Summary: After being sent out in teams, the disciples shared their stories with Jesus and he invited them to rest. We too are called to work hard, share ’Jesus’ stories and to rest.
“The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught” (v30).
Jesus had sent the disciples out in twos, with instructions (6:8-11). They had gone out with the message of repentance (6:12); they had anointed many sick people with oil and healed them (6:13).
It seems to me that Jesus sent out his teams and then took the time to listen to their stories; and although Mark doesn’t comment any further, they must’ve had some great stories to tell! News of preaching, news of praying, news of anointing with oil and news of healing! Good News stories: Jesus stories!
I wonder if sometimes we’re so busy with our lives, so busy with busyness, perhaps hit by problems and difficulties, that we don’t stop to share Good News stories. Do we share our stories of God at work?
As we chat over coffee, as we bump into one another on the high street, as we meet together in the presence of Jesus for worship, do we share our news? Sometimes Good News, sometimes awful and tough news; do we share those stories?
“The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.”
Jesus could see that his disciples needed food and rest (6:31). They had been working hard and we know, don’t we, that we cannot and must not keep going until we drop. If we blow up a balloon too far it will burst and make a mess on the ground! If we wash an item of clothing too often it will fade quickly.
As I was out running this morning with this Bible passage fresh in my thinking and my praying, I was aware that I cannot run and run and run without stopping. There is a limit to my running.
After about 4 miles I have to stop. Not only do I have to stop but I also need to wait 2 or 3 days before I can do it again! No wonder (6:31) Jesus said to the disciples, “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” (6:32). Do you have a solitary place where you can go? In the past I have taken one day a month to visit Furzey Gardens in the New Forrest (UK); for me, a solitary place for prayer and rest.
The disciples went out in teams and worked hard. They shared their stories amongst one another in the presence of Jesus; and they were invited by Jesus to visit a quiet place to get some rest: This is a very helpful model for our own lives and for our churches. Hard work; sharing stories; resting. Hard work; sharing stories; resting; and as we age that hard work will be less physical, but still very important indeed.
Of course, as we heard in our Bible reading, it didn’t quite work out as planned (6:33-34). A large crowd ran ahead on foot and got to the boat’s destination first. The resting time was interrupted, and Jesus had compassion on the crowds - but it is Jesus who did the teaching and the healing. We must be careful not to tell ourselves that this Bible event means that we too must break off from rest every time people and work crowd in upon us once.
What we see is that the work of Jesus goes on even when we are tired and we need food and we need rest. God never slumbers nor sleeps. We however, are built to need sleep, food, rest, quiet, and hard work! Church Ministers are sometimes very good at giving this sort of advice, and then very sloppy at applying it to ourselves. We all need hard work, time to share stories and time to rest; and when it is time for rest, God will go on working by His Spirit and through other people. Shall we pray?