This year I’ve given myself to studying the Gospel according to John. It’s been an incredible, joyful, painful, rich pursuit that has only intensified as I’ve progressed through the book. Two phrases have stuck out as wildly important to me as I’ve devoured the last few chapters, one comes from John 18:1, “He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron” which I won’t talk about here, but I implore you to take a look at it sometime. The other comes from the life-altering John 19:30.
In this verse we are told about our Lord receiving the bitterness of the foul wine offered Him, the crying out of the hope-giving words, “It is finished!” and the voluntary giving up of his spirit unto death. It’s all rich, profound and significant. However, sandwiched in there between the crying out and the giving up of His spirit are a handful of words that in my personal studies I was very tempted to pass over in my haste to meet my year-end completion of the book.
In His faithfulness, even at 5 o’clock in the morning while I’m still bleary-eyed and mainlining my first cuppa, the Lord led me to look more closely at the words, “and He bowed His head.” I study the Bible under the presupposition that no set of words is there by accident, so it seemed imprudent, despite my eagerness, to skip over these words without at least a tad more investigation. My faithful study partners, John MacArthur and Matthew Henry, had nothing to say about these particular words in the commentaries available to me so I went to my third resource, the interlinear Bible. Thank God for my interlinear bible! What I found there was the Greek word klino, meaning simply “to incline, bow.”
The interesting part is I discovered that is used only seven times in the whole New Testament. Four of those times the author is using the word to describe the bowing, resting or fleeing others are doing (Luke 9:12, Luke 24:5, Luke 24:29 and Hebrews 11:34). However in Matthew 8:20 (and John 9:58) we read Jesus addressing His own bowing, or lack thereof. What He says is this, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay [klino] His head.” Now you can read that as simply word usage and coincidence, but you know my belief is that nothing is accident. So what I take it to mean is that the Lord Jesus had nowhere on this earth to finally rest His head and He didn’t. Until the cross. Until He had laid down His life for the brethren. He did not give Himself to rest until He had fulfilled the will of His Father in bloody crucifixion.
As I ask myself in my personal study, so what? What would the Lord have me to do with this information? What am I to think and how am I to live in light of knowing this?
We are to live as Peter says in 1 Peter 1:1 “residing as aliens.” We are to be those who know better than anyone else that this life is a vapor and will soon be over. We are to give everything we have toward growth in holiness and the advancement of the Kingdom while simultaneously resting in the words Christ exclaimed seconds before he bowed His head. Let us never be those who would be accused of becoming too comfortable in this world, making it our home, our joy, our identity, our all. But rather, let us be those in agreement with Charles Spurgeon when he said, “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed.” Find no rest here, saints.
Renée Bates is a Texan married for a decade to her best friend Cory, the mom of three rambunctious children, Eli the Scientist, Joss the Contemplative and Jenny the glitter-sprinkled Princess. She’s a graduate of Midwestern State University, and serves at Pantego Bible Church in the high school ministry to the Glory of Christ. You can check out more writing from Renée here.