Mark 6 – Times of rest by Revd Amanda Denniss

It’s the time of year when many of us will get the chance to have a holiday. Some of us will have the opportunity to go away. Maybe go to stay with family or friends. Some of us may stay at home, but take a break from work or from our usual routine and commitments. Oliver and I about to go on holiday and we are both very excited. For us, it’s an opportunity to slow down, to go for walks, to enjoy the glory of God’s creation, to read some books, to have long, delicious meals (we hope!), to enjoy being together.

What does Jesus say about holidays? In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ Holidays can be an opportunity for us to make time to be with Jesus.

This morning we are going to look at these words of Jesus from chapter 6.31 of Mark’s gospel.

We are going to look at three questions

  • Why do we need a rest?
  • What does rest look like?
  • What does it look like when we get back?
  1. Why do we need a rest?

Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Come with me….and get some rest.’ Why did Jesus’ disciples need a rest? Put simply, they had been working hard doing the work that Jesus had told them to do.

Earlier in Mark 6.7-12, Jesus had sent out the twelve disciples in twos. He had told them to go from village to village and preach the good news of the gospel. The disciples had faithfully done this. They had gone from village to village telling people that it was possible to have a relationship with God though Jesus. They had explained what repentance really is.

Repentance is a precious gift of God. Repentance essentially means being given the opportunity to get close to Jesus and live our lives following him.

  • To turn away from a self-centred life with ‘me’ at the centre.
  • To live our lives with Jesus at the centre.
  • It’s about entering into a relationship with Jesus that is close, personal and loving

As the disciples preached this good news Mark tells us that they drove out many demons and healed many sick people. These are all signs-demonstrations-of what it looks like when Jesus’ kingdom draws near.

The disciples returned from their tour of the villages and told Jesus all about it. You can imagine how excited they were. Seeing people come into a relationship with God. Seeing people healed. Seeing people set free from the power of the demonic.

But we can imagine they were also tired. Mark tells us that there was such a busyness of people around Jesus that they didn’t even have a chance to eat.

I think many of us will be able to identify with the disciples. We work hard. We need a rest, but the busyness of life surrounds us.

  • Needs of our family. Maybe our children. Maybe our elderly parents. Maybe just keeping the house running.
  • Maybe it’s the demands of work.
  • Maybe the pressures of email, social media
  • Maybe our ministry in the church whatever form that may take. I know that many of you worked very hard during the interregnum and have continued to do so.

Jesus says, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

  1. What does rest with Jesus look like?

Jesus says, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place.’ Some translations say ‘desert place’ some say to a ‘wilderness place.’

Jesus is calling his disciples to more than a well earned rest after some hard work.

The gospel writer Mark is consciously looking back to a time when God gathered to himself a special people in the desert of Sinai at the time of the exodus from Egypt. This was a time when God’s people knew God’s presence with them. It was a desert place where God provided for every need of his people. It was a place where God showed them what it was like to be in a relationship with a loving God.

Jesus is calling his disciples to this quiet, wilderness place

  • To be with him, to know God’s presence
  • To have all their needs provided for by Jesus
  • To grow in their relationship with him and their trust in him

Holidays are times when we get the opportunity to get out of our normal routine. They are not just a chance to get a well-earned rest after our hard work. Jesus speaks to us the same words that he spoke to the disciples, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

Jesus is calls us to this quiet, wilderness place

  • To be with him, to know his presence
  • To have all our needs provided for by Jesus
  • To grow in our relationship with him and our trust in him

How do we do it?

  1. What does it look like when we get back?

Maybe we’ve had the blessing of taking a break from our normal routine, we’ve spent time with Jesus, we’ve been refreshed, had our faith in Jesus strengthened.

Then we get back.

The disciples got back to face real challenges. Before they went away they had gone from village to village telling people about Jesus. Now those same people from the villages recognised them and rushed to be with them and Jesus. Now there was more work for the disciples to do. More ministry. The next challenge the disciples faced was to join with Jesus in the miracle of feeding the 5000.

Our times of rest with Jesus

  • Maybe each day in our prayer time
  • Maybe for longer periods on holiday

These times of rest in Jesus don’t lead to escape. These times

  • Build our relationship with Jesus
  • Build our faith and our trust in him
  • They are times of deep refreshing

When we return we are strengthened to do the things Jesus calls us to do-not alone-but with Jesus at the centre of our lives and relationships

  • In our families
  • With our relationships with friends, neighbours
  • With our work colleagues
  • With our relationships and ministry in the church
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