Needful Rest

Mark 6:30-34, “And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. (31) And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. (32) And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. (33) And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. (34) And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”
Serving the Lord can be a busy, and sometimes exhausting, proposition. The disciples had been working hard – and there was plenty to do, so much so that they did not have time to stop and eat. What a special thing it is here that the Lord took note of their need to rest, and told them to privately get away to a place of refreshment.
It was not so easy to get away, though – the needy people saw them escaping! Jesus spent the day ministering to the shepherd-less sheep, even though he had planned to spend the time resting with the disciples. It appears that He took this burden on Himself while allowing the Twelve Disciples to rest, because it only speaks of Jesus’ actions until the day was “far spent” and his disciples came to him, and this is consistent with the other accounts of this passage in the other Gospels (Matthew 14, Luke 9, and John 6).
To recap, Jesus had seen the disciples’ need for rest; He planned a short retreat for all of them. When the needs of the ministry pressed down on them, Jesus took care of it while the Twelve rested and waited on Him. I love the wording of the disciples to Jesus in Mark 6:35, where they told Jesus, “…This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed….” It was as if they were saying, ‘Jesus, you told us that we were going to this desert place to rest, but you have spent the whole day working! You need to rest, too!’
Jesus was not done, though; he was about to minister to the Twelve AND the multitudes by miraculously providing food for the five thousand from five loaves and two fishes. What a spectacular thing it must have been for the disciples to see Christ work here! After dinner, Jesus sent the disciples back to the boat, where He would join them soon, after He dispersed the multitudes. He was still looking after the Disciples’ need to rest! It was as if He said to them, “You go rest; I’ll do the dishes.”
What followed, as the Twelve waited on the boat for Jesus, was a spiritually troubling experience (Mark 6:49-50). They saw Jesus walking on the water to them, but in their exhaustion and in the presence of stormy conditions, they became fearful. Instead of recognizing the Lord, they were troubled! Yet, in the midst of their turmoil, Jesus ministered to them again, this time with a private miracle (Peter walking on water), and the reminder, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” (Mark 6:50).
Here is the point – sometimes it is hard to rest in the midst of serving the Lord. There are always things that need our attention. There are frightful, spiritually difficult times mixed in with “everything else.” Yet through it all, Christ still cares for us and call for us to rest in Him. He will take care of things for awhile when we need to be in the “desert place” to rest. He will minister to us in the darkness.
Are you resting in and depending upon him, so that you can hear His encouraging words, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid”?