Come and rest

Pentecost 8 – St. Mark 6:30-44

Walmart is selling back to school merchandise.  Hobby Lobby is selling Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Christmas items.  JC Penny is beginning to rotate in the fall and winter clothing lines.

And all God’s people said: what happened to summer?

Yes, the calendar says that it is summer; the weatherman says that it is summer; and yet, everyone else has declared that summer is over.

Where did it go?

Well, there was a week of VBS, and a few weeks for harvest, and a couple more weeks for the county fair cycle, and a couple more weeks for summer baseball and swimming, and maybe you even managed to squeeze in a vacation or a trip to the lake.

Where did summer go?  Summer was here; but now it is gone; it was used up in a hundred or so activities.

And so it is on to fall, and when you consider the flood of activities right around the corner, maybe it is time to start planning for winter and spring, and yes, even next summer.

Do you like being so busy?

I know I generally do; why sit around and stare at the walls when you can be out doing something.  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop after all; if you are bored, you will get into trouble, so best to stay busy.

That is not just some old wives tale either: idle hands are more likely to go out and vandalize property; idle hands are more likely to search for internet pornography; idle hands are more likely to go out and pick a fight with another pair of idle hands; idle hands are more likely to indulge in overeating.

Best to keep those hands busy at all times.

And yet, today, Jesus tells the disciples to stop working and rest.

A most curious thing as the work the disciples are doing is not fishing or building houses, but preaching the Gospel, helping those in need, reaching out to the lost and the hurting.

If any work should not be stopped for any reason, it is this work.

And yet, Jesus calls time out, tells the disciples to leave the crowds and to come away for a while, and rest.

Hours wasted?  Most definitely.

People still hurting while disciples lounge around?  Not the greatest optics here Jesus.

How can anyone rest at a time like this?

Yet, Jesus calls the disciples to come and rest.

You could say that Jesus was ahead of His time; that Jesus knew the scientific evidences that said that people who take periodic breaks and rest are actually more productive than those who work straight through.  Or you could say that Jesus knew the science that the body needs to rest every so often to even be able to function.

Or you could even say that Jesus was encouraging the disciples to keep the Third Commandment, and take time out of the busyness of life to allow the body and the mind to rest.

All of that is of course true.  Jesus knows the science and the statistics and the Third Commandment.

But Jesus also knows the devil.

Notice our text tells us that the disciples were so busy, they did not even have the leisure to eat.

That is not a minor notation; eating is an important detail; if you do not eat, you will get sick and you will die.  The disciples are neglecting this most basic aspect of human life, because they are too busy with other things; important things no doubt, but things to which the disciples continued engagement of puts them in danger.

Idle hands are the devils workshop, and so we strive to fill every hour of every day with one activity or another in an effort to keep those hands busy and free from sin.

And in doing so, we end up on the other end of the spectrum, our hands are so busy with activities that we forget about our own needs of body and soul.

Granted, you may not forget to eat.  Meals may be sporadic, they may not always be healthy, they may not even be eaten at the best places; but you know that when you are hungry, it is time to eat.

The same with drinking, whether it is water or soda, you know that you need fluids in your body, keeping you hydrated throughout the day.

Sleep?  Rest for the body?  Well, that is an area where you fall short; late to bed and early to rise is not the best policy, but at least you got a few hours of sleep, and maybe naps during the day to keep you going.

So you have the devil beat, right?  You remember to eat, you drink plenty of liquids, and you sleep.  You have succeeded where the disciples failed, right?

Maybe, but remember that the devil is a crafty one.

He has tricked you into thinking that you have corrected the disciple’s faults; you have not forgotten meals or sleep, but what about worship, and study of the Word?

Busy hands need to fill hours with activities, they need to have something to do at all times; and that means that some hours will get double booked; some hours will be redirected to sleep, or rest elsewhere.

And where are you left at the end?

So hungry for a bite of food and so desperate to have even a few more seconds available to work, you neglect meal time prayer

Seeking those few extra minutes of sleep at the end of the day and at the beginning, you skip daily devotions.

Wiped out from a week of running, you decide that Sunday morning will be for you and for you alone, and you skip worship.

The devil has ever so subtly convinced you that you are too busy to take time out of your day, out of your life, to rest not in a chair or on a boat, but to rest in the peace of Christ.

Idleness leads to sin, but so too does scheduling every minute of every day with everything but the words of our Lord.

We are so busy, we do not even have the leisure to stop and hear the Words of absolution spoken over us; so busy we do not even take time to remember our baptisms; so busy we do not even have a few moments to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ.

And so today, we hear the words of Jesus to stop, and come away, and to rest.  The work of the day, whether it is the work of the Church or whether it is the work of the world will still be there tomorrow; come away and rest.

We hear the words of Jesus that your body needs to rest from the labors that consume you, and to come to Him and find that rest in His words and in His grace.

We hear the words of Jesus that you too need to be served with that whish is needed for life eternal.  The Holy Spirit and the means of grace are given to you as well, so come and rest.

Come and rest in the presence of the one who never rests.  For even in our test, while the disciples rest, Jesus does not.  The crowds come, and Jesus teaches them and heals them, and offers them the rest and comfort that only His words can.

And today, He does the same for you: come and rest a while in the words and promises of Jesus.  Come and rest in the forgiveness of sins; come and rest in the assurances of your baptism; come and rest in the meal of Christ’s body and blood.

Come and rest where the Satan cannot hurt you or harm you; in the presence of Christ, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, so that you can find rest.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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