“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 6:31, ESV
Our Savior would never drive us to do things with a whip. He is not a taskmaster, and he will not insist or impose his will over us. Nothing about him is brutal or demanding. (He could, really– if he wanted to.) But no, we learn how to serve him from our loving hearts. It is interesting that it was Jesus that was very careful, and aware of his disciples needs. No one suggested a break from the work, but Jesus initiated the break from the massive press of the crowds. He knew intensely what his disciples needed.
“Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.”
Mark 6:31, NCV
The presence of so many people had put the disciples in a very hard place. The NCV describes the crowds, as “coming and going.” If you have ever been on the London Underground you will understand just the sheer number. Everyday, 2.93 million people ride the trains. I remember travelling from the backwoods of Alaska, with just a backpack, and hitting the crowds on “the tube” in London, UK.
The intense masses were way beyond anything I ever imagined. Talk about a “culture shock! I saw more people in just 3 minutes than in an entire year of living in Alaska. It was like an amazing giant ant-hill; I would stop, and just stare. Nothing prepared me for this. But I knew His presence was with me.
Jesus is more concerned about the living freshness of his disciples. He shuts things down in order to rest with his followers. Often the tendency will be the opposite, especially when the leader is weak and immature. “Work harder, and even more hours!” Jesus did not have the need to be available 24/7. And he certainly didn’t expect his disciples to. His heart is committed to his followers.
He “orders” his disciples, come apart and let’s rest!
“But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31, CEV
I don’t know if you can grasp the sensitivity, or see the nuances of Jesus shepherding his disciples. He has a deep awareness of them; he doesn’t get lost by people pressing in from every side. He loves the world of men and women, but his followers are his “specialty.” He tunes in on their frequency, and knows our spiritual capacity.
What gives his followers strength, is to be close with Jesus, and to separate from the needs that were densely surrounding them. We can be flattered by being needed, but that can be very corrosive or destructive. I’m guessing but I believe that a few of the disciples may have been annoyed by this break in the action. They found it hard to remove themselves from the action. Some may have been frustrated, perhaps maybe even slightly irritated by “Jesus’ retreat.”
When you are pouring out, you will find there is only a certain capacity before you run dry. You may think this is “noble and praiseworthy” but it is nothing of the sort. It is a form of arrogance and pride. In order to really mature as a believer, we must shake this off and not to entertain our seeming indispensability to the cause.
We must keep on following Jesus into the quiet places.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28, MSG