Are we taking any ‘TIME’ to REST, RELAX & REJUVENATE?
October 18 Bible Reading: Mark Chapters 4-6
“Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” (Mark 6:30-32)
This incident described in the above passage took place at the beginning of the third year of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. The twelve apostles had just returned to Capernaum from their first preaching missionary tour in which they had travelled to different places in teams of two (see vv. 7–13; Luke 9:1-6). After a successful ministry, they all came to Jesus and described their experience in great detail, about which Luke wrote: "And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done" (Luke 9:10). It is very likely that the disciples had both performed healing miracles and had taught the people about the bare facts of the kingdom of God as they had worked tirelessly to obey the command of their Master.
As Jesus quietly heard the reports from all His apostles, He was naturally glad that they were able to grasp the significance of God’s Kingdom, and were able to communicate to others. However, Jesus also recognized that His disciples were tired and weary perhaps from all their travel and work. Jesus is not a hard taskmaster, but a gentle Master who recognized the need for His disciples to rest, relax and rejuvenate. Recognizing their need for rest and quietness, Jesus took them by boat to a secluded area on the shore of the Sea of Galilee for some rest and relaxation: “Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida” (Luke 9:10).
In doing so, Jesus has modeled a principle that many of us today could stand to practice more – “the principle of rest”! This is not an endorsement for us to justify luxurious vacations when we hardly do anything for the kingdom of God. In his book ‘An exposition of the Gospel of Mark’, William Kelly has written the following about this subject: "It would be well for us if we needed thus to rest more; that is to say, if our labors were so abundant, our self-denying efforts for the blessing of others were so continual, that we could be sure that this was the Lord’s word for us."
Bible scholars have provided some other reasons why Jesus wanted to rest His disciples at that time. Due to the murder of John the Baptist, Jesus may have been trying to avoid any similar mishaps to Himself since His time had not come to depart the world (Matt. 10:23). Jesus may have withdrawn with His disciples from the crowds in order to rest, to avoid the hostility of the Jewish religious leaders and the jealousy of Herod, and to teach them in solitude. He may have wanted His disciples to decompress and share their feelings of hurt with Himself alone. Moreover, Jesus may have wanted privacy for undisturbed reflection to launch His ministry in other places, as well as instruct His disciples as part of their preparation for their future ministry (see 4:34; 9:2, 28; 13:3; John 13:1; 16:29).
Let us understand that spending quiet time with God can bring us quiet rest and restoration in our lives. God wants us to adopt His values, not the values of our culture that demands work and productivity. God Himself rested (see Gen. 2:2), which indicates that rest is good in and of itself. In fact, God actually commanded His people Israel to rest (Ex. 20:8–11). As God’s servants, we become weary sometimes just like Jesus became weary from His journey (see John 4:6). We are pulled in our busy schedules into different directions, and need rest in order to rejuvenate our body and soul for a more fruitful service to others. Jesus advised it to His disciples, and these days we need it more than ever!