Posted by: mikebackup | July 20, 2012

God each day helps you work rest and play

Mark 6:30-34

30 The apostles gathered round 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 recognised 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.

Mark 6:53-56

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognised Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried those who were ill on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went – into villages, towns or countryside – they placed those who were ill in the market-places. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed 


The opening verses (vv. 30–34) carry on the story from the mission of the twelve (Mark 6.6b–13).

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”They went out and preached that people should repent.They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

After this successful mission, we can see that the disciples wanted to gather round Jesus to tell their stories. Testimony was overflowing and just had to be shared. This sort of excited testimony is the best sort, you know you’ve worked with God to do something great and you’re buzzing with it. It’s worth remembering that you have to do something pretty challenging to get this sort of God filled buzz. What Jesus had asked his disciples to do was something they had never done before – go out with very little and do God’s work with people who may or may not be receptive to them. How many Christians do that today? Very few! We don’t do that, but I’d like us to get to the point where we could do ‘Saints on the Streets’ on a Sunday morning. The current President of the Baptist Union Chris Duffett does this every Sunday morning, hugging people, feeding and watering people, entertaining, praying and listening on the streets of Peterborough. When he came to Derby a few weeks back he did the same in Derby city centre with Ozzy Road and Littleover. Very challenging but they all came back buzzing. It doesn’t end there, as individuals and a church we can have an idea and know it will stretch us way beyond our comfort zone but know the potential testimony is massive. If you’ve not got this sort of buzz or testimony but are attracted by it, let’s talk about doing something about it.

Returning to the verses, they were quite overwhelmed with the response, with no chance even to eat. Little surprise, then, that Jesus decided to take the Twelve off to a quiet place for debriefing and rest. This is the only time in Mark’s Gospel that they are called ‘apostles’, perhaps emphasising that they were acting in their mission as authorised representatives of Jesus.

The sad thing is that they didn’t quite get to that place of quiet, the crowd is too persistent. Sometimes we too need rest but events take over and it’s denied us. The important thing is that we make every effort to get that quiet time back. We all need times of rest and relaxation, ideally every day. This is very true for me as a minister where I could work 24/7, but I have recognised that rest and family time is as important as ministry, they are both God ordained activities. We need to strike that balance and in today’s world that is very hard. Sometimes we may need to plan it in and come hell or high water stick to it. Lisa and I have our Friday afternoon date where we go out somewhere nice to eat and spend a few hours resting and being together

In wider society as great as technology is, it has sadly eaten into many people’s time of rest and relaxation. If you’re retired you may not know the stress that this is now causing people. Smartphones mean you have the office with you everywhere you go even if you’re supposed to be spending time with the family or on holiday. The phone will ring, the texts, the emails, the documents keep coming and people are expected to respond. Everyone needs to promote rest time as a way to recreate ourselves, not see it as dead time between times of work.

The second part of the passage (vv. 53–56) gives the reason for Jesus’ popularity and the rising awareness of the apostles work. The moment people spotted Jesus, they would bring out those who were ill for healing. Even healing through touching Jesus’ cloak (Mark 5.25–34) was repeated frequently (v. 56).

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

The painting ‘Pool of Bethesda’ by Edward Burra visualises the crowd that followed Jesus brilliantly.

What we read here is that the crowd was very determined and organised. It reminds us of the power of a lot of people. The flash-mob is the modern equivalent of an organised group of people and there have been many a brilliant example. The energy and the co-ordination make a massive ripple in the part of the world they’re in. As a church we’re an organised group of people and what we’re asked to do is enter our world and be a blessing. When we do it together we can make a difference that’s not the wow factor of a flash mob, but can actually make the people’s lives better and bring God’s Kingdom closer for us all.

There’s plenty to go away and reflect on from these verses:

–       To have great overflowing testimony, you’ve got to do something with God that’s going to challenge you.

–       It’s not all about work, work, work, it’s also about rest, rest, rest. Both are equal partners in God’s Kingdom

–       Being an organised crowd for God can make a real difference to the world. Christians need to lean on God and each other and then get out in the world.

Take time to reflect on the challenge here and let me know if you have ideas that you would like to pursue or ideas that you believe we can do together.

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