Jesus had recently sent the disciples out to commence preaching the word of God, healing the sick and casting out demons among the people in the surrounding villages. On their return they were telling him of all the things they had done and taught.
But they were rushed and harried as the people were constantly milling about and seeking the Lord’s help and that of the disciples too. They had no time to rest and no leisure time, even to spare a few minutes to eat. Jesus aware of this, and to prevent them burning out, took the disciples aside saying, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest for a while.” (Verse 31)
There is a valuable lesson for all of us in these few words. It is a well established fact that if we work continually we get worn down. Nobody does their best work when all they do is work. The old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is true. We need rest. We need time to recuperate and refresh both body and mind. We need to get away into the wilderness, literally or figuratively, and do something different to our work from time to time to recharge our batteries.
The Lord was showing this to the disciples. Even those who work for God are permitted to take a break. It is no sin to have a holiday or a rest from the Lord’s work from time to time, especially when things get hectic. If we are to do our best work, whether for the Lord or for man, we need to have a break.
And this is not a new principle as it is the basis of one of the Ten Commandments. It was stated that man was to work six days and then rest on the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8-11) The day of rest was to be put aside under the law for learning the teachings and worship of God. But as Jesus showed us, the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) The Sabbath was given so that man would have a day of rest to recharge. There was to be no physical work done on the Sabbath so that weary bones and muscles could rejuvenate. The principle of rest on the Sabbath for the purpose of being refreshed was shown by God to Moses saying, “…in six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:17)
The Lord showed that by resting this one day each week would give us refreshment of body and spirit. He says elsewhere that the overall output, or productivity as we would call it today, would be improved by taking a day of rest, so that they would produce as much or more than if they had worked seven days.
We should remember these principles. The Lord does not expect us to work all of the time. He took the disciples apart so they could rest and recuperate. We too need rest so that we can function properly and do the work we have to do, and by taking a rest we will do it better.
(Photo sourced from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/825730 uploaded by gundolf)