And He [Jesus] 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)
You know the rest of the story. When they got to that quiet place, their plans for rest and recovery were interrupted: it was teeming with people! Jesus had compassion on them because they were “like sheep without a shepherd.” He taught them for a while, and then things got even busier, because Jesus gave the disciples a task they thought was impossible: “You give them something to eat!” You can easily imagine the disciples response: “It’s late, and we can’t afford it! Are you crazy?” What follows is an incredible demonstration of Jesus’ power over the physical world. Five loaves and two fish became enough food to feed at least five thousand people. After all this was over, Jesus sends the disciples back into boat, and Jesus goes off by himself to pray.
My attention is drawn to the contrast between Jesus and His disciples. Their intended rest was interrupted by something that was necessary and good. And yet Jesus still made time to get by himself and pray, while the disciples went on to the next thing: rowing against the wind back across the lake. Things seemed overwhelming to the disciples then, too. They were “making headway painfully” (verse 48). They cried out with terror because they thought they saw a ghost (verse 50).
I know it’s an unfair question in a way, because Jesus sent them on both journeys. I wonder, though, if their responses to these situations might have been a little different if they had more rest. More time to build a deeper relationship with Jesus.
For us, we have no excuse. The Sabbath is a built-in time to cultivate both of those things. It might be interrupted. But let’s not waste the opportunity to reconnect with the One who gives us the power and grace to handle whatever life throws at us.