The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. ESV
What a strange opening for today’s lesson. Where have the apostles been, and what have they been doing? Perhaps more important, why did the people who set up the daily readings have us start in such a place? And while we’re asking questions, why are we skipping verses 33-52?
Chapter 6 opens with Jesus teaching in his home synagogue and being rejected. He then sends the Twelve out two by two to preach, heal, and drive out demons. That is followed by the execution of John the Baptist. The next passage we will look at below. It is followed by the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus walking on water.
We are not going to look at any of those huge events.
Instead, we return to today’s reading.
“Now come along to some quiet place by yourselves, and rest for a little while,” said Jesus, for there were people coming and going incessantly so that they had not even time for meals. Phillips
Imagine being one of the Twelve. You have just returned from a week or so of doing the things you had watched Jesus do and you can’t wait to tell him about it. Remember returning from some trip excited to relate your experiences. That is what it was like for the Twelve.
But they were edged away from their Master by the crowds wanting him to heal them. Notice that Jesus said to the Twelve they needed rest. Naturally, he knew what they had done and how they felt about it. He too had done all that and more. It was exhausting. Even the Son of Man needed rest.
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. NIV
Yet, the very next verse spoils that plan.
But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them. NET
Not only that, but…
When Jesus disembarked he saw the large crowd and his heart was touched with pity for them because they seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. And he settled down to teach them about many things. Phillips
How distressing for the Twelve. Not only do they not get to tell all, they have to stand aside as Jesus does his thing.
What is the lesson for the Twelve?
Let’s say Jesus sent Simon and Judas together to wander the countryside and do good works. Upon returning, they are marginalized. Yet, in their time together, they should have learned to meet people’s needs when they need them met.
Jesus attempted to give his Twelve a chance to wind down, and they did for a time in the boat. But seeing the extent of the need of the crowd, Jesus gave in and feed them with the Word.
You and I need to learn when to respond and when to put off. Part of the ‘secret’ is to pay attention to the whole person, not just her words. Body language can tell us more than words do. We also need to know when to pass the person on to someone better qualified to meet that need. There is no substitute for listening. Sometimes that is enough.
We know that the big feed and walking on water comes next. Once Jesus calms the waters and gets into the boat—in the middle of the lake—they make it to shore where once again Jesus is besieged by people wanting to be healed.
And when they had crossed over to the other side of the lake, they landed at Gennesaret and tied up there. As soon as they came ashore, the people recognised Jesus and rushed all over the countryside and began to carry the sick around on their beds to wherever they heard that he was. Wherever he went, in villages or towns or farms, they laid down their sick right in the road-way and begged him that they might “just touch the edge of his cloak”. And all those who touched him were healed. Phillips
All were healed. No doubt, the Twelve had recovered their sense of where they fit in this ministry. Sure, they taught a hundred and healed a dozen, but Jesus….
That is an important lesson for all of us. We will never match what Jesus did and still does. We are and always will be pale imitations.
Be righteous and do good.