The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
Review | Reported | Recharge | Recognized | Reconsidered | Rally
This gospel is about personal restoration and sometimes working extra even when you are tired, because it is required. Because we don’t have control when opportunities arise and it is important that we step up to take advantage of them.
Just before this reading, we had Jesus sending out his disciples in pairs (see my last post – “The Buddy System”) to proclaim Jesus’ message to nearby cities. After having gone out to these cities, the 12 disciples came back to where Jesus was – feeling pretty good about themselves, I would imagine.
Think about it – Jesus had just given them a task to go out and teach. They had done what he had said and had their own news to report. Imagine being able to come back to Jesus and say things like:
- “There were many people who believed your message in Cana!”
- “We were able to heal a person with a broken leg is Capernum!”
- “People welcomed us into their home in Tiberias!”
Just like a mother would be proud if she asked her child to do something difficult, Jesus was proud of his disciples and wanted to hear what they had accomplished. Similarly, right now I’m on vacation from being in my office. When I get back to the office, I want to know what my employees have done. And if they have done good work – they will report to me of their accomplishments.
This about this in your life – when you complete a project – does it make you proud? Don’t you feel good that you accomplished something? It should. But if was hard work, you often want to rest once you are done.
After reporting to Jesus all they had accomplished, all they had done, and completing the long trips to these cities and back, I imagine all of the disciples wanted to take a deep breath and relax for a bit. They wanted to rest to have their energy restored.
God told us early on in Genesis that we should do this as well. He tells us to only work 6 days a week and then rest on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the day that he wants us to restore ourselves and also to think about Him. But rest isn’t solely limited to the Sabbath. Sometimes after working really hard to accomplish a goal, we need rest to recharge our batteries. Jesus knew this as well.
To get away, Jesus and his disciples decided to take a boat ride to “a deserted place”. They thought this would be a vacation away from it all. But no. The people who heard Jesus wanted to hear more. I imagine that many of the people the disciples had visited in the far away cities wanted to see who this “master” the disciples had been talking about was. So even as they got to their place of rest, lots of people found out where Jesus was and wanted to hear more.
When Jesus saw these “vast crowd”, he reconsidered his and his disciples need for rest. The gospel says “they were like sheep without a shepherd”. Jesus saw they needed his message more than he needed rest. Even if he was tired, he saw had work to do.
For the last 10 years of his life, every email that my own father would send me ended with a quote from a book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. The quote was:
“Opportunities Multiple As They are Seized”
Jesus knew that this vast crowd – thousands of people, the gospels tell us – had hearts that needed to hear his teaching. This was a great opportunity. It wouldn’t have been wrong for Jesus and the disciples to rest at this time, but Jesus took the role of being a servant leader. Instead of wasting the opportunity and thinking only of his and his disciples need for rest, Jesus rallied his energy and made the decision to teach people who needed it. This helped spread the gospel to allow many people to believe more in him.
This is exactly what Jesus shows us in terms of being a servant leader. Many times it is easy to say we need a break or we have already done enough. When God opens up opportunities to serve others, we should rally our energies to the task. By serving people, we help bring God’s kingdom here on earth a little closer.