Summary: Jesus Offers Real Rest 1) To hardworking disciples; 2) To clueless crowds
A favorite topic of conversation at this time of year is vacation plans. I think I can tell you what most of my friends from the gym are doing for their summer holidays. One is going to Hawaii. Another ran a mountain race over the Crow’s Nest Pass. Another drove twenty plus hours to the B.C. coast with his family and then boarded a ferry for six-hours to stay in some ghost town for a week. And then there’s the teacher who’s sticking around to landscape his yard. Which of those vacation plans offers the best rest? That depends. The guy who likes to run long-distance races would probably go nuts sitting on a beach. And the one who thought it would be really relaxing to stay in a ghost town on the B.C. coast is planning to take a float plane there next time. He came back pretty frazzled from all the driving he did with kids in tow. And sticking around to landscape your yard? I’m sorry. That wouldn’t be restful for me!
Do your vacation plans offer real rest? They will if you take Jesus with you. Our sermon text today describes how Jesus offers real rest. He does so whether you like running up mountains or hanging out on a beach. Jesus offers real rest to both hardworking disciples and to clueless crowds. Let’s find out how lest we miss out on this blessing.
Our text begins with the disciples returning from the mini-missionary tour on which Jesus sent them. They were pumped from the experience. They had driven out demons and healed people. They had called sinners to repentance. Like kindergarteners who must show off every nook and cranny of their classroom when Mom and Dad come to visit for parent-teacher night, the disciples eagerly told Jesus everything they did and taught while they were out and about on his business (Mark 6:30). But because so many other people were stopping in to see Jesus, the disciples weren’t really able to hold their master’s attention. There were so many coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat (Mark 6:31).
I would not have been surprised if Mark would have reported that Jesus told his disciples to come back and tell him about their experiences after the crowds had gone away. Isn’t that what we parents usually tell our children when we’re busy trying to get supper on the table? We tell them to go downstairs or outside – no matter they want to tell us something important. It will have to wait. Contrast our attitude with Jesus’ approach. He said to his disciples: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b).
Jesus knew what his disciples needed after their busy missionary activity: rest. But he made it clear that they wouldn’t enjoy real rest unless they spent time with him. Those are words I need to hear as I think about my summer vacation plans. It’s easy for me to think that because I’ve been busy with weekly sermon and Bible study prep, and lately have been planning for worship and Sunday School that I’m just going to leave my Bible at home and take a break from all this “pastor” stuff when I go on holidays. Perhaps you’ve felt that way too as a Sunday School teacher or a Council member. But Jesus wants us to remember that hardworking disciples enjoy real rest only when they spend quiet time with him.
Why is that? Well look at what the disciples did with Jesus. They eagerly told him everything they had done and said on their missionary tours. If you’re not spending quiet time with Jesus, you can hardly pour out your heart to him in prayer like that. And if you’re not pouring out your heart to him, then you’re having lug around all of your cares and concerns. That doesn’t sound very restful to me. Jesus offers real rest to hardworking disciples when he invites us to give him all of our burdens to carry.
But now when Mark says that the disciples told Jesus all they did and said, did he really mean everything – sharing with Jesus even their doubts and fears…and sins? Why not? Nothing they had to say would have shocked Jesus. As the Son of God he already knew what they had done. This is another way in which Jesus offers real rest: we can be ourselves around him. We don’t have to pretend that everything is OK with our marriage. We don’t need to make up lame excuses for our poor behavior at last night’s party. Jesus sees through those excuses anyway. Instead tell Jesus everything because he will offer real rest when he says to you with a smile: “I have taken away your sins when I paid for them on the cross.” That truth brings a greater, and more lasting joy than finding out that the stranger in the drive through ahead of you has paid for your meal!