Jesus had empowered the apostles, sent them out to preach what they had heard him preach, and to do the ministry that He had modeled for them to see and do. They returned and were excited about how wonderful things went, and I’m sure compared notes with one another about how things went on their first tour of duty, a truly memorable and exciting time. I’m sure Jesus was pleased about the reports, but he also pointed them toward an important issue called rest. Not only had they been busy with work, but now were back and there would be no leisure from work…just too much activity and too much to do.
The Good Shepherd knew about the necessity of resting. He set an example, confirmed many times in the Gospels, by getting away to deserted places to pray alone, mountain areas, deserts, places to spend time in Sabbath rest. As a true leader, the Good Shepherd is committed first and foremost to his apostles. After all, these are the ones along with others that will be commissioned in the future, to preach and bring the “good news” of the Kingdom of God to others. And, to do that they must take personal time for rest, relaxation, time for renewal in body, soul and spirit.
This invitation to come away to a deserted place and rest a while is not a message limited to the disciples of the First century. It is a message to all of us…yes, to each one of us. Many of you have been busy this past year with work, family and social responsibilities, unplanned added responsibilities’, plus hours of commitment of time and labor to the work of the ministry in your local church. Many of you have taken vacations or are in the process of taking some time off to go “somewhere other than your regular routines and work” and to rest awhile, to take a “needed” Sabbath rest.
I think it is important for all of us, and I’m talking to all of you, to take some time, to take a retreat, a reprieve, even to take a day, a few hours, to get away to pray. As you know when Jesus is saying, “I want you to go off by yourself and rest, what he is really saying, is “You and I need to get away, so we get rest together, so you can spend time in my presence and I will give you rest..
The Good Shepherd invites you “to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat”. (Mark 6:30-44) You need a day off, and if for some reason you can’t grab that day off, find some time, a few hours, some spare time each day to “rest awhile”.
Sometimes we need to get away from each other. You need a vacation from us, and we need a vacation from you. Again, we have a whole church full of worker bees. You know who you are, and I know who you are, and everyone else knows too. But, we all need to get away from time to time, by ourselves and rest for a while. Rest! Rest! Rest is undervalued in our economy. It’s impossible to put a price tag on rest.
The Good Shepherd is calling to you. He is saying: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile”.