Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Come ye yourselves apart ... and rest awhile (Mark 6:31)

"Come ye yourselves apart ... and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31)

WHAT loving consideration for his disciples is suggested by these words of Jesus! They had been engaged in the work of the Gospel - preaching, teaching and healing - and had returned to the Lord to tell him of their experiences. But "there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat". So Jesus suggested they should go elsewhere to seek quietude and rest.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven", says the Preacher. Rest and recreation (i.e., re-creation) are essential to human well-being, whether on the physical or spiritual plane, and Jesus taught his disciples a very practical lesson in this respect in the incident recorded by Mark.

"Come ye apart and rest awhile! "Christ's advice is perhaps more needed to-day than ever before. The world is too much with us: it is well-nigh impossible to escape its insistent influence or find a quiet retreat free from its fret and turmoil. Many of us seek relief on holiday; but even in the solitude of the hills or in the wide expanse of the moors, the ubiquitous aeroplane intrudes, shattering the sense of seclusion and linking us again with man's unceasing endeavour to subjugate the physical universe.

How, then, can we come apart and rest awhile? There is no quietness or peace associated with the human world around us: stress, anxiety, clamour and warfare are its characteristics: we seek in vain in that direction. But one of old confidently tells us of a source of peace which he had discovered:

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 (Psa. 23:1-3).

Here then is what we desire and seek: pleasant pastures, the waters of quietness, and refreshment for the soul: sought out and made accessible to us by the Shepherd of Israel. And does not His Son reveal similar consolation? Jesus, the good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep, invites us: "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 me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28).
Shepherds Crag
Shepherds Crag (Photo credit: Mikey Bean)

Rest unto our souls! That is our greatest need to-day and our most fervent longing: to be free from the anxiety which so easily possesses us; to banish the sense of unrest which so frequently consumes us; to secure that contentment of spirit which so readily evades us, and which only confidence in God can inspire. If we are to secure this rest unto our souls, we must learn of Christ: and when we are truly his disciples, he takes us apart unto a desert place - far from the crowded haunts of human life - and we rest awhile with him, forgetting in his serene presence the cares and anxieties of life, and the interminable struggle of flesh and spirit; so are we strengthened for further endeavour.

Each first day of the week we are granted in a very special sense the privilege of spiritual re-creation. Christ may be "known of us in breaking of bread", as he was to the disciples of old. It is essential, however, that we should come apart from the world with its restless comings and goings, and seek to find him who has promised to be with us when we are gathered together in his name. This is no easy thing to accomplish, for we are very definitely still in the flesh, and liable to be too readily influenced by the merely human aspects of the memorial service; often we determine its success or failure by the word of exhortation. Let us remember, however, that the essential feature of the memorial service is the breaking of bread: that alone is commanded; all else is subservient to it. In that ordinance we remember Christ, learn of him, and so find rest unto our souls.

Brother F.W. Turner
Meditations - Chapter 7 - Rest Unto Our Souls

2013 update:

And Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
As you* are going, make disciples of all the nations, immersing* them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:teaching them to observe all things whatever I commanded you* and behold, I am with you* all the days until the end of the world.
 Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20 MLV)

And he gave some to be apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, shepherds and teachers.These were done *for the equipping of the holy-ones, *for the work of the ministry, *for the building up of the body of Christ,until we all arrive to the oneness of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,in order that we may no longer be infants, tossed to and fro and carried around with every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;but be truthful with love*. We may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, who is Christ;from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through what every joint supplies, according to the working in due measure of each individual part, that makes the growth of the body to the building up of itself in love*.

(Ephesians 4:11-16 MLV)

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