What the daytime darkness of Good Friday means for your work today

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Imagine you live in Jerusalem in the first century. Like so many of your neighbors, you work as a farmer. One day, you’re out harvesting olives, when all of a sudden, the clock strikes noon and the sky goes dark. You can’t see your hand, much less the olive trees, and so you are forced to head inside and rest from your labor.

Thousands of people must have experienced something similar the day Jesus died. The darkness that accompanied Christ’s finished work on the cross undoubtedly led many people to rest from the work of their hands that first Good Friday. 

But it also led to a rest for you and me today. Not a rest from the work of our hands so much as a rest from the work of our souls—the work beneath our work that so often leads us to overwork and burnout.

Maybe the work beneath your work is performance—using your work to elicit the intoxicating praise of your peers. Anyone who has accomplished any level of professional success can attest that the applause of others never truly satisfies. It only leaves you addicted to the need for more.

The cross is the only thing that can free us from that addiction. Once we see that God’s only Son died so that you and I could be called “children of God” (1 John 3:1), we can rest from the exhausting work of using our work to impress others.

Maybe the work beneath your work isn’t performance, though. Maybe it’s fear of not having enough. Here too, Jesus’s work on the cross is the only thing that can free you. Once you grasp that God kept his promise to slay his perfect Son, you can trust that he will keep his promise to provide for all of your needs (see Matthew 6:25-34).

You and I are called to work hard with our hands (see Colossians 3:23), but not with our souls (see Matthew 11:28-30). We are called to busy ourselves with the work of the Lord while we experience what Tim Keller called “the REM of the soul.” How do you experience that REM of the soul? By dwelling on the cross.

Buddha’s last words were, “Strive unceasingly.” Jesus’s last words were, “It is finished.” The work beneath your work is finished, believer. So strive with your hands for God’s glory and the good of others. But refuse to strive with your soul today.


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