On Rest: Part Two

Friday, March 17, 2017

May 6, 2014
If you missed Part One, you'll want to go read it now. :) If you read it, then let's pick right back up where we left off! 


So, there they are, pleading with Jesus to send these people away. And Jesus does what He always does. He is moved by compassion for the people, the work His Father is doing, and the concern He has for these men He has gathered to disciple. It's not about rest. It's not about food. It's about the Gospel. A lot is happening here. I don't want us to miss it. Jesus responds to them with a simple sentence. I can imagine the smirk on His face and the gentle tone of His voice. In Mark 6:37, Jesus answers the disciples' pleas like this, he says, "You give them something to eat."

They answer the same way we would. The place is desolate. The crowd is massive. They came here to rest and they are probably just as tired and hungry as the people Jesus has told them to feed. They answer Him accordingly and He tells them to go see how many loaves of bread they have. I think He does this because He wants them to know exactly what is about to happen. They come back with the report, "Five, and two fish." Jesus tells the crowd to sit in groups. He looks to heaven and says a blessing and then gives the food over to the disciples who pass it around to the people. We're very familiar with all of this. We know that everyone got fed and that there were leftovers. We may have even clung to verse 42 which tells us that "they all ate and were satisfied." We know about the five loaves, the two fish, and the 5,000 men.

What I missed and what you may have missed was that the people did not go there intending to teach or feed anyone. They went away to rest at the command of Jesus. They had been working and burying the man sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. Times were tense and they were more than ready for an opportunity to recharge. What I missed all these years is that Mark 6 teaches us how to treat rest. It teaches us that it's important. It teaches us that it requires a desolate place. It teaches us that it gets interrupted. It teaches us that we need to know how to respond when interuptions come and it teaches us what can happen when we respond the way Jesus does.

They obeyed. They tried to reason their way out of one of the most famous miracles in the history of Jesus's time with them. They acquiesced and obeyed more. The crowd that had gathered was satisfied with the words of Christ and the food He gave them for their bodies. The disciples aren't done yet. We keep reading and we watch as another famous experience takes place. They get back in the boat while Jesus dismisses the crowd and stays behind to pray. The wind rises up against the men in the boat. Like so many of us, they are taking the scenic route to a lesson Jesus is trying to teach them.

It never tells us if they ever got the rest Jesus originally called them to seek. What it does do is show us what the disciples would have missed out on if they would have had their own way. If Jesus and His disciples would have sent that crowd away or hid from them or headed up onto the mountain, one of the most encouraging stories we share with one another never would have happened. The disciples would have got their rest, but those 5,000 men and whatever women and children were with them wouldn't have the testimony of the time they were taught and fed by the Messiah. The disciples would have rested and been recharged. They would have had time to pray. But, they would have missed out on an opportunity to be used by God. When Jesus calmed the wind and joined them in the boat, the chapter begins to come to its close. What follows is a sad declaration of the state of their hearts.

We can read Mark 6 and learn so many things. On my most recent read through, I've learned that:

Rest is vital. If the Son of God needed it, then we certainly need it. True rest requires peace and quiet. We have to silence the voices around us and in us and go away to a desolate place where we can be alone with God. We live in a culture that praises introversion. We are all about self-care and treating ourselves. While we can all use a lesson on what true rest is, we don't have to be taught to value rest or to seek it.

Rest is almost always interuppted. Jesus was interuppted time and time again. He couldn't ever truly get away. In Mark 6, the disciples are interuppted. We are interuppted. The phone rings, the children ask for something, the neighbor knocks on the door or calls over the back fence. Our own minds turn to other things and the rest we set out to get vanishes. Interuptions come and we've got to know how to respond. If it wasn't for Jesus, the disciples (and the 5,000 and those of us who have come after them) would have all missed out on something God was about to do.

I've got one more post to share with you in this series...Until then, would you tell me about a time your rest was interrupted as well as the good work that God allowed you to accomplish because of that interruption?



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