Did Jesus take a vacation?
This was the question that I asked of our congregation at Center Baptist a few Sundays ago. We have been studying in a series I simply called – Spending the Summer with Jesus.
Since summertime is a time when many get away and even take a vacation, it was a logical question to ask I thought. Here was the answer I gave them. Let it be food for thought for you as you look at the rest of your summer.
I simply said, maybe not in the sense that we would think today, but Jesus did have a rhythm to life that we need to take look at that did include times of Him pulling away and even “getting” away from the crowds, times of R&R.
Now, when you see that you think – rest and relaxation. Let me change it up just a little. R&R in this case would be rest and renewal.
There is a verse that is familiar that speaks to what I mentioned – His rhythm to life. It is Matthew 11:28-30 which says,
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Let me give you another way of looking at this verse that really lays it out, it is the Message paraphrase (which I know many do not like, but remember, it is a paraphrase, and, in this instance, it speaks volumes of how Jesus lived His life),
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Notice that little phrase, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
There was indeed a rhythm to the life of Jesus of that was one of grace. One that absolutely saw Him pressing into the very mission for which He came, to give His life as a sacrifice on the cross to make a way for man to get to God. He came to die so we might live. That was His sole purpose of being born.
Yet, while on mission, He also took moments where He pulled away and got away from the crowd and the hectic pace of life to get alone with the Father and even be alone with those He loved and who loved Him.
In fact, Jesus simply lived out the pattern that was set up in the very beginning. In creation itself, God worked six days and rested on the seventh.
Was it because God was tired, was it because God was worn out from all the work of creating all we see and know in this amazing world we live in?
The answer would be no!
The Bible tells us God never gets weary or worn out! Then why? The pattern was set for us. God knew there would need to be a pattern to our life to work hard but also take times of rest. He set it up this way and Jesus lived it out!
How about you?
But more to that later.
Let us continue with Jesus and His pattern of R&R.
Jesus would often take time for rest and renewal. Look again, Luke 5:16, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].” Luke 5:16 AMP. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16 NLT
Jesus knew He needed this time alone with the Father for silence and solitude. Not just getting away, but one with a purpose, to rest and renewal.
Mark’s gospel I have always been told is centered around action.
Not slow down, just go, go, go.
In fact, you will hear often about Mark’s gospel that the main word is immediately. It shows Jesus being on mission and is a fast-moving gospel account of all He did and accomplished in His short 33 ½ years on this earth and only 3 ½ years in public ministry.
This is true. I do not dispute this. But here is what we don’t often hear about the gospel of Mark.
It also says He withdrew and got away alone or with His disciples over eleven times.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Again, it was His rhythm of life.
Here was the thought I had – He was on mission and on task but never in a hurry.
He had the greatest mission - salvation by going to the cross and dying for our sins and then being resurrection for the dead for our victory. And, He knew He only had a limited time, yet He was not pressed by the tyranny of the urgent.
He was preaching, healing, teaching, and going place to place loving on people and sharing the message of the kingdom.
Look what else He took time to do:
- He also took time to go to a wedding (not to preach, just go and hang out, because He was invited!),
- took time to get alone and pray
- spent time having meals with friends and to those who got saved and welcomed Him into their homes (Zacchaeus and Matthew)
- went to church (not just to go, but the gospels tell us it was part of the rhythm/pattern of His life
- stopped and picked up little kids and held them in His lap.
- spent time with those who put life into His soul and did not take it out (Martha, Mary, and Lazarus)
“Learn the unforced rhythm of grace.”
Rhythm of His life.
Look at one of the passages in Mark chapter 1. After an exceptionally long day of ministry and teaching, the very next morning, Jesus gets away, alone to pray. The disciples come to press Him and get Him into the urgent and Jesus says, no, we must go the other way.
He needed that time to get clarity and direction!
About right now you are saying, I am Not Jesus, I get that, but we are called to follow His steps.
I also know there can be extremes and if we are not careful, we can let the pendulum swing too fare in either direction. There are some who say we must wear out and not rust out. They never stop and constantly must be on mission and never pull away to rest. Rest they say is what we will do in heaven.
The other end of it are those who always want to be in solitude, prayer, alone, seeking to always be about rest and renewal to the point of fully pulling away from society and end up being monks without a monastery.
Neither one alone is the answer. As Warren Wiersbe once said, blessed are the balanced. Jesus shows us we must be about both and have both times of being all in and ministry full force but also need times to “be still and know that He is God!”
Jesus lived in that rhythm of grace in His life.
A fitting example is found in Mark 6 we see Jesus literary telling His disciples that they needed to get away or as He says, come apart and rest awhile. Mark 6:30-31, “And ethe apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 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 disciples had been on their first missionary/preaching trip, and they were fired up about God had allowed them to see, do and experience. Then, Matthew 14 tells us that at the same moment, Jesus had just found out that Herod had killed. Matthew tells us, “When Jesus heard about it, he withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone.
Then we see in Mark, we must, “Come apart and rest awhile” Vance Havner said, we better come apart, before you come apart. Must have times of rest and renewal.
These passages show us why. For the disciples, they had poured out their lives, they had poured out their soul in ministry and sharing the gospel. They were tired in body and spirit and needed to rest and renew.
For Jesus, when He heard the news of John the Baptist dying a terrible death, it took life out of Him.
For all of us the same is true. In all we do, work, ministry, life – we pour out. Then tragedy or pain comes, and it takes it out of us.
Either way, it leaves a void and leaves a hole that we must fill. Often, we fill it with the wrong things. Jesus said, in these moments, we must get away, pull away, to find times of silence and solitude with the Father and with those we love and rest and find renewal to our heart and soul.
When we don’t, we end up living the Christian life with no power, strength and even worse, end up pushing through, trying to do it in our own power and strength, not His.
Like trying to turn a lamp on and not plugging it in.
Let me say that again, it is like trying to turn a lamp on and not plugging it in.
When we get alone with Jesus and get alone with the Father, it is the same with us, plugging in to Heaven to get the spiritual vitality we need.
But if we don’t stop and pause long enough to do it, we are a mess!!
Listen to Chuck Swindoll, “In truth, some of you reading this are on the ragged edge because you are continually in motion, constantly in the presence of needs, and people, and demands, expectations, children pulling at you, spouse needing support, friends wanting help, groups looking for volunteers (church ha ha), schedules, making plans, attending events. You can’t remember the last time you were absolutely alone, sitting or better yet - kneeling in silence. You have lost perspective and you are going to come apart. Believe me I know!”
Wow, hits home to me, what about you?
Here is a question that keeps coming to me as I have ciphered on this truth – is my mission more important than that of Jesus when He was here on this earth?
And He took time to rest and be renewed. He took time to pray and fill His tank alone with the Father. He took time to eat a great meal and have time of renewal among those He loved and loved Him!
Don’t get me wrong, we are on mission, and we are to be about showing and sharing the love of Jesus, but we must not forget, we also need time to pull away like Jesus.
What does that look like for us?
Well, it wasn’t easy for Jesus, and it is not easy for us. Right after Jesus told the disciples to come apart and rest and they headed out, the crowds followed them, and they came to them, and Jesus ended up not only preaching to them but also feeding them all.
Life and ministry do not stop, that is true. But even when all of it was over, Jesus made it a priority to send the crowd away and go the mountain to get alone with the Father. He knew He had to.
So, we must find a way and make it a priority. We must get alone with the Father and spend time pulling away from the schedule and routine, with loved ones and friends and allow God to give us rest and renewal.
What are some practical ways?
Here are a few thoughts?
- Take time to get alone, no devises, with an open Bible, an open notebook and an open heart and just let God’s word speak to your heart and feed your soul. Not for a study, not for a sermon for us preachers, not for Sunday School or even just to check off a list. Just to connect to God!
- Take a walk and talk God.
- Sit by a lake, a creek or river and just be still and pray from your heart or don’t talk at and just sit and listen in prayer.
- Sit on the front porch or front yard in the evening and listen to the summer sounds of God’s creation.
- Go fishing, ride your bike, go for a ride in or on your favorite vehicle.
- If you are able to take some time away, do it. Do you know that most Americans never use all their vacations and brag about it……..how is that working for you????
- Have a great meal with life affirming and soul encouraging people. With no agenda and just laugh and fellowship.
- Go off social media for a season and just let your soul catch up!!
- Sleep in on a Saturday if you can and let your body wake you up!
- Play a great board game.
- Try catching lighting bugs like you did when you were a kid.
In other words, find what fills your soul and do it. We know time alone with God does, and other things as well. Take time to do it. We must if we are going to make it the long haul!!
Let me close with this illustration the Lord showed me in my own life recently. It has been a whirlwind season, and I am not boasting or saying it is more than anyone else, just saying it is what is. And I am not complaining, I am and have been so blessed to do what I do and to have what I have.
It has just been a lot of pouring out and taking out of parts of my life. So, the other Monday, after a bad storm hit our area, I went and helped my dad and Mama Tine clean up their yard. It was good to do some work outside and get out of the normal routine for a Monday. It helped me.
Then on Wednesday, Courtney and I went back down there to pick up something my dad had got for Courtney at the antique store. It was a very busy day; I was flying out the next day to Texas for my cousin’s funeral and I was still not packed nor prepared to leave.
Plus, I was preaching that night and still trying to prepare for my message for Sunday after we returned Saturday night.
Daddy had picked a mess of green beans from His garden and before I could say anything, Courtney started helping Daddy and Mama Tine string and break the beans.
My first thought, and I feel terrible saying it, but it was true – I do not have time to sit on the front porch and do this. I have way too much to do, and this does not fit in my schedule today. But here we are.
Again, I feel terrible thinking it, but I am human, and it was there.
But the more I sat, and we worked up those beans, the more I knew that was exactly what I needed.
We laughed, shared stories and it filled my soul where a hole had been left as I had been hurting at the loss of my cousin along with other burdens I was carrying. I needed to spend time with my father. It was a blessing.
Can I leave this with you. Yes, we must be on mission and yes, we must be about the gospel. But we must also take time to pause and just spend time with our heavenly Father. Jesus did and if He did, we must as well.
Jesus took time to enjoy the blessings of life of children, family and freinds, and if He did, we must as well.
Hope this helps.
May you all find times in this month of July to pull back, enjoy some time away, be refreshed and renewed and find rest for your soul.
As we prepare for the fresh season of ministry ahead when the fall comes, and school is wide open again.
Remember, if you don’t take time to come apart, you will come apart!!
God bless you all!!