Friday, February 20, 2009

Learn from Me, and You Will Find Rest for Your Souls...

There was one little aspect of yesterday's Bible study that really goes with the post from last night. But that post was so long, and this aspect stands alone so well and is so worth remembering that I would post a blog about just that one thing, just so I can come back and read it...and if you read it too, so good! Be blessed!
After all of our discussion last night about chapter 6 in the Gospel of Mark, Pastor Ken pointed out one thing that was a key observation. He asked us, "What is rest?" after observing that the disciples, er, apostles, were in need of rest after being sent out and returning to report to Jesus all that they had done. Jesus takes them away from the crowds so they can have some time to eat and be by themselves...but they are followed by the running crowds, the mob of 5,000 men (and you know that women and children were there too!). They are there with the crowds for such a while that they all are hungry. How can they feed so many? It is clear that there is just no physical means to feed them, nothing that the disciples can provide that is in any way near adequate. Jesus breaks the bread and the fish, and the disciples, rather than reclining and talking and eating amongst themselves, distribute the food to the thousands of people until all are satisfied, rather than send them away to find their own food. Not what the average American would call rest. So what is rest? Did the disciples find rest that day?
Pastor Ken pointed out, or somehow tweaked and pulled out of the class, that rest is being in the presence of Jesus, in the presence of God. Rest is being in fellowship with your Creator. Rest is focusing on God. That is the calm in the storm, not letting our hearts be troubled, not being afraid, but focusing on Him, His power, His provision, His lovingkindness. It didn't end up being much of a physical rest for the disciples. You can imagine that the disciples might have been pretty physically exhausted after all of the distribution of bread and fish to thousands of people; but there had to be refreshment in hearing what Jesus had to say, in having their faith built by seeing His provision when there seemed to be no way to feed the people, in realizing that their own inadequacy to feed the people didn't matter when He was there. It wasn't the rest for the physical needs that Jesus provided for them that day; it was rest for their souls. Maybe it didn't have time to sink in that day, because they were so busy. But can you imagine witnessing that event and thinking back on it later, all the rest of your life? Any time that you would think you couldn't get through some challenge, and you were losing sleep, and your stomach was twisting and churning, you could remember how five loaves and a few fish became, in Jesus' hands, enough to feed thousands. And your challenges would just kind of shrink when you knew that Jesus was still with you. That would be the rest provided on that day, I'm pretty sure.
It is so strangely easy to forget that we have the same Jesus Christ that we read about in the pages of Scripture. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We need to let Him off the pages of Scripture and into the realities of our everyday existence. We don't need to have sleepless nights, or churning stomachs. Jesus is still capable and ready to calm the storms, to feed the multitude, to provide rest for our souls just like He did for them that day 2000 years ago.
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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