Today’s reading was Mark 6:30-44
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Some comments on this:
There’s a rhythm of life here. There are intense periods of ministry, followed by an instruction by Jesus to “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” It’s normal for us to view the era back then as slower paced, without the tyranny of cellphones, instant messages, tweets and rush hour traffic. But it’s clear that even back then it was easy to get overwhelmed with busyness, and even Jesus, whose “God-tank” was about as full as it is possible to get, needed time to refresh and restore. How much more then do we?
I know for myself, after intense periods of ministry (sprinting) I need time to recover, restore, refresh. My style is mostly sprint/rest/sprint/rest and that works well for me. For others, they may have a more consistent strolling style, but even there the deep tiredness can creep up unawares until we finally sense that we have lost our edge, that our enjoyment of the day is minimal, that days become mundane and you feel like you are stuck in an endless, unexciting rhythm.
For me, my level of enthusiasm and positivity is a good monitor for whether I need to rest and restore. If I am on good form, enthusiasm is not a problem for me. If I am tired, then I’ll be less enthusiastic and more pessimistic.
The question for all of us is how can we build such rhythms of work/rest into our day, our week, our month, our year. Steven Covey called this “sharpening the saw” and it’s essential for all of us.
Now onto the more obvious message of the passage: where we have little, Jesus is able to give the increase. As I talked about this passage this morning with Landon, we related it to growth in character, using Galatians 5:22-23a as a reference point:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control.
Landon chose the one he thought he most needed Jesus to add to, and we prayed about that. Which one would it be for you? Remember, from little beginnings, Jesus can add much.