The winter time is extremely hectic. A million things need to be done, and all of them need to be done yesterday. When I was working solely with the youth, a lot of people assumed that my busiest time was during the winter. Which there was a lot to do during the winter, don’t get me wrong, but the busiest time, was actually during the summer. All of winter is to gear up for our summer activities. 1/2 Nighters, week long trips, making time to hang out with teens. At the height of our summer schedule, I usually spent about 110 hours with teens in one week. And that one week is stressful, and at the end of it, I don’t want to see another teen. And then the next day, I see them at church.
By the time August rolls around, I’m tired. That’s why we usually take our vacation afterwards. Which is a whole ‘nother type of stress.
So there are those stressful times, but then there are those wonderful replenishing times. You finally get to get away for the weekend, or you finally get sometime to yourself. You finally get to work on that hobby you’ve been waiting for. The pastor finally preaches a good sermon. And you feel like you can take on anything after that time of refreshment.
Personally, one of the best getaways should have been the most stressful for me. I had to finish up my ordination back in November, which meant a two hour plus interview. If I failed the interview, I wouldn’t have taken it well. But I passed, the kids were great, and the whole thing turned into a spiritual mountain top for me. I was replenished and came back full of energy.
That’s where we’re at in the Gospel of Mark today. We’re coming to a spiritual mountain top for the disciples. So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to pick up from last week in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, starting in verse 30.
And as you open your Bibles up, let’s recap from last week. Up to this point in the Gospel of Mark, we have seen Jesus’ first two phases of ministry. The first phase was Jesus displaying his authority. He spoke in a way that showed he had authority over the word of God. He healed people and calmed storms to show his authority over the physical realm. He cast out and silenced demons to show his authority over the the spiritual realm. All that to prove that he was God come to earth.
The second phase was preparing his disciples to go out in his authority and do the things he did. To preach, to teach, to heal, and to cast out demons. And then he sent them out. That’s Mark chapter 1 thru chapter 6 verse 13.
Then last week we talked about the odd section of verses, that seemed to come out of nowhere. We went from Jesus and his disciples, to this king named Herod killing a prophet named John. And we discovered how the passage wasn't’ so out of place, but rather it was the Holy Spirit speaking through the writer Mark, to show us that there were people around Jesus’ time who were completely missing the point. And we asked the question are we missing the point today? Are we, like Herod, missing the person and the work of Jesus in our own lives? And I challenged you to go before God, and ask a simple question, what am I missing. I also gave you three areas that your could ask about: locally, nationally, and internationally.
But this brings us to today and the return of the disciples to Jesus. Let’s pick this up in verse 30 of Mark chapter 6.
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.
Now I love this. The disciples come back to Jesus and they’re excited. They’re sharing with Jesus all that they have done. And Jesus’ reaction shows that he wants to hear all about it. He tells them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
And I can just picture this whole interaction.
“Jesus, Jesus we have all these things to tell you. John said this, and Peter healed that person, and Andrew, and Matthew and, and, and…”
And Jesus responds, “That’s great guys, let’s get out of this place, and you can tell me all about it.”
So they go off on a boat, headed for a place to just get away. But a nice quiet solitary place wasn’t a head of them. Let’s pick up in verse 33.
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.”
Here’s the change of plans. Jesus wanted a little get away with his excited disciples, but that wasn’t to be. And I want us to recognize something here. Even though Jesus’ intention was to get away, the fact that those plans changed, did not interfere with his compassion towards the people. Something I haven’t mastered. And apparently at this point, neither had the disciples. They still wanted to tell Jesus about their trip. They wanted to tell him about all the amazing things that were done. They wanted some alone time with Jesus, without having the stress of dealing with the crowds.
And when their opportunity came to finally send the people away, they took it. And then Jesus turn the tables on them. He says this in verses 37,
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
And here’s what would be going through my mind. “Us? Weren’t we supposed to take a little retreat? Weren’t we supposed to have a guys weekend? And now we’re just letting anyone come along?” And you can tell the frustration they have with Jesus, because this is how they respond.
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?”
Oh no, did you see what just happened? Did you see what Jesus challenged them with, and how they responded? Did you see the connection with Herod in these two sentences? Listen to that again, “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?’”
For the past almost two years, Jesus had been showing the disciples miracle after miracle. In the last year, he had specifically called these twelve to be taught deeper things, so that they would go out in Jesus’ authority and do as he had done. They came back full of excitement about all that they had experienced. But when the stress of the work of God interfered with what they had planned. All of what they should have discovered was out the door.
People need food, Jesus said you feed them. That’s a challenge. It’s almost like Jesus was saying, “Take what you learned and apply it here.” At that moment, all their spiritual victories evaporated. And their response was, “we’re not spending our money on these people.”
But this is us right? We have the tendency to do the same thing. We can have these spiritual mountain top experiences, where everything is possible, and then when we get back to our lives, things all of a sudden become too hard. It’s too hard to hear God, it’s to hard to know what he wants, I don’t have the resources, or the resources I do have, I don’t want to use.
But why? Why do we so easily fall into this mind set of not being able to respond as Jesus desires us to respond?
Could it be that the disciples were so focused on spending time with Jesus, that they missed out on spending time with Jesus? Think about this. They got on the boat and spent at least a few hours crossing the lake with Jesus. Then they got out and God’s work called. So Jesus started to do what he came to do. But what about the disciples? They’re focus was on getting rid of the people. Why? So they could spend alone time with Jesus?
Now we might say, well they do need to spend time with Jesus. They need to be refreshed. And we might even say, Jeremiah, wasn’t it you who back in Mark chapter 1 verses 35-39, talked about how we need to have time alone with God.
And to that I say, yes, but the disciples did have time with God. They had time with Jesus in the boat. Did they want more? Yes! Did Jesus want more? Yes! Should we want more? Yes!But we need to learn something that the disciple missed. We need to learn to take the opportunities alone with Jesus both purposely and when they come along. Because God has work that needs to be done.
And this is how we can know if we are are not taking time to have these mini-refreshments with God: Jesus responded with compassion, while the disciples responded with contempt. Jesus ministered to the people, while the disciples looked to get rid of them.
And the result of the disciples inability to be refreshed by that small amount of time with Jesus, was that they missed an opportunity to participate in his work. And that can happen to us too. When we miss the mini-refreshment with Jesus, we miss the opportunity to participate in the work he is doing. When we get upset that our quiet time is disturbed are we upset that we missed out, or are we upset because we were interrupted? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re more upset that we were interrupted.
This whole interaction ends like this starting in verse 38.
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.
God calls us to have solitary time with him. Why? So that we may be refreshed. But here’s the thing, sometimes God’s work comes calling and we have to be ready for it. How do we get ready? We take advantage of the mini-refreshments that come along. Why do we think that in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says, “Pray continually.”?
We need to get to a point in our spiritual lives where we have both the intentional solitary time with God, where we can enjoy him without interruption, and be able to take advantage of the mini-refreshments that come along. Because if we make our uninterrupted time rigid, then when it does get interrupted by God’s work, we will miss out.
This is my challenge for you this week: Write down three places that have potential to be mini-refreshments. Driving in the car, taking a shower, right before a phone call. Whatever is in your life that has the potential to be a mini-refreshment. Then the next time you come to that potential, take it.
Have this attitude: I want to be ready for the work God has for me today. Because who knows, God might call on you right after you read this, or when you leave your house, or when you go out to lunch. But you must be ready. Take advantage of the mini-refreshments that God brings into your life. And let’s start now.
May God lead you into times of refreshment through out your day, so that you can be used for the work he has for you. Amen.