You may recognize this heading as taken from the Scriptures. Maybe you even recall that it is part of Jesus’ summons to His disciples. In its entirety it reads, (Mark 16:31): “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
The immediate occasion for this summons was that Jesus was at the height of His popularity in Galilee. The people had watched with amazement as He healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. They had decided that He would make an ideal king to deliver them from the Roman yoke and to create a Great Society for them right here on earth. They fairly burst with enthusiasm as they daily swarmed round about Him in hope and admiration. The disciples were so pressed by this throng that they barely found time to take a bite to eat. It was high time that they got away by themselves to catch their breath, if nothing more.
Reading the verse that just precedes this text we find that there was still another occasion for this summons. The disciples themselves were pent up with excited enthusiasm. They had just returned from a tour through Galilee. Jesus had sent them out to preach repentance to the people, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Christ had even empowered them to heal the sick and to cast out devils. At their word many had been cured, even devils had fled. Exhausted, but convinced that the kingdom of heaven was certainly very near, they were eager to tell the Lord of all their experiences. Obviously, they, too, were still looking for an earthly kingdom. How sorely they needed time for quiet reflection; time by themselves, and still more necessary, time with their Master.
And then a deeper look at the entire context, and comparing this with. Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:13), tells us that Jesus had a still greater motive in drawing His disciples apart in a quiet retreat by Himself. He had just been informed of the ghastly death of John the Baptist under the cruel blade of King Herod, because of the bitter hatred of Herod’s illegal wife. They that kill. the prophets and stone those who are sent unto them were again busy, and would soon unite their forces against the Lord Himself. How well He knew it! Once more the cross loomed up, larger and darker than ever. How blissfully ignorant the disciples were of the fact that their Lord must first ascend the accursed tree before He could enter into His kingdom. How much they still had to learn. How necessary it was for Jesus to draw the “twelve” apart for some more instruction.
Come ye apart and rest a while.
Yes, we have our rest areas along the highway. It does us good when traveling to break away from the rush of traffic for a breathing spell or a snack. We sit alongside the freeway and watch the cars and trucks go by. All kinds of trucks dashing toward some unknown destination. Big cars, small cars, campers, trailers, of every kind and description. Everyone rushing along at a terrific speed, intent on going somewhere, and obviously in a big hurry.
We have our coffee breaks, our rest periods, our time off, our holidays, our vacations. We have many more than in former years, but life is so much more rushed. True, even our vacations are usually so packed with activity that we come back just as tired as when we went, or more so. But we’ve had the change anyway, and the rush and tumble of our daily existence drives us onward. Whereto? We hardly have time to ask.
But how about our spiritual withdrawals?
Has the inner chamber lost its significance in our lives?
Has the coffee break with friends replaced our “sweet hour of prayer”?
Have you been so busy today that you found no time to read your Bible, to spend a few moments in intimate fellowship with God in prayer, to pour out all your busy needs before His throne? Is God forgotten in our busy schedule?
Come ye apart to God.
He tells us: Cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you.
He urges us to ferret out our problems before His face, under the guidance of His Spirit and in the light of His Word. There lies the only solution to the knottiest problems of life.
He calls us aside to Himself that He may prepare us for the trials that await us tomorrow, bigger temptations likely than we have ever faced. He is able to refresh us with renewed strength for the duties that still await us before our work is done.
And always it is so essential in our lives that we turn our myopic eyes away from the present to the future; that we lift up our eyes unto the everlasting hills, and our ears to the Most High, from whence cometh our help.
That is the purpose of this and possible future articles under this heading.
These writings are not intended to be strictly dogmatical, nor exegetical, nor meditative. They may have a flavor of each of these, and they may even have a blend of Christian living. But they intend to draw us away in the rest area, along the side of life’s rushing traffic, to watch the cars go by, and to find our seclusion in a quiet retreat. But especially to be drawn aside by ourselves with our God!
Why not open your Bible, preferably in the privacy of your home? You can do so alone or along with one most intimate to you.
You might even turn to Mark 6 and read the entire chapter, just as a starter.
But in any case, listen as you read. Listen to what the Spirit says to YOU. By all means, do so prayerfully.
That you may find rest.
Rest for your soul.