dictionary used by the Bing search engine, the word rest means “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” It also means “be based on or grounded in, depend on.”
In being fully God, Jesus had no need to physically rest from the work He was doing. But in being fully Man, He did. He grew tired and hungry at times, just as we do. Some examples that substantiate this fact are seen in Mark 4:38, where Jesus is sleeping in the bow of a boat; and in John 4, where Jesus’ disciples have left Him sitting by a water-well, tired and hungry. In both cases, as always with Jesus, even when Jesus was physically at rest, He was still busy doing the work that His Father had given to Him to do on the earth. (More on that subject later.)
Returning then to the definitions of klino in Strong’s, the NAS concordance, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, note that each source mentioned refers to the verb’s use in Luke 9:58 and John 19:30 as being transitive in nature.
A transitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc. Second, it must have a direct object: something or someone who receives the action of the verb. (Grammar Bytes)
So not only then do Luke 9:58 and John 19:30 both contain the same action verb klino, but both verses also contain the same direct object upon which the action of that verb is directed. That direct object is Jesus’ head. Now take a look at how Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word that is translated as head in both of these verses.
(a) the head, (b) met: a cornerstone, uniting two walls;
head, ruler, lord
A remarkable comparison is made in 1 Peter 2:4-8 of Jesus being “the living Stone” —the One who was “rejected by men, but chosen by God.” But just before Peter concludes the metaphor in verse eight, he quotes Psalm 118:22.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,
(1 Peter 2:7b)
A cornerstone of a structure is a strong, essential stone that is located at the base (foundation) of a building, where two walls come together to form a corner. The compound English word cornerstone (some translations say capstone) is the translation of two back-to-back New Testament Greek words that literally mean “the very” and “corner.” The first of the two of those Greek words is the exact same word that is translated in Luke 9:58, John 19:30, and fifty-seven other New Testament verses as head or heads. Only in this one occurrence of the word in 1 Peter 2:7b is it translated to mean “the very.”
Whether or not this was intentionally done for emphasis can’t really be said. But it points to the fact that Jesus is not simply another head of “something,” as many men are the heads of many different things in each generation. Rather Jesus stands out eternally as the One and Only Head above all other heads. One day, all will bow, bending their knees, as well as their necks, before Him.
For only on the Cross, when Jesus had given His all and His work was finished, could He then return to His Father’s Home–-His place of rest. No longer a sojourner—a traveler passing through; Jesus would bow His Head and give up His Spirit, knowing that after His resurrection, He’d be “flying Home like a bird to its nest.”
We too can enter into Jesus’ eternal rest, the rest that is all wrapped up in a trusting spirit. It’s the gift we receive by faith in acceptance of our own personal salvation in Jesus. As Jesus depends fully upon His trustworthy Father, so do we depend fully upon our trustworthy Savior through our confessed faith in Him:
Jesus, the Christ, who died on the Cross to give us a place of rest in Him.
Jesus, the Cornerstone of the Church’s foundation, who holds His Father and Family together forever.
Where does this take place? The only place where all can agree to come together:
Only at the Cross’ center-point; only in the very heart of the Cross.
[Watch for the coming companion piece called “God’s Sabbath Rest.”]