Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty through fifty-six of the sixth chapter. “And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:30-31).
“And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? HE saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men” (Mark 6:32-44).
“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:45-52).
“And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, and ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole” (Mark 6:53-56).
AND THE APOSTLES GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER UNTO JESUS, AND TOLD HIM ALL THINGS, BOTH WHAT THEY HAD DONE, AND WHAT THEY HAD TAUGHT! COME YE YOURSELVES APART INTO A DESERT PLACE, AND REST A WHILE! THERE WERE MANY COMING AND GOING! THEY HAD NO LEISURE SO MUCH AS TO EAT!
AND THEY DEPARTED INTO A DESERT PLACE BY SHIP PRIVATELY! AND THE PEOPLE SAW THEM DEPARTING, AND MANY KNEW HIM, AND RAN AFOOT THITHER OUT OF ALL CITIES, AND OUTWENT THEM, AND CAME TOGETHER UNTO HIM! JESUS, WHEN HE CAME OUT, SAW MUCH PEOPLE, AND WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION TOWARD THEM! THEY WERE AS SHEEP NOT HAVING A SHEPHERD! HE BEGAN TO TEACH THEM MANY THING! WHEN THE DAY WAS NOW FAR SPENT, HIS DISCIPLES CAME UNTO HIM, AND SAID, THIS IS A DSERT PLACE, AND NOW THE TIME IS FAR PASSED! SEND THEM AWAY, THAT THEY MAY GO INTO THE COUNTRY ROUND ABOUT, AND INTO THE VILLAGES, AND BUY THEMSELVES BREAD! GIVE YE THEM TO EAT! HOW MANY LAOVES HAVE YE? GO AND SEE! HE COMMANDED THEM TO MAKE ALL SIT DOWN BY COMPANIES UPON THE GREEN GRASS! THEY SAT DOWN IN RANKS BY HUNDREDS, AND BY FIFTIES! AND THEY DID ALL EAT, AND WERE FILLED! THEY TOOK UP TWELVE BASKETS FULL OF FRAGMENTS!
WHILE HE SENT AWAY THE PEOPLE! WHEN HE HAD SENT THEM AWAY, HE DEPARTED INTO A MOUNTAIN TO PRAY! WHEN EVEN WAS COME, THE SHIP WAS IN THE MIDST OF THE SEA! HE ALONE ON THE LAND! HE SAW THEM TOILING IN ROWING; FOR THE WIND WAS CONTRARY UNTO THEM! ABOUT THE FOURTH WATCH OF THE NIGHT HE COMETH UNTO THEM, WALKING UPON THE SEA! AND IMMEDIATELY HE TALKED WITH THEM! BE OF GOOD CHEER! IT IS I! BE NOT AFRAID! AND HE WENT UP UNTO THEM INTO THE SHIP!
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jesus having just raised Jairus’ daughter from death to life, as well as bringing healing and cleansing to the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years. In the previous section of verses you will find and read an incredibly powerful narrative of Jesus not only giving life back to the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years, but you will also find Jesus giving the daughter back to Jairus and his wife. It’s incredibly interesting to read the words which are found within this portion of Scripture, for what we find concerning the woman with the issue of blood was that she had spent everything she had over a twelve year period of time consulting physicians seeking their help and assistance. John Mark writes and records how this woman—although she had consulted many physicians throughout and over that twelve year period of time—suffered many things at the hands and behest of many physicians and rather than growing better she actually grew worse. Undoubtedly this woman had heard many things concerning Jesus and was willing to brave the large crowd of people which thronged round about and pressed against the Lord Jesus Christ as He was heading to the house of Jairus to hopefully bring healing to his little girl. This woman believed within her heart that if she could but touch the hem of the garment of Jesus she would be healed and made whole of the plague which was found within her body. Scripture records and recounts how this woman made her way through the crowd and how she came up behind Jesus and was in fact able to touch the hem of His garment. Immediately after she had touched the hem of His garment the fountain of blood within her was dried up and she knew instantaneously that she was healed and made whole of her plague. What makes this narrative all the more intriguing and interesting when you consider it is that immediately after this woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, and immediately after the fountain of her blood was dried up and she was healed of the plague Jesus knew and recognized that power and virtue had left His body and His person.
You cannot miss the tremendous importance of what is found in the previous portion of Scripture, for the words which are found in this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality of a woman who was willing to make her way through the crowd of people that she might but touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. This woman didn’t even need Jesus to speak the word, nor did this woman even need Jesus to lay His hands on her, but needed only touch the hem of His garment and she would indeed and would in fact be whole. When Jesus realized and recognized that power and virtue had flowed forth from Him He immediately stopped Himself in the crowd and asked who it was that touched Him. Slightly confused the disciples themselves could not fully understand the question their Master was asking, for the question He asked seemed to be absurd considering that there was a great crowd of people that had gathered themselves unto and around Him. As Jesus, His disciples and Jairus were headed to the house of this ruler of the synagogue there would be many people who would follow and walk with Jesus, and as a direct result of this there would be many people who would continually press up against Jesus as He walked. What you find within this passage of Scripture, however, is that Jesus not only recognized that power and virtue had gone forth from Him, but He also realized and understood that someone had touched Him—and not simply a casual touch that would take place as a result of walking with, following Him, and pressing up against Him. Jesus recognized and understood that there was someone who deliberately and intentionally touched Him—someone entirely and altogether different from those who were present in the crowd. Jesus knew and recognized within Himself—not only that power and virtue had flowed forth from His being, but also that someone else had come unto Him and had deliberately and intentionally touched Him.
I can’t help but think about the fact that as surely as Jesus realized and recognized that power and virtue had flowed forth from Him, so also did He know and understand who it was that touched Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that just as Jesus knew and perceived that power and virtue had flowed forth from His physical body, so also He knew who it was that touched Him. What makes this all the more captivating and beautiful is when you think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus’ question indicate and suggest a deliberate and intentional touching of His person, but it was also an invitation for that person who had touched Him to make themselves known. Jesus knew that power and virtue had gone out from Him, and Jesus knew who it was that touched Him, however, His question was designed and intended to call that person who had indeed touched Him out of the shadows and into the light. This woman who was already healed, cleansed and made whole of her plague was now being invited by the Lord Jesus Christ to show and make herself known that Jesus might indeed and might in fact look upon her. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus’ question concerning who it was that touched Him was designed and intended to call this woman forward, and to call her forward that He might speak directly unto her. Oh it would have been one thing for this woman to be healed, cleansed and made whole of her plague and then to have departed unto her home as she walked in that cleansing. It would have been one thing for this woman to experience the fountain of her blood drying up within her and being cleansed of her plague, and then to immediately go her way and depart unto her home. The very fact that this woman was able to come forward—even though she came forward trembling and falling at the feet of Jesus—indicates and suggests that even after she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment she was still present in the crowd. Even after this woman was healed, cleansed and made whole of her plague she chose to remain in that place in the midst of the crowd—perhaps even walking with Jesus, His disciples, Jairus, and all those who went along the way with them.
I love how Jesus not only recognized that power and virtue had gone out from Him, and how Jesus not only recognized and understood that someone had deliberately and intentionally touched Him, as well as how Jesus stopped Himself in the midst of the crowd. Jesus deliberately and intentionally stopped Himself in the midst of the crowd and asked who it was that touched Him, for He knew that power and virtue had gone out from Him. Jesus knew that power and virtue had gone out from Him, and this woman knew that the fountain of her blood was dried up and that she was made whole of her plague. It would be in this place Jesus would invite this woman who not only touched the hem of His garment, but who also experienced healing and cleansing within her physical body to come forth before Him in His presence. Oh it’s one thing for this woman to experience healing, cleansing and being made whole of her plague, however, it is something entirely and altogether different for this woman to be called into the presence of Jesus after experiencing and receiving that healing. What’s more, is that Jesus could have let this woman go about her way having experienced the fountain of her blood drying up, and even knowing within herself that she had been made whole of her plague. Jesus did not have to turn around in the crowd looking for that one who had touched Him, and He could have let her make her way home having received healing and cleansing. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus desired to call this woman forward into His presence, and in His presence before Him He would now speak directly unto her. Oh the sole reason and purpose for Jesus calling this woman out from the midst of the crowd and before Him in His presence was that He might actually speak directly unto her—even though she might still be filled with fear and trembling within her heart and physical body. Jesus would desire that the one who had touched Him make themselves known that He might not only look upon them, but might also speak unto them.
Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus saw this woman come forward with fear and trembling as she kneeled before Him at His feet He was moved with compassion toward her. Jesus knew that power and virtue had gone forth from her person, and His question concerning who had touched Him was an invitation for that one who had touched Him to not only come forward, but also to recount and testify concerning what had happened unto them. It is truly remarkable when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that not only did this woman speak unto Jesus and unto those who walked with Him concerning what had happened unto her, but so also did Jesus speak directly unto the woman. After hearing everything the woman had spoken unto Him Jesus would address and speak to this woman as daughter, and would then emphatically declare unto her that her faith had made her whole. Moreover, Jesus would invite and instruct this woman to go on her way and be whole of the plague that was once present within her body. It is truly astounding and remarkable when you think about and consider the words and language found within this passage of Scripture, for it calls and invites us into the place where we recognize that there is a touch that is entirely and altogether different in the midst of a crowd of people which were and which are touching Jesus. There were countless men and women who were touching and pressing against Jesus as bystanders of what He might do, and yet there was one touch that was entirely and altogether different. There was one touch that would be deliberate and intentional as this woman would make her way through the crowd and would deliberately and intentionally touch her. Jesus recognized that power and virtue had gone forth from His physical person and that someone had touched Him, for it was the very fact that power and virtue had flowed forth from Him that indicated that someone had touched Him. It was the flowing forth of power and virtue from Jesus that would clearly indicate that someone had indeed and did in fact touch Jesus—and not only touched Him, but also deliberately and intentionally touched Him.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words and passage which is found before us in this text and I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that at the very beginning of the text we find the apostles having gathered themselves together unto Jesus and speaking unto them all the things they had done and taught. This would take place after Jesus had not only brought healing and cleansing into the life of the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years, but also after Jesus would raise up Jairus’ daughter from death to life. Jesus would bring healing, wholeness and cleansing into the physical body of this woman who had spent the last twelve years having an issue of blood within her body that would not only make her unclean, but would also cause her to spend all she had and suffer many things at the hands of many physicians. This woman spent the last twelve years of her life with an issue within her physical body, and had spent all she had hoping that physicians would be able to bring healing to her body and offer some type of solution, and yet rather than growing better she would grow worse. Even after this woman had experienced healing within her physical body report would come unto Jairus from his home that his daughter had died and that he did not need to trouble the master any longer. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to the range of emotions and thoughts that filled the heart and mind of Jairus during those days and times, and yet what we do know is that Jesus instructed and invited Jairus to be not afraid and only to believe. Undoubtedly Jesus realized, recognized and discerned that Jairus’ heart and soul was filled with fear and doubt upon receiving the news that his daughter was dead, and yet Jesus’ words and message to him was that he need not and ought not be fearful or afraid, and that he ought not doubt.
The scriptural account reveals and records that when Jesus, Jairus, Peter, James and John arrived at the home of Jairus there was much ado and much weeping and wailing over the death of this little girl. Jesus would look upon and behold all the weeping and wailing that would take place within the house of Jairus and would ask those who were present why they were weeping, for the girl was not dead, but merely sleeping. What makes this narrative so remarkable is when you think about and consider the fact that their weeping and mourning would be turned into laughter—and not only laughter, but also scorn when they heard Jesus declare that this girl was not dead, but merely sleeping. Oh how interesting it is that weeping could indeed and could in fact be turned and transformed into laughing when Jesus shows up and offers hope and encouragement in the midst of a situation and circumstance of despair and discouragement. Jesus showed up at the house of Jairus and would hear all the weeping and wailing and would immediately declare that this girl was not dead, but was merely sleeping. After being laughed to scorn Jesus would put all those who were in the house out, and would enter into the place where the little girl was with Jairus and his wife, as well as those three disciples who were with him. Jesus would then take this young girl by the hand and would speak the words “Talitha cumi,” which would be translated and interpreted as an invitation for this damsel and little girl to rise. Immediately this little girl would open her eyes, would rise up from the bed upon which she had been lying, and would begin walking. Oh it is absolutely astounding and remarkable to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would indeed and would in fact not only give the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years her life back, but Jesus would also give Jairus and his wife their little girl back. This little girl who was twelve years of age would be given back to Jairus and his wife, as they would have an entirely new lease on life with their little girl.
As you begin reading the words which are found in the latter portion of this text you will find that after the apostles had gathered themselves together unto Jesus and told Him all those things which they had done and spoken, Jesus would invite them to away and apart with Him into a desert place and rest a while. It’s quite interesting and remarkable to think about and consider what is found within this passage of Scripture, for Jesus didn’t praise or applaud the apostles for what they had done. Jesus didn’t ask the apostles what specifically they had done, or even what they had taught. There appears to be no indication within the text that Jesus immediately heard the apostles declare and speak unto them that they had done many mighty things, and even that they had taught many great things. There is no indication that Jesus would praise the apostles for the works which they had done, nor would even praise them for the words which they would teach. Instead what we find Jesus doing is inviting these apostles to come away and apart with Him that they might rest. Oh it is truly something entirely interesting to think about and consider the fact that here were the apostles returning unto Jesus speaking of all they had said and done—even all they had said and done in His name—and yet that which Jesus chooses to do instead of praising their works and their words was invite them to come away with Him into a solitary place and rest for a while. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus realized and understood how incredibly important rest truly was for Himself, as well as for the apostles, for John Mark would go on to write how there were so many men and women coming and going that the apostles and Jesus did not even have leisure enough to eat and/or to rest. Jesus realized and understood that the disciples needed to come apart and come away with Him and enter into a place of rest, and so He would invite them into that place where they would depart from the crowds and the multitudes of people and would get away and get alone with Him. Jesus’ invitation is one that must carefully be considered, for I am convinced there are a number of men and women in this generation who desperately need to accept this invitation from Jesus to come apart and come away with Him to rest.
Over the past thirteen plus years I have worked out, and one of the things they always tell you when you work out is that as much as your body needs fuel to replenish itself, and as much as your body needs food to help recovery and growth, so also the body needs rest. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and understand this, for when you think about and consider working out you will think about and consider the fact that not only is proper diet and food necessary, but so also is rest absolutely critical for growth and recovery. When you think and speak about working out it is absolutely necessary that you recognize and understand that in addition to working out itself there is also the great need for proper diet and eating, as well as proper rest that the body might experience growth and recovery. This concept of rest is not only indicative of perhaps one or two days during the week where you allow your body to rest from its labors, from the tension, from the stress, from the workout(s), and from the incredible pressure you have placed upon it, but it is also indicative of proper sleep during the evening. If and when you think and speak about rest you will and you must consider the fact that this rest not only touches that one or two days when you allow your body to rest from all its tension, pressure, stress and labors, but it also touches on proper sleep. It is not enough to simply workout and to continually place your body under constant stress, tension and pressure, for you must also fuel your body with those things which are necessary to facilitate growth, as well as provide your body with the correct and appropriate rest. The more you think about and the more you consider the reality and concept of rest the more you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that as critical as we would like to think working out is we must also recognize and understand that allowing our body to rest and filling and fueling our body with the proper resources and foods are just as vital and just as critical to what we are trying to accomplish.
I am absolutely and completely convinced that what is true in the physical and natural realm concerning working out—and not only working out, but also work in general—is also true in the spiritual sense. There is not a doubt in my mind that what is true in the arena and realm of working out and work in and of itself is also true when you think about the work and ministry of the kingdom. This particular passage reveals and points to the fact that the disciples and Jesus had interacted with so many people who had both come and gone that they did not have time or leisure to even eat and experience rest. Undoubtedly Jesus realized and recognized that what the apostles needed was to come away and come apart with Himself and rest. Undoubtedly Jesus knew and understood that although the apostles might very well have done many great things and had taught many wonderful things—that which was desperately needed within their physical bodies and persons was getting away together with Him that they might rest. Jesus knew and understood that what was so desperately needed for the apostles was to actually get away from the crowds, get away from the multitudes, get away from the groups of people who came and went, and to get alone with Him in a quiet, in a solitary and in a desert place. Jesus knew and recognized that as much as it might have been truly wonderful to speak and do many great things in His name there was still that need to not only rest, but also to get alone and get apart with Him. Jesus knew and understood that at the very heart and foundation of ministry and work within the kingdom is the ability and the willingness to get away and get alone with Him that one might experience the true rest they so desperately need within their physical bodies, within their hearts, within their souls, and within their minds. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the final verses of the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms. Consider if you will the following words which are found in both of these passages concerning this tremendous need to not only get away and get alone with Jesus, but also to experience true and genuine rest:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of m; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:1-6).
There is absolutely no denying and mistaking the words which are found within these two passages that Jesus desires and even delights in giving us rest—and not only rest for our physical bodies which might be tired and weary, but also rest for our souls, rest for our minds, and rest for our hearts. I am absolutely and completely convinced when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that Jesus recognized and understood the tremendous importance of getting alone and getting away with Him that His apostles might experience rest—and not only rest, but also fellowship. I would dare say that while it might very well be true the disciples walked with and followed Jesus during those three and a half years and heard and listened to all the words which He taught, there was still a great need within their physical persons and within their lives to get away and get alone with Jesus that they might experience true and genuine rest. There is not a doubt in my mind that there was a great need within the heart and lives of the disciples to experience true and genuine rest, for it would be in that place of rest where they would experience fellowship and relationship with Jesus. Oh I do firmly believe that they would experience fellowship and relationship to a certain degree in the midst of the crowds, and even as they walked with and followed Jesus, however, there was something entirely and altogether different about getting alone and getting apart with Jesus that you might not only experience rest within your physical person, but also that you might experience that fellowship and relationship in the secret and quiet place.
I have to admit that the more I sit here and consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that while it might very well have been true that the apostles had taught many things, and had wrought many things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, there was a great need for them to come away with and get apart and alone with Jesus that they might rest for a while. Oh it would have been one thing for Jesus to simply call and invite the apostles to come apart into a desert place to get away from the crowds and the multitudes, however, that which Jesus would actually speak in the company and presence of the apostles was that they come away into a desert, into a solitary, into a quiet, into a private place that they might experience rest. It was indeed true the apostles might very well have engaged themselves in the work and ministry of the kingdom, however, Jesus recognized and understood that what the apostles needed in that moment was to get alone and to come apart into a quiet, solitary and private place that they might experience rest. It’s almost as if Jesus was speaking and declaring unto the apostles, saying, “It’s wonderful that you have taught many things in my name, and it’s wonderful that you have done many things in my name, however, that which you need right now is rest. That which you need right now is to get yourselves away from the crowds and get yourselves away from the multitudes that you might actually experience rest.” Jesus recognized and understood that what was desperately needed within the lives of these disciples and apostles was getting away alone with Him and apart from the crowds and multitudes. Jesus recognized and understood that what the disciples and apostles needed was the ability to get themselves alone together with Him that they might not only experience rest for their physical bodies, rest for their hearts, rest for their minds, and rest for their souls, but also that they might experience fellowship, relationship and intimacy with Jesus in that quiet and solitary place.
I find myself being absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the words found in this particular passage, for the words which are found here present us with the awesome and powerful truth that when the apostle returned unto Jesus rejoicing and speaking of the many wonderful works they had wrought, and speaking of the many wonderful things they had taught—instead of praising their accomplishment and what they had done, Jesus instead invited them to get alone and come away with Him. Jesus could have very easily praised their works and/or even began asking them what they taught or what they had done, and yet that which Jesus realized and recognized and understood was that they desperately needed rest for their souls, and rest for their physical bodies. Jesus recognized and understood that they had been about the work and ministry of the kingdom and that there had been much people coming and going that they had not even had leisure or time to take care of themselves and rest. This is actually something that is quite necessary and oftentimes overlooked within the body of Christ, for there are countless men and women who will spend a considerable amount of time caring for others, and yet they take absolutely no time for self-care. There is not a doubt in my mind that almost as important as it is to care for others is that practice and discipline of self-care and actually taking care of yourself. I firmly believe that one of the single greatest things we can do at times is get away and come apart with the Holy Spirit, and get alone with the Father, and get alone with Jesus that we might not only engage ourselves in the practice of caring for ourselves, but also that we might allow the Father and the Son to take care of us by and through the person of the Holy Spirit.
I sit here today thinking about this reality and concept of self-care, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are a number of men and women whom Jesus is standing at the door and knocking, and who Jesus desires for them to open the door and invite Him in that they might engage in fellowship, in relationship and in intimacy with each other. I firmly believe that one of the greatest needs facing many men and women among us is not only looking after and caring for the interests, the needs and the troubles, cares and burdens of others, but also caring for themselves. Perhaps one of the most interesting truths found within Scripture is that of loving our neighbor as we have loved and as we love ourselves. You would think that Jesus would have instructed His disciples and followers to love their neighbor as He loved others, or even as the Father loved them, and yet the truth and underlying reality is that when speaking of our love for others Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is something that is truly worth thinking about and considering, for when we think about loving others, when we think about loving our neighbors, when we think about loving our brothers and our sisters, and when we even think about loving our neighbors we must needs realize and understand that we have been called to love others as ourselves. If we are being truly honest with ourselves the love we have for ourselves is rooted, grounded and founded in our love for the living God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. Not only this, but our love for others is rooted and grounded in our love for the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength, and the love we have for ourselves. It’s interesting and worth noting and pointing out that what has been commonly referred to as “The Golden Rule” clearly states that we must needs to unto others as we have them do unto us. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how incredibly important this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that we have indeed and have in fact been called to love others as ourselves, and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
This matter of loving others as ourselves and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us is an incredibly important and powerful picture when we truly take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention into the place where we recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called into a place where we are willing to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and not as they have done unto us, nor even as they are doing unto us. When we think and speak about loving others as ourselves we realize and recognize the tremendous importance of self-care and actually taking care of ourselves, for we would not despise, nor would we deprive ourselves of that which we need. Even in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew we find and read the Lord Jesus Christ emphatically declaring that we ought not seek after and pursue those things which the Gentiles seek after—what we will wear, what we will eat, and what we will drink—for our Father in heaven knows what we have need of before we even ask Him. What’s more, is that we have been invited and instructed into the place where we seek first the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God, and all these things can and will be added unto us. It is truly something incredibly important to realize and recognize when speaking of self-care that the single greatest means whereby we allow ourselves to engage in the discipline of self-care is realizing and recognizing that it is indeed and is in fact done in the secret place where we abide under the shadow of the Almighty. The practice and discipline of self-care is not even entirely and altogether about us taking care of ourselves, but rather about our trusting and depending upon the heavenly Father to meet all of our needs. It is in that secret place, it is in that quiet place, it is in that solitary place where we encounter the rest which is so desperately needed for our souls and for our physical bodies.
I absolutely love what is found within this portion of Scripture, for what we find and what we read when considering this passage of Scripture is Jesus inviting the apostles into a quiet and solitary place where they might be able to find and experience rest for and rest unto themselves. What makes this narrative all the more astonishing and intriguing is when you think about the fact that what Jesus offered the apostles was to get away and get apart together with Him that they might experience rest. Perhaps one of the most astonishing truths surrounding this passage of Scripture is when you think about and consider the fact that even when Jesus and His apostles got themselves away unto a solitary place that they might find and experience rest it is very possible that they did not have food with them. What we find within this passage of Scripture is Jesus inviting the disciples to get away and get apart with Him that they might experience rest, and yet John Mark adds something that is quite unique to this narrative of the rest of the apostles. Immediately following Jesus inviting the disciples to come apart into a desert place with Him that they might rest a while John Mark writes how there were so many coming and going that they didn’t even have any leisure to eat. He would then go on to write how they departed into a desert place by ship privately, but how the people saw them departing, and how many who knew Him ran afoot out of all the cities and outwent them and came together in that place where Jesus and the disciples would have journeyed to. Imagine the scene unfolding as Jesus and the apostles departed by ship privately that they might go unto a solitary and quiet place that they might find rest for themselves, and yet as they approached the place they would rest they were met with a great crowd of people who were already there eagerly waiting for Jesus. I could imagine the apostles being somewhat frustrated seeing the tremendous crowds of people as they might very well have been looking forward to experiencing rest, quietness, and just being alone with the person of Jesus Christ. Instead of coming unto that private and solitary place, however, they would be met with a great crowd of people who would be eager to hear and listen to the words of Jesus.
The narrative within this passage describes how Jesus—when He had stepped out of the boat and saw the crowd and multitude of people—was moved with compassion, for He saw them as sheep which did not have a shepherd. It is this language of sheep without a shepherd that causes us to think back to the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms when we not only read of the LORD being our shepherd, but we also read of the LORD leading us beside still waters, and making us to lie down in green pastures. The text reveals that Jesus not only had compassion on them, but also saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Moreover, the text goes on to reveal how Jesus would teach them many things in that place which was to be a quiet place of rest and refreshment for the apostles. What’s more, is that as you continue reading the words found in this passage you will find that the crowd and multitude of people had spent all day together with Jesus and the apostles listening to the words which He would teach and speak unto them, and the disciples would come unto Him stating that the place they were in was a desert place and that the day was far spent. The disciples would have had Jesus send the crowd away that they might fend for themselves and buy meat and bread, however, Jesus was unwilling to send the crowds away. What’s more, is that not only was Jesus unwilling to send the crowds away, but Jesus would also feed the crowds and multitude which had not only gathered themselves unto Him, but had also tarried with Him all day and listened to the many wonderful things He taught them. What’s more, is that when you read this passage you will not only find Jesus asking the disciples what they had among themselves for food, but Jesus would also have the disciples make the people sit down in groups and ranks by fifties and hundreds. In one gospel narrative it actually reads how there was much grass in the area where they were, which is quite telling when you consider the words of David concerning the LORD as our shepherd causing us to lie down in green pastures.
There is this language of rest, there is this language of the Lord being our shepherd, there is this language of the Lord teaching us, there is this language of the Lord realizing and recognizing we are sheep, and there is this language in the test of the Lord offering and providing rest—not only for the apostles, but also rest for the people and multitude which had gathered themselves before and unto Jesus. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words how the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact have the crowd and multitudes sit down in the grass in groups of hundreds and fifties, and how at the end of this portion of Scripture we read how this number of men and women totaled five thousand people. Initially Jesus would enter into a ship privately with His twelve apostles that they might go unto a solitary place whereby they might experience rest for their physical bodies, rest for their souls, and rest for their minds, however, in that place would actually be anything but rest. Instead of finding rest in that place the disciples and Jesus would meet and encounter a great crowd of people that would gather themselves in that place that they might hear and listen to Jesus. I would dare say that in that place the disciples themselves would be able to experience a certain degree and measure of rest, for it would be in that place the disciples and the apostles would perhaps sit down and both hear and listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speak and teach unto them many things. For most of this day—not only would the disciples experience a certain degree and measure of rest as they would hear and listen to Jesus teach many things, but so also would all those people who gathered themselves unto Jesus experience rest as they too would hear and listen to the words which Jesus spoke. These people—this great crowd of men and women which totaled five thousand—would spend the entire day in the presence of Jesus hearing and listening to Him teach, and during that time they would not even think to eat in that place. By the time the day was far spent the disciples and apostles would speak unto Jesus about sending the crowd away that they might tend and care for themselves in purchasing food, bread and meat to sustain themselves.
What I so love about this particular narrative is how in the thirty-first verse of this chapter we find John Mark writing how the apostles did not have leisure so much as to eat, and yet when the day was far spent and they attempted to send the crowd away, Jesus would instruct and invite the disciples to give them to eat. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that in the thirty-first verse we find Mark writing how the apostles and Jesus did not have leisure so much as to eat, and in the thirty-seventh verse we find Jesus instructing them to give food to five thousand men, women and children. Stop and think about the tremendous significance of what is found in this passage of Scripture, for Jesus would instruct the apostles to give to this multitude of five thousand something to eat when they themselves did not even have time to eat. I am sure that just as much as this group and multitude of five thousand was hungry having not eaten anything, so also were the disciples themselves hungry. WE know from the text that Jesus would instruct the disciples to find out what they had present among the crowd, and they would report back to Him how there were five loaves of bread and two fish. It would be upon hearing this Jesus would not only realize that these five loaves of bread and two fish were enough, but He would also have the crowd and multitude sit down in the grass in groups and ranks of fifties and hundreds. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that Jesus would instruct the disciples to have and make the crowd sit down in the grass in groups and ranks of fifties and hundreds, and would then take the five loaves of bread and two fish, and after blessing and breaking it, He would distribute it to the disciples to give unto the crowd and the multitude.
The more I read and consider the words which are found in this portion of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that here in this passage there is the language of the shepherd who was not only willing to provide rest for His apostles, but was also willing to teach and feed this great multitude of people which had gathered themselves unto Jesus. For much of the day Jesus taught these people and fed them spiritually with the words which He taught, and by the time the day was far spent Jesus would then feed them physically, as well as provide for them rest. If there is one thing I find so incredibly unique about this passage of Scripture it’s that John Mark writes how the apostles did not have leisure so much as to eat, and yet when the day was far spent and the disciples would have sent the crowd away to buy food for themselves, Jesus would instruct them to give to the people something to eat. How do you give unto others what you yourself haven’t received? How do you give unto others what you yourself don’t even have? The disciples realized and recognized that the people hadn’t eaten all day, and I am sure that they themselves hadn’t eat all day, and now the day was far spent. It would be in that place of the day being far spent and the disciples having had nothing to eat Jesus would instruct them to give unto the people that which they would eat. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how incredibly important this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for when Jesus instruct the disciples to give unto the multitude something to eat He was doing so in the place of the disciples having themselves had nothing to eat, and the people themselves having had nothing to eat. In a sense it almost seems contradictory when you read this passage, for in verses thirty and thirty-one we find Jesus inviting the disciples to come away with Him into a solitary place to rest, as well as the disciples having not had leisure so much as to eat. It would be there in that place of having not had anything to eat and also having spent all day with the multitude Jesus would indeed and would in fact instruct them to give unto this multitude something to eat.
I sit here today thinking about the words in this passage and I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that it would be there in that place where Jesus would not only feed the multitude of five thousand people, but I would also argue and contend that Jesus would feed the disciples as well. I do not believe for one moment the disciples themselves simply distributed the fragments of the loaves of bread and the fragments of the fishes unto the crowd and multitude and themselves didn’t have anything to eat. I am absolutely and completely convinced that it would be here in this place where Jesus would not only feed the multitude of people, but Jesus would also feed the disciples themselves. It would be there in that place we find the disciples distributing the fragments of the loaves of bread and the fragments of the fishes which were offered unto Jesus, and it would be in that place where there would be twelve baskets filled with the leftover fragments of bread. Do you mean to tell me that Jesus was able to feed the five thousand which were present on that day, as well as have enough for twelve baskets to be filled with the leftovers, and neither He, nor the disciples ate anything? It is something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this passage that the disciples themselves did not have leisure to eat, and yet in the midst of the crowd and multitude that would gather themselves together unto Jesus would be the means to not only feed the multitude, but also the disciples themselves. It is quite interesting that there in that place there would be one among them who would indeed and would in fact bring and have with him the means to feed the five thousand, as well as themselves. What’s more, is that Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear with what happened with the twelve baskets of the fragments that were left over. Where did those twelve baskets which were each filled with the fragments of the leftover fish and bread go? Were they given unto that one who had offered his lunch that Jesus might use it to work a miracle? Were those twelve baskets given unto the twelve disciples that they might each have a basket filled with food that they themselves might eat? Is it possible that after the five thousand were fed there were twelve baskets left over that each of the twelve disciples might have enough food eat and fill themselves?
It is something worth thinking about and considering when you read the words found in this portion of Scripture how the disciples themselves were invited to get away alone with Jesus that they might be able to experience rest for their souls and rest for their physical bodies, and yet it would be in that place of rest where they would not only be instructed by the Master to give unto others to eat, but where they would also be enlisted to partner together with the Lord Jesus Christ in the miracle of feeding the five thousand. The more I think about and consider the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the truly awesome and powerful truth that the disciples themselves did not have any time to feed themselves, and yet when this miracle was over—not only was the entire crowd of five thousand fed and filled, but there were also twelve baskets filled with leftovers. I cannot help but wonder what happened to those twelve baskets of the fragments of the loaves of bread and the fish, and whether or not the young lad who had willingly and deliberately given up his lunch brought them home with him, or whether those baskets were given unto the twelve disciples providing them with enough food to feed themselves. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that the disciples did not have leisure enough to eat, and how when faced with the five thousand men and women they were instructed by the Lord Jesus to feed the multitude and give them to eat. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the disciples themselves were instructed to feed the multitude there in that open place which had much grass before they would actually feed themselves. Is it possible that the disciples were required and invited by the Master to participate in this miracle of feeding the five thousand men and women who were present on this day. Here in this private and solitary place the disciples themselves were invited to participate in the miracle of feeding the five thousand, and were invited by the Lord Jesus to engage themselves in the miracle of feeding the five thousand souls which were present on this particular day.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found in this passage of Scripture, for what we read and what we find here is a powerful picture of the disciples being invited into a place to find rest for themselves, and yet there in that place they would be invited by the Lord Jesus to first cause the people to sit down in the midst of the grass which was present in that place, and secondly to distribute the fragments of the loaves of bread and the fish which were given unto them by the Master’s hands. There in that place we find the shepherd not only feeding the hearts, souls and spirits of those which were present, but we also find the Shepherd feeding the physical bodies. It would be here in this place where Jesus would indeed have the sheep sit down in green pastures, and it would be in that place of green pastures He would feed them—and not only feed them spiritually but feed them physically. It would be there in that place where Jesus would as the great Shepherd make them to sit down in green pastures, would teach them many things, and would also provide physical food. It would be there in that desert place when the day was far spent that Jesus would as the great Shepherd provide rest, teaching and food for all those who had come unto Him—all those who heard of Him and all those who knew about Him and ran ahead of Him. It would be there in that wide open place with much grass that the Lord Jesus would—as the great Shepherd—provide food for five thousand men, women and children. Not only this, but I would also strongly suggest that Jesus provided food and rest for the apostles as well. It is truly something astonishing and worth thinking about when reading this passage of Scripture that Jesus would indeed provide food and rest for both the disciples, as well as the five thousand individuals who gathered themselves unto Him.
I have to admit that the more I read the words which are found in this passage the more I can’t help but think that not only did Jesus provide food enough for five thousand souls which had gathered themselves unto Him, but Jesus would also provide food for the twelve disciples and apostles. There is not a doubt in my mind that during this time the disciples and apostles would also themselves experience the miracle of the loaves and bread, and would themselves be fed by Jesus the Christ there in this particular place. In fact, we know that the miracle of feeding the five thousand was intended for more than just the five thousand, and for more than simply on this particular occasion, for even when we continue to read of the disciples being astonished when Jesus entered into the ship after coming unto them walking on the water in the midst of the storm it was written that they did not consider the miracle of the five loaves of bread and the two fish. There was something worth thinking about and there was something worth considering when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that on this particular occasion Jesus would indeed looking upon this great multitude of people as sheep without a shepherd and would be unto and for them a shephered—not only a shepherd who would make them to sit down in green pastures, but also a shepherd who would feed them with loaves of bread and fish. It was true that Jesus was in fact the bread which came down from heaven which men could indeed and could in fact feast upon, but it was also true that just as the living God had fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, so also would Jesus feed the five thousand men and women in this place with loaves of bread and fish. Oh how absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider this awesome and powerful truth, for it would be in this particular place where just as the Father would provide manna in the wilderness every day for six days a week over a period of forty years, so also would the Lord Jesus provide bread and fish for all those who were present on this particular occasion.
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words and language that is contained in this passage of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to the unbelievable and awesome reality that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact be the great shepherd for and unto these five thousand people who would not only hear and listen to Jesus teach them all day, but would also be a shepherd who would at the end of that day feed them with loaves of bread and fish. What’s more, is that so thorough and so complete was this miracle of feeding the five thousand that not only were they all filled to the fullest, but there were also twelve baskets that were filled with the leftover fragments of the miracle. Pause for a moment and think about the sheer magnitude of this miracle and how not only were five thousand men, women and children fed from five loaves of bread and two fish, but there were also twelve baskets which were each filled with the fragments of the leftovers. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely tremendous and incredible this truly is, for within this text and passage we encounter Jesus who as the shepherd causes men and women to find rest in green pastures, and also feeds and sustains them. How truly wonderful and powerful this narrative is—not only when you consider the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms, but also the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, as well as the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. We must needs pay careful and close attention to the words which are found within each of these passages, for these passages call and draw our attention to the Lord as our shepherd, and as the Lord who is not only compassionate toward us, but also who is ready, willing, and able to take care of us, and who is willing to provide rest for our physical bodies and souls, as well as food for our spirits and our physical bodies. With this in mind I leave you with the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel:
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness, and ever disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? YE eat the fat, and ye dclothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Ezekiel 34:1-6).
“Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, saith the LORD God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:7-10).
“For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the LORD God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was riven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I just between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:11-19).
“Therefore thus saith the LORD God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing, and the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD< when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the LORD God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD” (Ezekiel 34:20-31).