"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 24

The Rhythm of the Christian Life

Read: Mark 6:30-34

Text: (Mark 6:31 KJV) And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while

Theme: Believers must have time alone with God.


There are two significant events here - the apostles returning from their first soul winning mission, and the Lord suggesting they "come apart and rest." Let's examine those two areas of signficance:

The apostles returned from their first mission:

QUESTION - What is the significance of the term "apostle" used in verse 30? (ANSWER - First time it is applied to them. Previously they have been "disciples," or learners. Now they are "apostles" or "sent ones.")

QUESTION - From the events described in these verses, how popular do you think Jesus was at this time?

QUOTE - "This is the only event prior to the last week of Jesus’ life that is recorded in all four Gospels. It is the peak of Jesus’ popularity." (Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life Of Christ, Vol. 1)

Jesus calls the disciples to take some time apart from others and rest:

QUESTION - What had just taken place in the lives of the disciples that would indicate they might need such a time of rest?

QUOTE - "It is clear from this that our Lord recognized this as a period of danger to these disciples. They needed rest, and he made provision for it. They needed time to think through what had happened. From reading Matthew's and Luke's accounts of this return, we know that these disciples were very excited by their ministry. They were tremendously encouraged by the results they had seen, and they came back like boys let out of school, eager to report to Jesus everything that had happened. They were so "turned on" and excited about it that he had to caution them, "Don't rejoice over the fact that the demons are subject to you, but rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven." He could see that they were in danger of being caught up with pride and exaltation at the ministry they had had.

This is why Jesus took these disciples off to a lonely place, to minister to them and to teach them." Ray Stedman in his sermon entitled Who Is This?

ILLUS. I have a preacher friend named Phil Tharp. He preaches a sermon entitled "Then Cometh The Devil" about this very thing - after great victory comes great danger.

QUESTION - Had anything just happened in the life of Christ which might lead Him to want to get away, Himself? (ANSWER - death of John)

QUESTION (LIST RESPONSES ON WHITE BOARD SO THEY CAN BE REVIEWED DURING REMAINDER OF LESSON) - They were to "come aside" "by themselves" "to a deserted place" and "rest a while." There are four clear instructions here. What is significant about each, and do they apply to your life?

I. The Christian life involves the constant coming in from the presence of men into the presence of God.

A. The disciples had accomplished much for Jesus recently.

Cf. Vs. 6:7, 13, 30

1. They had been busy in OBEDIENCE. (vs. 7)

2. They had been busy in SOUL WINNING. (vs. 13-14)

3. They had been busy in TEACHING. (vs. 30)

4. All these are wearying work.

B. Jesus encouraged a time of rest now.

QUESTION - What did Jesus mean by "rest?" Was He suggesting a time of what we would today call "leisure?" What is the difference between the "rest" prescribed here and the "leisure" that many Christians substitute for it today?

ANSWER - This is a period of spiritual refreshment, not entertainment.

QUOTE - "If you don't come apart and rest you will come apart." (Vance Havner)

1. Jesus did it.

(Mark 1:35 KJV) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

(Mark 6:46 KJV) And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

(Mark 14:32 KJV) And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

2. We need to do it.

(Mark 14:38 KJV) Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

ILLUS. Elijah (READ 1 Kings 19:4-8)

ILLUS. The need for "rest" in the Christian walk is illustrated by the Old Testament Sabbath instructions.

(Exo 31:16-17 KJV) Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

C. Without the power of God, we will fail.

ILLUS. - Samson when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, vs. when the Spirit of the Lord was departed from him.

READ Judges 14:5-6, 15:13b-14, 16:20-21

ILLUS. - Children of Israel at Kadesh-Barnea:

(Num 14:40-42 KJV) And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.

D. The power of God comes from our time alone with God.

(Luke 24:49 KJV) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

(John 15:5 KJV) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

1. Time in the Word.

(Josh 1:8 KJV) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

2. Time on our knees.

ILLUS. Jacob (when terrified of meeting Esau):

(Gen 32:24, 28 KJV) And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

QUOTE - "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees."

II. The Christian life involves the constant going out from the presence of God into the presence of men.

QUESTION - What is the purpose of our "coming in from the presence of men into the presence of God?" (i.e. why do we do it?)

A. Devotion for the sake of devotion is selfishness.

ILLUS. (personal) I remember my father suffering a serious asthma attack when I was quite young. It was a traumatic experience because I was wakened from my sleep in the middle of the night to the news that dad couldn't breathe, and was going to the hospital. Frightening stuff to a little guy like me. After he returned home from the hospital, greatly improved, I asked what had been wrong. He said, "I could breathe in just fine, but I could not breathe out." Unfortunately, too many believers are like that today.

B. The power of God in our lives is for the sake of others.

QUOTE - "God makes us strong for a while so that we can help each other." (Sean Connery playing King Arthur in the movie "First Knight")

(Phil 2:3-4 KJV) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

(It is a means to an end, not just an end in itself.)

C. "Come into the presence of God" and then "Go into all the world"… that's the formula!

(Mat 28:18-20 KJV) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(Mark 16:15 KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

(John 20:21 KJV) Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.


QUESTION - Rhythm is a nice concept, but is it realistic? Will we always be able to maintain a set time with God and a set time with men?


III. The rhythm of the Christian life is often interrupted.

A. The disciples' rest was interrupted. (vs. 33)

QUESTION - How did they respond? How would you have responded?

1. It happens all the time.

2. They responded the wrong way, but the human way.

B. Jesus' rest was interrupted, too.

QUESTION - How did He respond?

1. He was just as tired.

2. He responded the right way, The Christlike way.

QUOTE - "Jesus, so unlike us, is moved by people’s needs more than his own hunger and fatigue. He is moved by their ignorance and their need of teaching. He is moved by their sicknesses and their need of healing. He is moved by their hunger and their need of feeding. He is moved by their eagerness to follow him and their need of a Messiah." (Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life Of Christ, Vol. 1)

QUESTION - How should we cope with the interruptions in our Christian life? How do we handle what we perceive as interruptions of our time alone with God?

C. Trust God, He knows how much rest we need.

(We by nature want more rest than we need.)

ILLUS. Elijah (wanted to die, but God said, "Rest, and then you've got more work to do, Elijah.")




(Mark 6:31 KJV) And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1997 William E. Johnson.