Come With Me?Get Some Rest
MARK 6:30-34 - July 21, 2002
30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, 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."
32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
+ + + + + + + +
Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
During our lives, each one of us at one time or another, have probably gotten at least one invitation or probably even more. We receive invitations to anniversary celebrations, birthday celebrations, open house celebrations, graduations, and the list goes on and on. Probably when we receive an invitation we?re flattered that someone would remember us once again to invite us to their festival, their joyous celebration. Today the Lord reminds us of His invitation that each and every day He invites us to find rest?rest for our bodies and rest for our souls. We are familiar with His invitation from Matthew. He says: ?Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.? (Matthew 11:28) And yet that invitation that is extended to us day in and day out, every day of our life, sometimes we forget about, sometimes we may even not accept because we have forgotten the Lord?s special invitation. If that is the case, then it does us well to pay special close attention, to take a deep breath and sit back and listen to the Lord as He invites us as He did to His disciples with His words ?Come with Me and get some rest?. I. He says come with me and get some rest for your bodies physically, II. come with me and get some rest for your souls spiritually.
I. Get some rest for your bodies, physically.
We?ve been looking in this gospel of Mark for the last couple of weeks. At the beginning of chapter 6 we were reminded of how Jesus went to His hometown of Capernaum. As He preached in the synagogue, the people didn?t want to listen to Him. He reminded them of how a prophet was without honor in his hometown. Still Jesus went and preached to the cities around, and He sent out His disciples two by two. In our text this morning we find that the disciples come back. We aren?t told why they came back?it could be because this was the time they were supposed to come back or it could be because of a bad situation that had arisen. From the verses before our text, we?re told about John the Baptist and Herod, who was the ruler. You may recall that Herod did not like Jesus, and because of that he didn?t like John the Baptist either. We are told how he had made a foolish oath, for he had promised to give up to half of his kingdom for a dance. When the oath was demanded, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist. And so we?re told, Herod beheaded John the Baptist. The disciples returned in sadness because their friend, the forerunner of Jesus, had been put to death. And yet, they returned!
The disciples gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. They came and they were excited and saddened at the same time?saddened at the death of John the Baptist, but certainly excited that as they had gone out and preached the word of God, it was just as Jesus said. They preached the word and some believed. But as they?d gone out it was just as Jesus said: they preached the word and they used the word and some were healed. They were in the midst of reporting back to Jesus all that they had done and taught. The kingdom of God began to flourish. People who didn?t consider Jesus very important just a short time ago were now willing to listen to the word of God. They were willing to follow what he had to say.
Our text describes it this way: Because so many people were coming and going, they did not even have a chance to eat. The crowds were gathering. Wherever Jesus was and wherever His disciples were, there the crowds gathered. We?re told they didn?t even have a chance to eat?the purpose of that is that during mealtimes Jesus and His disciples had a chance to visit. They talked about the events of the day. They talked about the plans for the next day. If they didn?t have a chance to eat then they didn?t have a chance to visit. They didn?t have a chance to relax. They found no rest. We?re told they didn?t have a chance to eat, and Jesus said to them, ?Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.? They needed to take a break from the daily rush of activity. It reminds us of the time that Jesus went off by himself. If we go back to the very beginning of the gospel of Mark in the first chapter we find that when it was very early in the morning, Jesus got up by Himself and went off to a solitary place and prayed. Even the Son of God realized that He needed rest from the day-to-day activities. What do you think? Were the disciples anxious to do that? Sure. Our text says Jesus invited them: ?come with me by yourselves to a quiet place to get some rest?, so they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Peter, being a fisherman, still had connections. They borrowed a boat, set sail and left to find their solitary place, to find some physical rest for themselves.
Jesus realized the importance for the disciples to take a break. Jesus realizes the importance for you and I to take a break. Yet we realize in our activities and in our day to day living, sometimes we just don?t set time apart to have a change of pace. We don?t give our bodies a chance to catch up. Part of it is our old sinful nature, that we?re always striving, that we don?t think we have enough time. We?re really telling God we have to keep busy all of the time because you haven?t given us enough time. Part of it is the world in which we live. The world reminds us that if we try hard enough, if we work hard enough and long enough, we?ll be successful in whatever we do. They?re right to a certain degree. Sometimes it gives us the bad attitude of thinking that if we?re not working every waking moment of every day of our lives, we?re not measuring up to the standards that the world has placed before us. The Lord wants us to remember we need time off. We need time to refresh ourselves. We need time for our physical bodies to catch up, to re-energize. After all, it was good enough for the Lord, wasn?t it? We?re told about creation. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy"(EXODUS 20:11). The Lord rested from his work. The Lord reminds us to rest from our work.
We have many modern conveniences that don?t compare at all with the Old Testament people or even the New Testament people. Certainly the Lord wanted them to rest, for they could have worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Lord reminds us to do the same. After all, when we stop to look at life, do you know what? What is the value of things in this life, except that the value that the world has placed upon it?the things that we can see, feel and touch, the things that become so important to the world around us aren?t necessarily as important to us. We are reminded that it doesn?t entirely depend upon ourselves, or our own strength or our own wisdom to make a ?niche? for ourselves in this life. As believers, we understand that the Lord is always in control. We understand that the Lord blesses us. We understand that without the Lord, you and I amount to nothing at all. The psalm writer sums it up in this way. He says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves"(PSALM 127:1,2). Isn?t that right? The Lord grants sleep to those He loves. He grants a good night of rest to us, his believers. That is what God intended for each one of us.
We look how he created the heavens and the earth. We see that in God?s scheme of things, He created seasons so that there?s a time for planting and growing and harvesting. Then there?s a time for rest that the earth may replenish itself. The Lord does that for us too. He gives us day and night. He gives us the daylight to work in, the night to replenish our physical bodies ? to rest, to sleep and slumber. This is God?s gift to us.
As the world around us strives to amass great fortunes, as they strive to make a name for themselves wherever they might be living, they sometimes lose sight of what God has in store for them. This week, flipping through the TV channels, there was a rich man and a poor lady. The poor lady said she would desire to be rich, and the rich man said, ?And what does it take?? How much money does it take to make a person rich? She didn?t know. Isn?t that the trouble with our society today? How well off do we have to be before we?re well off enough? The Lord reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. He says if we have food and clothing, we should be content with that. Truly, we can be. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon was the richest and wisest man that lived. Solomon realized it wasn?t his wealth that made any difference. It was God?s gift. "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God"(ECCLESIASTES 5:19). The Lord says to be happy. This is God?s gift. This is how He provides rest for us, not that we?re striving day after day and thinking we?re getting nowhere, not that we?re beating ourselves into the ground and thinking ?what else is there?? but to be able to sit back at the end of the day and say, ?this is God?s gift.? He has given me wealth and possessions. He has given me a family. He has given me contentment. I can enjoy all these things. I can be happy.
This is God?s gift that says, ?Come with me and get some rest.? Rest from the strenuous physical labors by providing us with rest for our bodies, but then more importantly, rest for our souls.
II. Come, get some rest for your souls, spiritually.
We have to remember as we started out, the crowds probably surrounded the disciples so they couldn?t even eat their meals, could not even visit with Jesus. They get on the boat looking for that solitary place that Jesus wants to visit with them. As they?re puttering along in the boat, not breaking any speed records, they?re not very far from shore; Jesus realizes that this is their time alone ? this short trip in their boat. In our text we?re told, ?So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving, recognized them, and ran on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them.? They weren?t going to be alone for very long were they? That solitary place they were going to was going to be a place filled with multitudes of people. So they took that short time alone in the boat to refresh themselves. We?re going to see that Jesus refreshes the people. He gives them rest for their souls.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them even though the crowd didn?t show any care or concern or compassion. They were rude in following Jesus, barging in on their private time. But Jesus was just the opposite wasn?t He? He had compassion on them. He didn?t get back in the boat with His disciples and go farther out into the lake, but instead He stayed there. We?re told why. It says, ?He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.? The rulers of the day had done no service to God?s people, but a disservice by laying on them the laws and the regulations without the gospel. They gave them no comfort for their souls, but gave them guilt and burden. Jesus had compassion on them. He was going to give them rest for their souls ? and we?re told how. He began teaching them many things. He began teaching them so many things that they stayed that day until it became towards evening when it became too late to get anything to eat. (These verses are really an introduction to the feeding of the five thousand.) Next week we?re going to look at the feeding of the five thousand according to the gospel of John. But He was so concerned about their souls that He taught the rest of that day telling them that He was the Bread of Life, telling them that their sins were forgiven. That?s the message that you and I are privileged to hear.
With believing hearts, we rejoice in the fact that the Lord does provide rest for our souls?not a new message?a message that was foretold by Isaiah the prophet?that Jesus would preach, His prophets would preach. Listen to this from Isaiah 61. "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners"(ISAIAH 61:1). That was the message that Jesus preached to these people?release from the darkness, freedom for the captives, good news for the poor in spirit. That?s the message that you and I hear. That?s the message that you and I receive when the Lord invites us, ?Come with me and get some rest.? He says get some rest for your souls.
Yes our bodies are sometimes weak and they become frail because of the arduous journey of this pilgrimage of life. The Lord reminds us our souls need never be burdened because our sins are forgiven. Peter, after Pentecost, came and told the people that they were the ones guilty for putting Jesus to death. By their sins, they nailed Him to the cross. The message is the same today. You and I, by our sins, have nailed Jesus to the cross. The crowd asked, and we wonder, what must we do to be saved? And the Lord says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord"(ACTS 3:19) He provides us with rest for our souls, he provides us with times of refreshing, that our sins are forgiven.
We live as sinners but saints that are forgiven in this world, realizing that Christ is the true rest for our souls. In the Old Testament, the Lord demanded that His people take a day off because if He didn?t, they wouldn?t do it. In the New Testament, the Lord has provided us with the fulfillment of Christ as our true Sabbath rest. We know that on this side of heaven, we?re always going to observe that Sabbath rest imperfectly. We?re always going to push ourselves to the limit without realizing the rest that we need, without sometimes taking the Lord up on His invitation when He says ?come with me and get some rest.? We look forward to that Sabbath rest that is to come, the true rest when we rest from all of our labors, when we rest from all of our cares and worries. In the book of Hebrews we?re told, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his"(HEBREWS 4:9,10). Verse 11 says to make every effort to enter that rest so that we do not fall by disobedience. Don?t let anyone take the joy of God?s rest away from you by burdening you with standards that are not God?s standards.
We look forward to getting invitations. They?re usually invitations to great celebrations and we have fun. We find ourselves relaxed. The Lord extends His invitation to us every day. He says, ?Come with me and get some rest.? Realize that our bodies are only meant to work so much and that the Lord provides rest for them. During the night when we sleep, during times of vacation, the Lord says, ?Come with me and get some rest.? And then, most blessed of all, He provides us with forgiveness of sins?rest for our souls, so that no matter how evil our thoughts have been, how wicked our words have been spoken, the Lord forgives us, and we find rest for our souls. He tells us why: PSALM 84:11 "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.? The Lord loves us. He is our Good Shepherd. He wants us to have every good thing?rest for our bodies, rest for our souls?and He invites us to come with Him and get some rest. Amen.