“And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” (Mark 6:31, NASB95)
Jesus’ disciples had just returned from their missionary style journeys. After giving an account of their experiences, Jesus invites them to “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” Good advice.
What struck me as I considered Jesus’ invitation is how often, in these pandemic times, we’ve done little but rest in a secluded place. Obviously, some more than others. I’ve probably had more “stay at home” days this year than ever in my life. And yet none of those really came off as feeling “restful.”
There’s more to rest than the ceasing of physical labor. There’s also a mental and emotional component. And that resting of our thoughts and feelings has been the most difficult this past year. There was plenty to be anxious and even fearful about—an abundance of new problems to solve or just survive through. To one degree or another, we all experienced the emotional impact of grief and loss.
Jesus’ invitation to the disciples is more than finding a quiet place to physically rest. It is also finding that secluded place in our heart, mind, soul, and spirit. At another time, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28–29, NASB95) I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus linked work (yoke) and rest.
Maybe the best way to think about Jesus’ invitation is this – to what or whom are we yoked with? Are we yoked to our jobs? Yoked to an ideal? Yoked to a person or a group of persons? Yoked to a cause? Yoked to worry, fear, or past hurt? Yoked to our past, our present, or our future? Jesus is inviting us to put all of those aside, to take off those heavy burdens and yoke ourselves to Him.
The encouragement today is simply this. Rest in Christ. Take off all of your social-emotional fears and connect with Jesus. Rest in Him. That was Jesus’ invitation to His disciples, and it is His invitation to you and me.