The Text (Mark 6:30-34)
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
The disciples have just returned from their ministry tour and they are physically and spiritually exhausted. Jesus encourages them to come away with Him to a deserted place to rest. They need sleep, food, and time with the Lord. If Jesus Himself needed time to be alone with the Father, how much more did His disciples. Yet they cannot rest for long. As they sail across on a boat to their chosen spot, Mark tells us that the multitudes had recognized Jesus and ran ahead of the small group, beating them to their “deserted place.” No rest for the weary! The disciples would be justified in asking the crowds to go away for at least one day, to give them a chance to recover from their missionary journeys. But Jesus looks out at the crowds, and the Son of God has compassion for their poor souls. The Good Shepherd cannot ignore the lost and wandering sheep that are so desperate for His help.
Every Christian must learn how to balance rest in Christ with service to Christ. If we spend too much working for Jesus and not enough time alone with Him in quiet prayer and meditation on His Word, we will become exhausted and lose His power and love in our ministry. But we cannot spend time in honest fellowship with Jesus without being moved with compassion for the people in our lives who need Him, too. When we obey God by lovingly reaching out to people who need spiritual help, our devotional lives gain fresh fire and passion, which in turn strengthens our witness for Christ. Since my own salvation experience, I have never felt closer to God than right after preaching or sharing the gospel with people who need to be saved. There is a special joy that we find when we get God’s heart for the spiritually dead and broken. He went to the cross for the lost sheep. He went to the cross for you and me. Not because we were loveable, because we were not. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep simply because He loved us. I pray that God gives us both rest in Him and His heart for others today.