The narrative of Jesus feeding the multitude begins with the apostles returning from going throughout the towns of Galilee (Lk. 9:6). Luke tells us that when they had returned they told the Lord about all that they had done. They had cast out demons and healed people. They had preached the good news of the kingdom to the lost sheep of Israel. And though we don’t have any further details of their ministry at that time, we could assume they were probably excited.

It also appears they were tired and hungry.

Mark tells us that after the apostles told Jesus what they had done and what they thought, He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”, then Mark inserts this comment, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mk. 6:31).

So it isn’t only a contemporary issue where people say, “I was so busy I didn’t even have an opportunity to eat.” That was an issue the disciples faced as well. They were so busy that they didn’t have time to eat and Jesus saw that they needed rest.

Let me emphasize that: Jesus saw that they needed a rest.

The disciples’ resources were finite and Jesus was not a harsh taskmaster. They had served Him vigorously, but while there were times for sprinting in the marathon of ministry, there were also times to take a moment and exhale. This was looking to be one of those ‘exhale’ moments for the disciples.

Granted, the invitation to rest would turn out to be a prelude to an interruption; but that being said, the heart of God is on display in Jesus’ words.

Perhaps this would be a timely exhortation for you. Perhaps you’ve been vigorously serving the Lord and His people but you’ve been ‘burning the candle at both ends’. Perhaps, you need to hear the Lord say to you, “Come… rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). If so, may you be exhorted today to make time in your schedule to do just that. Set aside time to be alone with Jesus. Remember, He invites those who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him. And set aside some time to rest from your labor. Remember that God had the Sabbath in mind when He created for six days and rested on the seventh (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:8-11). Even though God never slumbers nor sleeps, He understands that we need to.