Flashback Episode — When Jesus Wanted to Rest: Mark 6:30-44

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As we are approximately half way through are year focusing on the miracles Jesus did within the gospel record, we come to the only official miracle that all four gospel writers include. While we could argue that all four gospel writer’s include the resurrection and that the resurrection was a significant miracle, interestingly enough, most lists of miracles don’t include the resurrection. However, that won’t stop us from including it near the end of our year of miracles.

Instead, the official list of miracles only includes one miracle that all four gospel writers include, and this miracle is the one where Jesus feeds a crowd of over 5,000 men, plus women and children. Since this miracle is significant enough for all four gospel writers to include, we’ll spend a couple of episodes focusing on this event to draw out some powerful truths we can apply into our own lives.

When reading from how each of the gospel writers sets the stage for this miracle, I was fascinated by how Mark describes this event for us. Following sending the disciples out on their missionary training, and following learning that His cousin, John the Baptist, had been killed, Mark sets the stage for this miracle in a unique way.

Our passage is found in the gospel of Mark, chapter 6, and we will be reading from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 30, Mark sets the stage for this miraculous event by telling us that:

30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.

Let’s pause reading here because while it is very tempting to jump forward to get to the miracle, we would miss the significance of what Jesus intended for His disciples. From these opening verses, Jesus wanted to go away with the disciples and simply rest with them. They had successfully completed their missionary outing, and the next best thing they could do was to rest together.

From how this passage describes what was happening, Jesus and the disciples were so busy with people coming and asking for help that they didn’t even have time to eat. If this were to extend too much longer, Jesus and His disciples would experience burnout and crash.

The big lesson we should learn from this opening is that it is critically important for us to take time away from our mission in life to simply rest. We should never feel guilty taking time to rest and recharge. While there is always a never-ending to-do list, it would be wise to remember that the list is literally never-ending. While we shouldn’t ignore the list, we also shouldn’t focus on it so much that we burn out. In these opening verses, Mark describes for us how Jesus wanted to give the disciples the opportunity to rest after they had successfully finished their missionary journey to the surrounding region.

However, we will soon discover that even Jesus didn’t get to experience His ideal plan for their group. Continuing in verse 33, Mark tells us that:

33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 38 And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

Let’s stop reading here because we are coming up to the end of our time for this episode. While we had focused on how Jesus intended for He and the disciples to spend some downtime together to simply rest and recharge, we discover that this wasn’t to happen at this point. Instead, we read that those on the shore followed Jesus around the lake and they beat Him to the other side.

While Jesus could have sent them away because He and the disciples needed to rest, Mark tells us that Jesus felt compassion for them and instead of sending them away, He begins to teach them, and then this teaching ultimately concludes with an amazing miracle. With how Mark’s gospel describes the foundation for this miracle, we discover that it is critical for us to take time regularly to pause our mission and our lives to simply rest and recharge. But with this miracle, we also discover that when God brings people into our lives who need help, it is our responsibility to help them similar to how Jesus helped the crowd even though He would have rather been resting instead.

In our own lives, we should regularly rest and recharge, but we also should always be willing to help those God has brought into our lives.

In our next episode, we’ll continue looking at this miracle, and we’ll focus in on some details a different gospel writer includes in this event, and learn more about what made this miracle significant and special.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

If you haven’t taken the time or made the opportunity to rest recently, set time aside today. Working yourself to death today will only lead to your death sooner than God may have intended, and you won’t have been as effective or healthy while alive. Regularly schedule times to rest, recharge, and unplug from your mission, while always being ready to help if God sends someone needing help your way.

Also, always keep praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and discover God’s truth for your life. While many people have interesting ideas, filter everything through what you read in the Bible because the Bible is God’s story laid out across this world’s history. If there is ever a conflict in ideas, traditions, or theories, choose the side that aligns with the Bible over any and every other theory.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 26: While most people familiar with the gospels know about the miracle our passage focuses in on, most people are not aware that Jesus had something else in mind for that time on the other side of the lake. Discover what Jesus wanted to do, and then what He ultimately does do in our passage for this episode.

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