Mark 6:30
(Cf. Matthew 14:12, 13.) Christ the central Figure all through the evangelic narrative. His personal importance is never obscured. It is from him apostles go forth; it is to him they return. Kings note his presence and works, and the people crowd to his ministry.

I. WHAT THE APOSTLES TOLD JESUS. "All things whatsoever they had done, and whatsoever they had taught."

1. They narrated their experience. Most of them had to speak of their work and its results. It had exceeded their most sanguine expectations. The people had received them everywhere with joy, and they had nothing but success to relate. A few, however (Matthew 14:12), had a tale of personal sorrow to pour into his ears. They had been disciples of John the Baptist, whom Herod had just beheaded. Their hopes had been dashed to the ground, and they scarcely knew what else to do than "tell him." More disquieting still was their story, for they informed him that the tetrarch was anxious to see him, as he fancied he was John, whom he had beheaded, risen from the dead. So varied is the history of the Christian life!

2. It was but imperfectly understood by themselves. What they had done (i.e. miracles and exorcisms) was in their estimation most important, and is naturally enough mentioned first by the evangelist. By-and-by they were to learn that it was only for the sake of the teaching accompanying them that the "signs" were of any value. And so it was with the sorrow and fear of the disciples of John; they knew not their real consequence. Both were probably exaggerated. Still they did not feel they had to wait until everything was clearly and fully understood. All alike are drawn towards him. We, too, spontaneously pour forth our sorrow and joy, our fear and our confidence, into his ear, sure of sympathy and help.

II. WHY DID THEY TELL JESUS?

1. A sense of responsibility. It was he who commissioned them at the first, and they felt bound to carry back their report. He was the subject of their preaching, and of chief importance. And it was only as his power was imparted and continued to them that they were able to proceed.

2. A feeling of interest. The very enthusiasm and excitement brought them back to Jesus - the pleasure of telling him all the wonders and successes of their mission. Points, too, that specially struck their attention were referred to him for explanation.

3. A yearning for sympathy. They felt that he would most heartily respond to their mood, whether of elation or despondency. No one ever came with a genuine human feeling to Christ, and received a rebuff.

III. HOW DID HE RECEIVE THEM? He had evidently listened to their whole story. Now they met with:

1. Kindly appreciation.

2. Gracious provision for their needs.

3. Precautions for their mutual safety. - M.







Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place.
I. NOTE THE TENDERNESS OF CHRIST.

II. LABOUR LIGHTENED IS NOT LOST.

III. SPIRITUAL WORK ESPECIALLY NEEDS REST.

IV. THE BREEZY MOUNTAINSIDE, AWAY FROM MEN, STILL GIVES THE FINEST SORT OF REST.

V. REST NEVER SEEMS TO BE HAD WHERE YOU ARE, BUT ALWAYS OTHER-WHERE; and sometimes when you reach the quietest spot, the disturbing element has gone there before you.

(R. Glover.)

God has signified this to us in His material creation. He has made the earth to revolve on her axis in a way that brings her at stated seasons under light and shade; and He has proportioned the strength of man to those seasons.

I. We need rest PHYSICALLY. The hands begin to slacken and the eyes to close when God draws the curtain. It is one of those adaptations which show God's kindly purpose. The thoughtless or covetous over-tension of our own powers the hard driving of those under our control, the feeling that we can never get enough work out of our fellow creatures, the evil eye cast on their well-earned rest or harmless recreation, are all to be denounced and condemned.

II. This law applies also to MENTAL exertion. The mind must at times look away from things, as well as at them, if it is to see clearly and soundly. This is not necessarily waste time; when the mind is lying fallow it may be laying up capacity of stronger growth.

III. THE SPIRITUAL faculties are subject to the same law. A continual strain of active religious work is apt to deaden feeling and produce formality.

(John Ker, D. D.)

I. RECREATIVE REST IS RECOGNIZED BY GOD AS A NECESSITY FOR MAN.

II. IT SHOULD HAVE A JUST RELATION TO EARNEST WORK. Rest is the shadow thrown by the substance work, and you reach the shadow when you have passed by the substance which throws it.

III. IT IS INTENDED TO EXERCISE A WHOLESOME INFLUENCE ON CHARACTER. If it fits us for doing our work better, it is right; otherwise, it is wrong. The test is, Can we engage in it in conscious fellowship with Christ?

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

It is not an indolent animal repose, but that rest of refreshment which befits those who have souls. Its elements are —

I. COMMUNION WITH OUTWARD NATURE. The world was made not merely for the support of man's body, but also for the nurture of his mind and spirit. What architect would build his house only with an eye to stores and animal comforts, paying no regard to its being a home for a man, with windows opening on wide expanses of land and sea, or quiet nooks of homely beauty? We should endeavour to make the inner world of our thoughts about God and spiritual things not a separate thing from the world of creation, but with a union like that between body and soul. If we could learn to do this aright, it would strengthen us in good thoughts, and relieve doubts and calm anxieties. Nature can do very little for us if we have no perception of a Divine Spirit breathing through it; but very much if the Great Interpreter is with us. If we surrender ourselves to this Teacher He can show us wide views through narrow windows, and speak lessons of deep calm in short moments.

II. INTERCOURSE WITH FELLOW CHRISTIANS. There will always be a want in a man's religious nature it he has not come into contact with hearts around him that are beating with a Divine life to the pulse of the present time. Every age, every circle, has its lessons from God, and no one can learn them all alone. Let us be more frank and confidential, also more natural, in our talk on these matters concerning our mutual faith and hope.

III. A CLOSER CONVERSE WITH THE MASTER. When we are doing our appointed work in God's world, or labouring actively for the good of others, our minds are dispersed among outward employments; we may be serving God very truly all the time, but we are careful about many things, and have not leisure to sit at His feet and speak to Him about our own individual wants. It is essential that we should from time to time secure leisure for this. The flame of devotion will not burn very long or very bright unless you have oil in your vessels with your lamps.

(John Ker, D. D.)

Rest is an absolute necessity of life; without it the body dies. The traveller on a journey looks forward to some spot where he can stay a while. The sailor has his haven where he can for a time furl his sails and find shelter from the storm and tempest. The wanderer in the hot desert strains his eyes to see the one green spot in all that sandy waste where there are trees and water and the promise of rest. And the soul needs rest as well as the body. Just as too much excitement and hurry and over-work wear out our bodily strength, so our spiritual life, the life of the soul, becomes faint and weak without rest. On our journey from earth to heaven we need some quiet harbours, some peaceful spots, where we can find rest. Jesus has built such cities of refuge for us, His pilgrims, and provided quiet havens for His people as they pass over the waves of this troublesome world.

I. THE SERVICES AND SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH. There is a famous bell in a certain church abroad known as the "Poor Sinner's Bell." This is how it got its name. Five hundred years ago a bell founder was engaged in casting this bell. For a few moments he left a boy in charge of the furnace, charging him not to touch the apparatus which held the molten metal in the cauldron. The boy disobeyed his master, and meddled with the handle. Instantly the liquid metal began to pour into the mould. The terrified boy ran to tell the bell founder, who, thinking his great work was ruined, struck the boy in a fit of passion and killed him. When the metal was cold, the bell, instead of being spoiled, was found to be perfect in shape and singularly sweet in tone. The unhappy bell founder gave himself up for the murder of the boy, and as he was led to execution the Poor Sinner's Bell rang out sweetly, inviting all men to pray for the doomed man, and warning all men of the effects of disobedience and anger. Is there no Poor Sinner's Bell among us? Does the church bell bring no message to you?

II. PRIVATE PRAYER.

III. BIBLE READING. Put your heart into this, and you will find a refreshment, a resting place. It will take you for a time out of the world, out of the great, busy, noisy Vanity Fair, and you can, as it were, walk in God's garden, or wander through His great picture gallery. Men or women who have lived and died in faith will be your companions, your examples.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

I. There is no true rest which has not been earned by work.

II. The duty of resting has the same reasons as the duty of working.

III. Solitude is the proper refreshment after public work, and preparation for it.

IV. The spirit can never be at leisure from compassion, sympathy, love.

(E. Johnson, M. A.)

Duty of religious teachers to point out and rebuke social evils. One of these is the want of leisure. A fair amount of labour is necessary and desirable, but when work is so absorbing that mind, affections, and spiritual life are neglected, we sin against law of nature and God. So far as labour out of doors is concerned, God Himself interposes by drawing the curtain of night; but in certain trades, through the ambition of the trader or the carelessness of the general public, young people are often kept on their feet twelve or fifteen hours, with scarcely time allowed to swallow a morsel of food. The wrongs of these silent sufferers ought to be redressed. Let us not forget —

I. THAT EARNEST WORK IS DIVINELY APPOINTED. Before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Afterwards in the fourth commandment. Labour and rest are linked together by God in indissoluble bonds. Work is necessary to

(1)human progress;

(2)the preservation of society;

(3)the nobility of man.I confess that I sympathize very much with the American who was told by an English tourist that he was surprised to find no "gentlemen" in his country. "What are they?" was the reply. "Oh," said he, "people who don't work for their living." "Yes, we have some of them," replied the shrewd New Englander, "only we call them tramps." Thank God if the necessity of work, and the opportunity, and the power for work are yours; and in whatever sphere of life you are placed, pray that you may deserve at last the epitaph which was put, at his own request, on the tomb of one of the bravest and most brilliant Christian soldiers England ever had: "Here lies Henry Lawrence, who tried to do his duty."

II. THAT SUITABLE LEISURE IS IMPERATIVELY REQUIRED. Observe the evils resulting from long hours of labour.

1. Physical. Constant strain and tension.

2. Mental. No chance of improving the mind by reading, classes, societies, etc.

3. Moral When the young people do get free, scarcely anything is open to them but what may tend to their corruption. And the temptation comes at a time when there is the more danger of yielding to it, from the reaction which follows continuous work and induces a craving for excitement.

4. Religious. Home training rendered impossible. Lord's Day almost necessarily devoted exclusively to bodily rest and recreation, and so worship neglected.

III. THAT THIS JUST CLAIM FOR LEISURE IS OFTEN DISREGARDED. Things are, in some respects, much better than they were. The wholesale houses, and many offices, close earlier than before, and Saturday is a half holiday. But this improvement only affects certain trades and districts. Those in retail shops — milliners, dressmakers, etc., remain unrelieved. Leisure is the more required now, because work is done much more strenuously and exhaustingly than hitherto.

IV. REMEDIES.

1. Combination among employes.

2. Agreement among employers. It is for their own interest.

3. More enlightened public opinion, resulting in altered practice.(1) Give up late shopping, so that there shall no longer be a demand for protracted labour.(2) Encourage employers who show their willingness to do what is right in this matter.(3) Allow a reasonable time for execution of orders, so that the beautiful dress at a party shall not be hideous in the sight of angels by the stains of tears and blood they alone can see.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

A well-known visitor among the poor found living in a notorious court a woman who was known as "the Buttonhole Queen," who often gave work away, poor though she was, to those poorer than herself. Reserved as she appeared to be, she was at last induced to tell her story, which accounted for the interest she took in the poor girls around her; and poor they were, for fancy the misery of making 2,880 buttonholes in order to earn 10s., and having "no time even to cry!" Her story was this: Her daughter had been apprenticed to a milliner at the West End. She was just over sixteen, and a bright young Christian. She got through her first season without breaking down; but the second was too much for her. She did not complain, but one day she was brought home in a cab, having broken a blood vessel, and there she lay, propped up by pillows, her face white as death, except for two spots where it had been flecked by her own blood. To use the mother's own words: "She smiled as she saw me, and then we carried her in, and when the ethers were gone she clung round my neck, and laying her pretty head on my shoulder, she whispered, 'Mother, my own mother, I've come home to die!'" Killed by late hours! She lingered for three months, and then she passed away, but not before she had left a message which became the life inspiration of her mother: "For my sake be kind to the girls like me;" and that message, with God's blessing, may make some of you think and resolve, as it did the poor "Buttonhole Queen."

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

The apostles were well-nigh overwhelmed with their labours, for work had made work: they were cumbered with much serving — not preaching the gospel only, but healing and exorcising; their meals and needful rest were broken in upon by importunate crowds; and so the Lord, to teach us that His ministers must have time for needful refreshment, does not recruit them by a miracle, but insists upon their using natural means. And is it not so now? Is not many an active and self-denying minister well-nigh broken down and worn out, because there is no time for thought and rest, and tranquil meditation, and a change of scene? Rich men, with many roomed mansions, could not do a greater kindness to poor overworked ministers than by inviting them from their crowded streets and alleys to find a little rest and leisure in their multitudes of unused apartments.

(M. F. Sadler.)

For all organic life God has provided periods of repose, during which repair goes on in order to counteract the waste caused by activity. In the springtime we see movement and stir in gardens, fields, and hedgerows, which continues till the fruits are gathered in and the leaves fall; but then winter's quiet again settles down over all, and nature is at rest. Even the flowers have their time for closing their petals, and their sleeping hours come so regularly, and yet are so varied in distribution among them, that botanists can construct a floral clock out of our English wildflowers, and tell the hour of night or day by their opening or closing. The same God who created the flowers and appointed the seasons, ordained the laws of Israel, and by these definite seasons of rest were set apart for the people — the Sabbath, the Jubilee year, and the annual festivals. Indeed, in every age and every land, the coming of night and the victory of sleep are hints of what God has ordained for man.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

The first of these principles is that rest is the result and the fruit of labour and toil; it is the right and duty of workers. The second principle which I venture to lay down with reference to recreation is this — that its proper object is to prepare us for further work. There is yet one other principle to be noticed in connection with our subject, viz., that in our rest and recreation we should maintain a consciousness of God's presence, and carry out the apostolic rule — whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

(J. F. Kitto, M. A.)

Luther used to sport with his children; Edmund Burke used to caress his favourite horse; Thomas Chalmers, in the dark hour of the Church's disruption, played kite for recreation — as I was told by his own daughter; and the busy Christ said to the busy apostles: "Come ye apart awhile into the desert and rest yourselves." And I have observed that they who do not know how to rest do not know how to work.

(Dr. Talmage.)

It was a time of mourning. Our Lord had just heard of the death of a near kinsman; that lion-hearted man who had confronted a king in his adultery, and had given his life as a martyr. His death, with its circumstances, affected no doubt with more than common sorrow the tender, loving, most human heart of Jesus. Also it was one of those dangerous times in human life, at which the accomplishment of a difficult duty is apt to throw us off our guard, and through self-complacency to induce slumber. The apostles had just returned from a difficult mission, and had come back to report to their Master both what they had done and what they had taught. And for this third reason also. Theirs was a busy life, a life of great unrest at all times: "there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." For some purposes indeed the world cannot be too much with us. With it and in it lies our work. To encourage the activities, to direct the energies. Besides which, there are not only virtues which can have no exercise but in society — there are also many faults which spring up inevitably in solitude. There are some influences of the world which need a strong counteraction. One of these is irritation. Another of these evil influences is what must be called, in popular language, worldliness. And there is this, too, in the presence of the world, that it keeps under, of necessity, the lively action of conscience, and makes any direct access to God an absolute impossibility. A Christian man thinks it no part of religion, but the very contrary, to do his worldly business badly. If he is to do it well, he must give his thoughts to it. If he is to give his thoughts to it, the lively presence of high and holy topics of meditation is scarcely possible. The correcting necessity — "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile." This seclusion may be either periodical or occasional. Think what night is, and then say what we should be without it. And that which night is, in one aspect, as a periodical withdrawal from the injurious influences of the multitude, that, in another point of view, and yet more impressively, is God's day of rest, the blessed Resurrection day, the Christian Sunday. One He visits with a loss, and one with a misfortune, and one with a bereavement, and one with disease. But there remains just one caution. We must not wait for this seclusion by Christ Himself. If Christ comes not to take us aside, we must go aside to Him.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

And after the weary six days have seen him burning, glowing, sacked, replenished, and sacked again, Sunday comes; and thousands of men do on Sunday what railroads do — run the old engine into the machine shop, and make the needed repairs, that it may be fit to start again on Monday. So men, dealing in the affairs of life, and coming under its excitements, go into retirement purely and merely to rest, simply to refit. It is a life that is not worthy of a man. It is a life that certainly is adverse, in all its influences, to the plenary development of that which makes man the noblest animal on the globe. We do not need retirement because we are so weary: we need it, and enough of it, and we need it under certain right circumstances, in order that we may think, consider, and know what we are, where we are, and what we are doing.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Then we need these periods of rest for taking new observations. Every ship that makes a voyage, after fogs or storms obscured the sky, seizes the first moment of starlight or sunlight to take observations. The seamen have been going by dead reckoning or by no reckoning, but when they get an opportunity to make an observation, they can very soon tell by computation where they are.

(H. W. Beecher.)

One fact which we cannot afford to overlook is that the instrument of the soul in all its mental and emotional workings is a material brain, undergoing with each modification of thought and play of feeling a corresponding molecular change. In common with every other bodily organ, its healthy activity is limited by its need of nutrition and sleep. Besides, the researches of men like Professor Ferrier have proved that there is a localization of faculty in the brain, so that persevering without intermission in one set of ideas has an effect upon it corresponding to the exclusive use of one set of muscles in another part of the body, with similar results also of disproportionate development and consequent incompleteness of mental character. These are only physiological explanations of the well-established facts of experience, that work without play induces dulness, that the bow must sometimes be unbent, that there must be in mental culture not only a rotation of various crops, but periodical fallows, or barrenness will be the result. In the name of morality and religion, also, a protest may be raised against unceasing and exclusive occupation for the welfare of others, as the ideal of a worthy life. God sent us into the world to grow and realize His own thought in creating us. If human welfare is an end of our existence, our own welfare is, at least, part of it. But it is inconsistent with our welfare to dwarf and repress any part of our God-given nature. We were intended to grow all round, on our north side as well as on the side that faces the sun. The sense of melody, the feeling of humour, the perception of beauty in form and colour, and the social instinct, are as much from God as our conscience of right and wrong. They are of immeasurably less importance, but of some importance, nevertheless. Their culture cannot be neglected, or their cravings repressed, without a corresponding loss of mental symmetry.

(E. W. Shalders, B. A.)

The first element of recreation is rest. Change of employment brings a measure of relief, but no change of employment will dispense with the necessity there is for rest. To suppose that the time spent in it is so much deducted from the world's welfare or our own is a great mistake. In a speech delivered by Lord Macaulay, more than thirty years ago, advocating a shortening of the hours of labour, he describes, in language as true as it is eloquent, the material advantages this country has derived from the observance of the Sabbath. He says: "The natural difference between Campania and Spitzbergen is trifling when compared with the difference between a country inhabited by men full of bodily and mental vigour and a country inhabited by men sunk in bodily and mental decrepitude. Therefore it is that we are not poorer, but richer, because we have, through many ages, rested from our labour one day in seven. That day is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies ill the furrow, while the Exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of nations as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the machine of machines, the machine compared with which all the contrivances of the Watts and the Arkwrights are worthless, is repairing and winding up, so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, with renewed corporeal vigour. Never will I believe that what makes a population stronger, and healthier, and wiser, and better, can make it poorer."

(E. W. Shalders, B. A.)

Studies
There were two classes to whom this invitation was addressed — the mourners for John Baptist (see preceding verses, and Matthew 14:12, 13) and the triumphant apostles, exulting, excited, and perhaps unduly elated (ver. 30).

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE SAVIOUR MAKES THIS APPEAL.

1. On the Lord's day.

2. Frequent intervals during the week.

3. Seasons of sickness.

4. Various relative trials.

II. THE NATURE OF THE RETIREMENT TO WHICH WE ARE INVITED.

1. Not simply withdrawal from others. You may live aloof from the world, and yet not be with Christ.

2. Not monkish seclusion. It was only "for awhile." Not like the hermits of the deserts.

3. To enjoy His sympathy.

4. To listen to His instructions; to learn His truth.

5. To feel the sanctifying effect of His presence.

III. THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THIS RETIREMENT IS NEEDED — "They had not leisure so much as to eat."

1. Our physical nature requires it.

2. For our spiritual health. The late Sir E. Parry was remarkable for his regular observance of devotional exercise on board his ship, and equally for his skill and presence of mind in times of danger. "Keep yourselves in the love of God." There is much growth of a warm, still, summer's night, when the dew is quietly descending on the plant.

3. To prepare us for usefulness. Lamps must be secretly fed with holy oil.

4. To prepare us to be alone with Christ at last.(1) Here is a test for your state. Can you bear His presence alone.(2) Secure time fur being alone with Christ. By rising early; by being less in company with the world; by planning how you will spend a day.(3) Assist others to obtain it. Let employers afford it to their servants.

(Studies).

It will amply repay the pilgrim to turn aside sometimes from the beaten track; for the incidental teachings of the Blessed Life, like the wild flowers of the glen, or the fern sheltering in the fissure, or the silver stream dripping from the rock, or the still pool with its myriad beauties, are no inconsiderable element in the attainment of that wisdom whose ways are pleasantness, and whose paths are peace. The lessons of the story are broad and obvious. Foregoing the lessons of this story as a whole, it will be profitable to give our attention to that one feature of it which is enshrined in the words: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile."

I. For with what graphic force do the words on which the Master's invitation was based DESCRIBE THE UNREST OF TODAY — "There were many coming and going." We meet it everywhere. On all sides one is brought face to face with work — exciting, bewildering, exhausting. This is not an eccentricity, an abnormal and therefore transitional phenomenon; it is a necessity of the times. The energy which at one time commanded a fortune is now needed to win one's daily bread. Inventions which once excited the wonder of the world are now regarded as curiosities. The scholarship which a century ago secured a European reputation now provokes a smile. This is growing upon us. Such a state of things cannot be viewed without anxiety. Physiologically, or from the standpoint of the political economist, this wear and tear of life is serious. In the home life of today the absorbing interests of the outside world are telling with terrible force. But it is in its influence upon the moral and religious life that the present unrest is to be viewed with the gravest anxiety. The claims of the day upon a man's thought, energy, time, are not only perilous; they are fatal to the true and healthy growth of the soul; and where there is no growth there is decay.

II. THE PRESERVATIVE AGAINST THE DANGERS OF THE PREVALENT UNREST AND EXCITEMENT which the words of the Master suggest — "Come ye...and rest awhile." For there is no peril, no necessity, to which the resources of Divine grace and sympathy are not adjusted. It might seem superfluous to dwell, even for a moment, on the imperative need there is for physical rest in these days when there are "many coming and going."

(R. N. Young, D. D)

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