Summary: Jesus invites His close followers to come away with Him to a quiet place, to fellowship with Him and the Father.
It’s good to be back home with the household of God, my St. Thomas family. Last week, I attended the Forward in Faith Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri, along with Bishop and my mom. We had quite an adventure coming home. Our flight from St. Louis to Philadelphia was cancelled. Then our rebooked flight from St. Louis to Charlotte was delayed nearly two hours, leaving us a scant 15 minutes to make our connection in Charlotte to Salisbury. Fortunately (unfortunately), the Salisbury flight was also delayed about two hours. Throughout this ordeal, my thoughts dwelt on the impending Tuesday morning deadline at work, which would have me spending all night in the office. Originally scheduled to arrive home around 5:30pm, we got into Salisbury about 11:40pm. Tired and fuzzyheaded in the way that only air travel can do, I dragged into the office at 7:15am to begin the marathon session. Back in my college days, while all-nighters did make me tired, still I could bounce back fairly quickly in one or two days. Not so any longer, especially when additional deadlines, responsibilities, and events deny the rest that I so long for, so need, so deserve.
The Disciples were in the same boat. Well, they were literally in a boat and I was in a plane, but you get the picture. They had gone out two-by-two, as Jesus had sent them. “They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them” (Mk. 6:12-13). The twelve had gone to all the towns and villages: they had stayed up late, gotten up early, preached till their throats were hoarse, anointed the sick till it seemed they’d never wash the oil off their hands. They were worn out from good, hard work.
Jesus saw that they were tired, He knew that they were hungry, and so He offered them an invitation: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mk. 6:31). Jesus invited the apostles to a quiet place; he invited them to be alone—alone with Jesus, what a special place.
Being alone, solitude, is part of who Jesus is, and part of what He modeled for the Apostles. Jesus taught His disciples, those committed to Him, when they were alone. “When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He said to them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you’” (Mk. 4:10). Again, “He did not say anything to them [i.e., the crowds] without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything” (Mk. 4:34). Jesus waited till the private moments for the clearest teaching.
Jesus’ true nature is revealed to those who are alone with Him. Most gloriously, “After six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them” (Mk. 9:2). The crowds and the followers were not prepared for this revelation, not even all of the Twelve, only Peter, James, and John. And even they struggled and stumbled in the face of Jesus’ glory.
Jesus went out to lonely places for prayer; He delved into secrets of the kingdom only when alone with His disciples; and His glory was revealed only alone with His very closest followers. By calling them out to the quiet, Jesus was inviting them not simply to get away from the crowds and get some victuals, but to join Him in fellowship with the Father. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mk. 1:35). It is in unencumbered communion with Christ, apart from the world, that we can hear His teaching most clearly; it is alone with Him that we find “food to eat that [the world] know[s] nothing about” (Jn. 4:32); it is only in absolute intimacy with Him and union to Him that the blinding radiance of His glory is seen.
Being alone, coming to the quiet place, is the consecration of time, of my time. It is not about shunning fellowship of man; Jesus variously took all or part of His disciples when He was alone; but sometimes it was just Him and His Father. What a remarkable invitation, “Come to a quiet place.”
Those who dwell in the world are terrified of being alone. We live not simply in a world full of noise, but one where people intentionally introduce and multiply noise. According to Nielsen, the authority on such matters, the average American now watches 4-1/2 hours of television, movies, and Internet video each day, that is 32 hours per week. I see enough television to know that it’s mostly noise. Internet, radio, even the venerable newspapers, are hardly better than television, and are oftentimes worse.