“Don’t worry about money,” He told them. “Don’t take anything with you. Just stay with whoever will welcome you and tell everyone they need to repent.”
That’s my paraphrase, of course, but that’s essentially what Mark 6 says. The twelve disciples went out two by two and preached repentance to all who would listen. They healed the sick. Cast out demons. They were very busy, and perhaps surprising even themselves, quite effective.
When they returned, Mark says they told Jesus “all that they had done and taught” (6:30). Probably talked nonstop, between the twelve of them. After hearing their reports, Jesus invited them to come to a quiet place and rest – they had to be so tired. So deeply craving rest and peace. They followed Him, ready for a time of quiet.
But the crowds followed Him, too.
Jesus saw them coming, and met them where they were. Patiently He spoke to them again, explaining the ways of God for hours.
All while His tired disciples waited in the Middle Eastern sun.
We Get Tired, Too
No matter how we fill our days, we usually fill them. Between a job or school, kids or parents or roommates, church responsibilities, volunteer work, and whatever else we last agreed to, we often have more good things on our to-do lists than we know how to handle. Our time is usually spoken for and rest is hard to find.
And oh, how we need it.
You Do It
Finally Jesus’ disciples pointed out to Him that the day was late and the closest town wasn’t…close. He should send them away to find food. Yes, that would work.
Jesus turned to His tired disciples, weary after a journey and exhausted from service, ready for rest and quiet. And He said: “‘You give them something to eat’” (6:37).
They responded defensively. “How are we supposed to do that? Should we take several months’ worth of wages out of that money you told us not to carry with us?”
Apparently sarcasm is an ancient art.
The twelve people on earth closest to Jesus had seen His works and heard His teachings more than anyone else—and they thought they had to buy bread. For the Maker of the wheatfields.
The patience He showed with the constant crowds was the same patience He showed to His disciples. Maybe even greater patience, really, seeing as the disciples had witnessed more evidence of His trustworthiness than anyone else. And still they didn’t really see.
In their exhaustion, as their memories of their missionary accomplishments began to fade, He reminded them that their strength was never theirs. It was His strength. His power.
So many times it’s when our tired human bodies can simply go no farther that He calls us to share another encouragement, give another helping hand, or serve a meal to yet another crowd. When we tell Him we can’t do it, He will already know that. When we hit that wall, sometimes we just have to step back, take a breath, and watch Him do that miracle through us.
Reminders of His Power
They handed out the five loaves and two fish, which somehow turned into enough food for well over 5,000 people. There were twelve big baskets left—one for each of those exhausted disciples. Heavy reminders that God isn’t limited by our energies.
And that we will never see the limits of His miracles.