by Julie Zine Coleman
And [Jesus] said to them, “Come away with me to a secluded place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:33 NASB
It had been an exhilarating ride. Sent out as representatives of Jesus, the disciples had traveled in pairs from town to town, preaching repentance, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Now days later, they arrived back with stories to tell of amazing healings, exorcisms, and miraculous provision. It had been an experience like no other.
But as exciting as it had been, the men were now exhausted. The adrenaline rush had faded. The constant demand had left them drained. Jesus saw their weariness, and kindly offered a respite. “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,” he said. They collectively breathed a sigh of relief and boarded a boat to take them away from the crowds.
But respite was apparently not to be had. Word had spread, and people spotted them on the water from land. A huge crowd awaited them where they came to shore. Rather than avoiding the crowd, Jesus went right into their midst and began to teach them. So much for rest, the disciples must have thought.
The hours slipped by until it had grown quite late. The crowds must be starving, the disciples wearily realized. They approached Jesus. It surely was time to send them into the nearby towns so they could purchase food.
Jesus’ response took them by surprise. “You give them something to eat!” he commanded them. They looked at each other in dismay. There was definitely not enough money in the till to feed a crowd like this! But Jesus had a different idea. “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” The disciples found they had five loaves and two fish. Hardly enough to feed a crowd of 5,000.
Jesus took the loaves and fish and thanked His Heavenly Father for His provision. He broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. Much to their amazement, the food never ran out. Five thousand ate until they were satisfied, and there were even leftovers. Jesus sent the disciples to collect them. Each disciple returned with a basket full.
Jesus had promised the disciples rest. What they got was a long day working with an enormous crowd. So where was the rest Jesus promised?
The disciples may have been the hands and feet that delivered the food, but the power and provision were all from God. The miracle was a powerful lesson for their future ministry. Their power source would be God alone.
God’s power was amply displayed for each disciple as he filled his basket to the brim with the leftovers from the feast. The crowd ate until they were satisfied, and still there was more. The disciples learned another important lesson that day. As they served God in the years ahead, He would provide even more than they could use. Rest would be available to them every time they leaned into Him. An inexhaustible supply was theirs for the asking.
“Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus warned his disciples. (John 15: 5 NASB) Yes, we are willing, warm bodies. But the responsibility to accomplish the work is on God’s capable shoulders. Even in the middle of a taxing ministry, we can be at rest. He intends for us to do all things through Christ, who will strengthen us.
We can rest even when in the middle of the fray. His supernatural power and provision will be all we need.
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
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Join the conversation: What character quality makes it possible for you to in rest God?