150726 Mark 6:30-34

Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2015 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Mark 6:30-34
Theme: A Good Time To Get Some Rest

What a week! It was the kind of week that makes you forget about the cold and wind and ice and snow that we expect to experience in another month that starts with "J" in Wisconsin. On Channel 4 meteorologist Brian Gotter usually makes a prediction for his "pick day" of the week, but this past week it would have been difficult to pick just one day because every day was beautiful.

Because July is usually warm and sunny, this is also the time when lots of people schedule summer vacations. That is why Pastor Schmidt isn't here this morning. He is at a family reunion in Minnesota. Maybe you were fortunate enough to have this past week off so you could get outside and enjoy the nice weather. But even if you weren't, even if you had to work, even if you were stuck behind a desk, the good news is that the forecast looks almost as good for the week that begins today.

Having time to enjoy God's creation is a blessing. Taking time away from our busy schedules is important too. Studies show that vacations make people happier and more productive, and they might even prolong your life. And so if you are one of those people who leaves vacation days unused, if you feel guilty about taking time off, don't! And if you don't want to listen to me, listen to Jesus.

The Lord understood the importance of work, and his work was the most important work on earth, but he also recognized the benefits of rest, for himself and for his followers. He wants people to get the rest we need for our bodies. He wants us to get the spiritual rest we need for our souls. And he doesn't want us to wait. He wants us to start now because today is...

A GOOD TIME TO GET SOME REST

The disciples could hardly contain their excitement when they returned from their mini-mission trips. Jesus had sent them out two by two to preach and teach and heal in his name, and they did. They drove out demons. They made sick people well. They proclaimed a message of repentance. Like students coming back to the seminary after their vicar year, the twelve disciples had experienced so many amazing things, and they wanted Jesus to hear every detail.

Can you imagine the commotion? Can you imagine thirteen excited people talking to each other and talking over each other in a crowded room? Now add to that mix more people, crowds of people, so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples couldn't get away for a few minutes to get something to eat. As the hours went by, and as the adrenaline started to wear off, they got tired, very tired.

Maybe Jesus could see the fatigue in the disciples' eyes. Maybe he knew how they were feeling because as true God he knows everything. Their work had been rewarding, but it had also been draining. They couldn't keep up the pace. They needed a break, and so Jesus said to them: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (31). Isn't that just like Jesus? The One who came to earth to meet our greatest need is acutely aware of all of our other needs. And sometimes what we need more than anything else is time to rest.

I think it's safe to say that most of the sermons preached from this pulpit are spiritually substantial. When I preach it is not my goal to give spiritual pep talks or self-help seminars. I want every sermon to clearly present the twin pillar teachings of the Bible. The Law = you are a sinner who needs a Savior. The Gospel = you have a Savior who has taken away your sins. Good Lutheran sermons will always be law/gospel sermons.

But in this text Jesus communicates another truth that is very simple and very practical. Human beings need to rest. It isn't a sign of weakness. It isn't shirking our responsibilities. It is the way God made us. And because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit God expects us to take care of them.

I can remember a time in my ministry when I was counseling with a young couple. After they explained the situation and we discussed the issues, I recommended that a good place to start would be to get a good night's sleep. It wasn't exactly the most spiritual advice, but from my perspective those two people were a lot like the disciples. They were so worn out by the busyness of their lives that they would get upset and irritated with each other about the smallest things. In my opinion, they didn't need professional counseling. They simply needed some rest.

Can you relate? Are you always on the go? Have you forgotten what it feels like to relax? Do you need Jesus to interrupt your busy life and put you into a boat and take you away from all the distractions so that you can open up your Bible and be reminded of what is truly important, so that you can develop a deeper relationship with your Savior, so you can marvel at his amazing invitation? "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Not just physical rest for the body. Spiritual rest for the soul.

Thanks to Jesus the disciples were able to get some much needed rest, but what the Lord provided for others proved to be much more difficult for him to find for himself. As soon as they launched the boat from shore "many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them" (33).

Jesus was faced with a difficult decision. He had just impressed upon his disciples the importance of rest. Jesus was a human being with a human body, and so he needed to rest. And he looked forward to this time alone with disciples so he could teach them and encourage them and prepare them for the day when he would no longer be with them.

But then he looked beyond his disciples and saw the people, crowds of people, people who had walked for miles just so they could get a glimpse of him. What was Jesus to do? Withdraw into the mountains with his disciples, or go out to meet the thousands of people who had come to see him?

If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, what would you do? Or to make that question a little more relatable, how would you feel if you were asked to cut your vacation short? Would you try to be understanding, or would you start pouting? Would you be all smiles, or would there be a look of disappointment, maybe even a hint of resentment, on your face?

For Jesus, the choice was easy. "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" (34). It was nothing for the One who had come to sacrifice his life for the world to make this much smaller sacrifice. He needed to rest, but these wandering sheep needed him more. They needed protection. They needed direction. And so Jesus went out to them and began teaching them many things.

"Many things." That phrase is just as generic in Greek as it is in English. "Many things" is a pretty big umbrella. We could make some educated guesses about exactly what things Jesus taught the people that day, but instead I would like to focus on the verb Mark chose to describe Jesus when he saw them. We are told that Jesus "had compassion on them."

"Compassion" was a frequently recurring theme in Jesus' parables. The Good Samaritan had compassion on the Jewish man who was dying on the road. The forgiving father was filled with compassion when he saw his prodigal son in the distance. The king had compassion on his servant when he forgave his servant's debt.

But as much as the Lord teaches us about compassion in the gospels, he modeled it even more. Jesus had compassion on the widow before he raised her dead son back to life. Jesus had compassion on two blind men before he restored their sight. The Lord had compassion on a boy with an evil spirit and a man with leprosy, and he is filled with the same loving care and concern when he looks at you.

Do you understand how amazing that is? Do you realize what a miracle that is? The sight of sinful human beings should elicit strong feelings, even a visceral reaction, from sinless, righteous, holy God. But the predominant emotion should be the opposite of compassion.

Think of all the times in your life when you were so busy that you were too busy for God. Think of the times when you used your busyness as an excuse for what was really spiritual laziness. If you and I can be so cavalier about our relationship with God, why should God care about us? He shouldn't care about us. He should be disgusted with us. He should be angry with us. He should be so filled with contempt for us that he can't even look at us.

But God does look at us, and when he looks though the filter of divine compassion he sees sheep who love to wander. He sees sheep who get themselves into all kinds of trouble. He sees sheep who are vulnerable. He sees sheep who need a shepherd.

And so God gave us one. God the Father loves us so much that he gave us his one and only Son. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks out the straying sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who sacrificed his life on the cross to save the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will not rest until every last sheep is brought into the fold.

It's a beautiful picture, isn't it? Maybe you noticed the same imagery this morning in all the Scripture lessons, in Numbers, in Hebrews and in the familiar words of Psalm 23. The Lord is your Shepherd, and because he is you don't have to be anxious. You don't have to worry. You don't need to be afraid. You have forgiveness. You have hope. You have peace. You can rest. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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