The friends of Jesus are back from several weeks of fervent activity. The Messiah has sent them out on their first road trip. He has given them instructions, information, and an ample supply of the Holy Spirit. He has given them their charge, and he has also given them reason for caution as well. For sure, they have experienced much success. It must have been exhilarating for these twelve fellows to see the sick healed, the possessed set free, and the damned delivered. Without a doubt, they had also experienced more than their fair share of trials. Like their teacher, they were opposed all along the way by the world, their flesh, the devil, and many in the visible and corrupt church.
Well, here they are reunited with their leader. Mark tells us that which happens next:
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:30-31)
Jesus is interested in industry. He too is zealous to labor for the Father. He too will have his disciples be good stewards of every hour, for there is little time to waste. Yes, a divine work-ethic is something highly valued by the Son of God. He is passionate about the kingdom. He is hungry to do all the work given him to do by the Father. Jesus is driven to continually hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”
Jesus is also interested in individuals. He comes to seek and save the lost, and at this point in his life there are still millions all about him who are still in bondage to the Evil One. Consider those who need to be saved. Consider those who need to be healed. Consider those who need to be counseled and taught. The Great Physician and Great Teacher can cry every day over those who need what only he has to offer.
Jesus is also interested in sabbath fellowship. There are times when Jesus needs to be by himself with the Father. There are also times when he and his men need to be gathered together before the throne of God and about his table.
Friends who value the “Protestant Work Ethic,” let us hear the call of Jesus. He bids us to come and dine with him. Yes, the harvest time is now. Yes we are to work for the night is coming. Yes we are to make hay while the sun shines. However, the one who values industry and individuals also values us. Are we men and women of prayer? Are we men and women who gather to encourage one another around the table of God? Are we faithful workers who sabbath weekly? There is a time for everything, and sometimes there is a time to do nothing but rest, relax, commune, worship, eat, and encourage one another.
Busy brothers and sisters, why not consider two different ways we can apply this text and truth today?
First, why not look at our calendars, and for the next seven days, let us make seven thirty-minute appointments with God. Go ahead, type or write or these in — and do so in pen. Let us take these appointments as seriously as we do our staff meetings or our out-of-town business engagements. Let us work hard for God. Let us labor diligently, but then let us also rest sweetly with him. Go ahead, let’s set our appointments with the lover of our soul; I dare you.
Second, why not look at our calendars, notice the next Lord’s Day, and figure out how we can spend the entire time holidaying with him and his friends. Six days we are to work. Six days we are to be like the ant and not be sluggardly. Then, one day we get to rest, celebrate, worship, and party. Frantic, frazzled, and weary friends, this is God’s plan. This is his rotation. This is his desire. This is his will. He knows what he wants. He knows what is best for us. Listen to him right now. He is calling us, and this is what he is saying, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”