Our Savior Jesus, walked in a human body with human limitations. If the Son of God had to draw boundaries, then so do I. In Mark 6 we have two stories back to back that show the stress and strain placed on Jesus in the ministry. First we see him preparing to send out his disciples for some hands-on ministry training time. He gives them instructions, forms little teams, and sends them out. In the meantime, Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist is beheaded. John’s own disciples go to collect the body and bury him. (A couple of Jesus’ own disciples HAD been followers of John before Jesus started his public ministry, so this news would have come as a shock to them as well.) So the disciples come back to Jesus to report on what they did on their mini missions trip around the area and they receive the bad news of John’s death. This is what we read in Mark 6:30-32.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Have you ever been so busy that you haven’t had time to even EAT let alone talk with your family… or worse, you haven’t been able to grieve for a loss or celebrate a victory! We need times of retreat to do both, to heal and to savor life. When the pace is rapid fire, go-go-go that is a time when we need to pull in the boundary lines. It’s not always possible to slow down and take a weekend away RIGHT NOW. But you still need it, soon. Put it on the calendar. Say No to some lesser obligations to carve out space for rest and retreat.
Also, don’t forget your Sabbath Rest. This is a commandment! You need one day per week to stop working and to honor God. On the Sabbath we honor God with our Rest. For most people it is Sunday- but for ministers this is a work day, so they need to take a different day for rest. This is a commandment! “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” For the 6 days of creation, the Lord worked, and on the 7th day he rested… not because he was tired. God rested to give us the example of HOW TO STOP WORKING and to honor Him. God has ordered us to rest. (I love rest! I could take a nap every day!! So why is this such a hard commandment to obey?)
So back to the passage in Mark 6. Jesus wanted his disciples to rest and retreat for a while. But when they arrived at their retreat destination, there was a crowd of several THOUSAND people waiting for Jesus. Rest would have to wait a while longer. Jesus had compassion on the multitudes of “shepherdless” people, so he stayed to teach them and then feed them with miraculous provisions. After the 5,000 were fed, we read this:
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray alone.
Jesus needed a break. And the disciples needed a break too. They needed it badly enough for Jesus to send them ahead while he dismissed the crowd. It’s like saying, “Honey, take the kids out to the car and wait for me,” when you see your children having an exhaustion fueled melt-down on the floor in the church lobby. I think Jesus knew his disciples had reached their limits. He knew where HIS limits were too, and he knew it was time to recharge the batteries with some quiet, alone time with the Father. Even the Son of God needed to pull away for a while and rest. I love that. It helps me accept and embrace my own need for rest and retreat.