ABC Extra – Some Much Needed Rest

January 28, 2013 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Rest Area 2This past weekend in worship and ABC, we talked about the importance of working smarter rather than harder.  The poster child for the opposite – working harder rather than smarter – was Moses, who, after he explained to his father-in-law Jethro how he was serving as the sole arbiter and judge for all of Israel’s disputes, was told by his father-in-law, “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18).  Blessedly, Moses humbly swallowed his pride and, in Exodus 18:24, we read, “Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”

Moses may have had the good sense to listen to his father-in-law and delegate some of his duties to other trustworthy Israelites, but, even with some much needed help, Moses’ responsibilities did not suddenly became light and easy.  Jethro admits as much when, after encouraging Moses to share his workload with others, he says, “If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain” (Exodus 18:23).  Moses’ responsibilities, though fewer, will continue to be straining and stressful.  There will still be plenty for Moses to do.

Perhaps you can relate to Moses.  After all, you, like Moses, have probably been told of the importance of working smarter and not harder.  Yet, no matter how many time management principles you implement and no matter how many tasks you delegate, you, like Moses, may still find yourself awash in a sea of obligations and unexpected troubles that can become overwhelming at times.  What do you do when the principles of working smarter rather than harder fail you?  Jesus shows the way.

Mark 6 proves to be one of the most tragic in the Gospel.  Jesus’ dear friend and cousin, John the Baptist, is beheaded at the behest of Herod Antipas’ stepdaughter.  Jesus is understandably distraught.  But Jesus’ jam-packed calendar of ministry marches on.  In the episode immediately succeeding John the Baptist’s untimely death, Mark notes, “So many people were coming and going that Jesus and His disciples did not even have a chance to eat” (Mark 6:31).  Jesus may be mourning, but the crowds still want to see Him.

It is with the memory of Jesus’ cousin weighing in on Him and the throngs of curiosity seekers pressing down around Him that Jesus issues an invitation to His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Jesus’ invitation is fascinating.  Though Jesus Himself is certainly tired and emotionally spent, Jesus’ primary concern is not with Himself, but with His disciples.  The verbs of His invitation – “come” and “get some rest” – are second person plural verbs.  That is, Jesus is saying to His followers, “You come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and you get some rest.”  Jesus, knowing that His disciples are exhausted even as He is exhausted, nevertheless has compassion on His disciples and invites them to get some rest by spending time with Him.

Jesus, it seems, is a man of boundless compassion.  He has compassion on His disciples when He invites them to rest with Him.  When Jesus’ plans for a peaceful getaway are foiled because large crowds follow Him to His destination, Mark notes, “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So He began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34).  Jesus has compassion on the crowds when He cancels His vacation plans to preach them a sermon.  Following His sermon, when He finds out the crowds He has been teaching are hungry, He has compassion on the multitudes by holding history’s first potluck.  When everyone else forgets to bring a side dish, Jesus takes the meager offering of a little boy – five loaves and two fish – and multiplies it to feed five thousand.

As He does on the disciples when they are tired and as He does on the crowds when they are spiritually lost and physically hungry, Jesus has compassion on you too.  When your life is straining and stressful, Jesus understands.  After all, He has gone through straining and stressful times too – losing loved ones and being exhausted by the rigors of day-to-day ministry.  But Jesus doesn’t just empathize, He can also help.  For the same invitation He offers to His disciples, He extends to you:  “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).  Or, as He puts it another time:  “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

No time management principle – no matter how good it may be – can remove all stress and strain from life.  For life is full of the unexpected.  But no stress or strain – no matter how heavy – can destroy the peace and rest that Jesus gives.  For the peace and rest that Jesus gives is not based on life’s circumstances, but on His promise.  And His promise is stronger than life’s stresses.

So go away with Jesus and get some rest.  You need it.

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