Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
~ Mark 6:30-31
The world may not see it, but ministry is hard work. On the surface, those receiving the Word feel refreshed, enlightened, and even energized. But for the ones giving the gospel, sharing prophecy, healing the multitudes, it is tiring and sometimes thankless work. Many are the times we read in the gospels that Jesus tried to go to a deserted place to rest, and the crowds followed Him, and so He had little if any time to rest. In today’s verse, it was the disciples who had been doing the work, and when they returned to Jesus, He tried to give them time to eat and rest. But a disciple’s work is never done, not until that day when our Lord calls us home to our final home, when we turn from work to worship.
After having gone out and healed the individual sick and lame in His name, the disciples likely thought they deserved a little down time, but the crowds didn’t see it that way. They were hungry for what Jesus had to offer, and Jesus saw they had no shepherd (v.34), so when they followed Him and His disciples wherever they went, Jesus had compassion on them. Just when the disciples thought they’d have a break from ministry, Jesus gave the Twelve a bigger task: feeding the thousands with virtually nothing. Yes, Jesus broke the bread and blessed the meal, but it was the DISCIPLES who fed the thousands, the tiny portions of fish and loaves multiplying in their hands as they handed them out to the hundreds and fifties arrayed on the hillside.
While it may seem like some ministries been doing a lot of God’s kingdom work in a very short time, we can be sure that just when we are ready to rest, Jesus will have an even greater miracle in store for us. The thousands are waiting for His Word, and our Lord is preparing the table for us to serve them. All He asks of us is the willingness to believe that what little energy and provision we have is enough to feed this thirsty and hurting world.