The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
(Mark 6:30-32 ESV)
Short passage today -- I hope to have the rest of the chapter up by the end of the week. The priority this week has to be the theology paper -- 12-15 pages due Friday, about the theological method of Philip Melanchthon.
And a more ironic passage I could not have used. After teh interlude where Mark tells us about what happened to John the Baptist, the disciples return from their teaching trip (verses 7-12). They tell Jesus about the things they did -- but we don't get to know. This is one of those places in teh Bible where I really wish we got more information -- what happened? Were they able to cast out demons? Were people receptive of them? Did anyone come back with them, to learn at the feet of Jesus? We don't know.
I figure that's for a good reason. The teaching that the disciples were doing didn't have the power of the resurrection behind it. They taught that the Kingdom of God was coming -- that Christ had arrived, and that He was going to establish His kingdom. Without the truth of the resurrection, though, that could have been misunderstood. We've seen examples already, and we see a great example in Acts, of people who expect Jesus to be the political Messiah they were expecting. That wasn't His goal -- He came to be the sacrifice for our sins. Without redemption, without the reconciliation between God and fallen man, the Kingdom of God cannot be established. Fallen mankind has no part of the Kingdom -- that is for the redeemed of the Lord.
I expect that there were people who became interested in Jesus, probably started paying more attention to His teachings. I wonder how many were still there after He was killed. That's probably the other reason we don't know about the results of this trip -- many were not true conversions. You've seen those if you've ever gone door-to-door on a Saturday morning.
The part of this passage that gets me the most is the last part. They've just finished some hard work -- their first, really, since they started following Christ. They're tired. They may be frustrated. So Jesus suggests a retreat.
If you've spent any time in Baptist churches, you know what a retreat is. You take a bunch of people, in the middle of summer (or fall, sometimes. I always went to the summer ones), go out to the middle of nowhere -- usually the middle of the woods, near a lake, on some property that the church owns. Bunch of cabins, a kitchen building, a chapel, and nature. Time to recharge -- physically and spiritually.
This is something that I think we tend to ignore. We're so busy doing God's work, we burn ourselves out. We end up being no good to anyone, and our other responsibilities (family, friends, etc.) tend to get ignored. We make the sacrifice -- and never even think that our loved ones never got a choice in the matter. They sacrifice, too. And sometimes, they don't like it.
We don't have to go out in the woods. All we need to do is take a time out, to take care of the other things God has given us.