How do you feel when you return from a trip, wrap up a project, finish an important game ... or experience something hard? Most of us would be a bit drained—perhaps in need of a good meal and time to review events with someone we trust. When the disciples returned from their first mission, they probably felt that way. Well, Jesus understands exhaustion, though His solution isn’t always what we might expect.
Jesus and His disciples have been ministering throughout Judea.
Pause to review what you are doing for God.
- The 12 disciples had just returned from their mission to heal, cast out demons, and preach the gospel across the countryside (Mark 6:7-13). They “gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught” (v. 30). The Greek verb used for “gathered” is sunagó, which can have the sense of an intentional, pleasant event. As was true then, the Lord has more in mind for His followers than simply serving God by their own ability—Jesus is a strong, competent leader who’s willing to be active and available for us. Do you ever reach out to Him in prayer to “report all that you’ve done” recently? Describe the kind of leader you allow Jesus to be in your life and service. Or, perhaps, consider how you could change in this regard.
- After listening to their report, Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while” (Mark 6:31). He understood the need to recharge in private—especially in times of spiritual labor. List some words you think describe His attitude toward the disciples in this moment. Has a significant project or situation of yours ended, or is there something you need to take a break from? Ask God to show where you might need to rest and regroup.
- Anapauó—the Greek word translated as “rest” (v. 31)—is also used where Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Note that He went with the disciples as they tried to retreat for some time off (Mark 6:32). What does this tell you about the all-encompassing way in which the Lord provides soothing relief? Consider physical labor, spiritual tests, forgiveness of sin, a balanced life, the Sabbath rest—every area in which Jesus offers you comfort and peace. Take a moment right now to seek Christ’s presence and receive His rest, however you need it.
CONTINUING THE STORY
A crowd spotted the group sailing toward the wilderness and outran the boat. Jesus compassionately taught them until evening (Mark 6:33-34).
- The disciples suggested Jesus send the people away to find food. When He said, “You give them something to eat!” they resisted (Mark 6:35-37). Consider a time God has guided you in a direction that seemed impossible or inappropriate. What was your first reaction? How did the situation work out?
- Jesus then said, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” (Mark 6:38). Since He undoubtedly knew, why do you think He asked them this question?
- In distributing the miraculously multiplied loaves and fish, Jesus “gave them to the disciples again and again” (Mark 6:41). How is this reminiscent or symbolic of how God helps us with difficulties? Give an example from your own life.
If we invite God into our trials and situations, He’s always available to help. Divine power coupled with our readiness to obey leads to amazing solutions.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
You may have noticed that the apostles’ respite didn’t work out the way Jesus had planned. Or did it? Consider what happened: Recognizing that they were exhausted after an intense mission and needed to recharge, the Lord led them to a secluded place. But instead of being able to rest, they were confronted by large crowds in need of help. Hours later, when the disciples suggested sending the crowds away so they could get something to eat, Jesus insisted that the Twelve provide a meal. We can’t completely understand the relationship between God’s omniscience, power, love, and willingness to act in our lives. But we do know this: He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).
- What might the disciples have gained from seeing Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes? Would witnessing this supernatural provision have brought strength to your spirit? Sometimes when we think we need mental or physical rest, what we really need is trust. Ask God to reveal an area where you’re lacking faith.
- Jesus is always teaching us. Recall His generosity to give “again and again” (Mark 6:41) when we are in need. Is there anything you’re resistant to learning, (as the disciples were in Mark 6:52)? Pray for growth.
- The Lord gives us what we need in order to go where He guides us, yet it can still be disorienting and tiring. Stay close to Him. He’ll help you balance your labor, rest, learning, and service.